At the end of a hiring interview for an associate position, the interviewing doctor usually says, “Do you have any questions?” Being prepared with thoughtful questions can help you stand out from other applicants and get the job you want.
First, a couple of general tips about what not to ask:
1. Never ask the “how much does this job pay” question first – maybe not ever. It sends up a ‘red flag’ to the doctor that all you’re concerned with is pay. Sure, you want to know, and the subject needs to be discussed. Just don’t start out with that one.
2. Never ask what you will get. For example, don’t ask, “Do you pay benefits?” or any question relating to items the doctor might give you (like whether your malpractice insurance will be paid, or if they will pay for your continuing education hours. Asking these questions gives the doctor the impression that you aren’t really interested in the job.
3. Never ask a question that demands a “yes” or “no” answer. For example, “Do you expect associates to work mall screenings?” Yes/no responses don’t give you enough information, and they almost beg for follow-ups, like “Well, if you expect associates to do mall screenings, is that included in the work week or is it extra time?” Instead, ask an open-ended question that forces the doctor to talk about expectations in general. For example, “Tell me about the marketing required of associates and how those expectations fit into associate pay and workweek.” Now you can sit back and listen as the doctor lays out the overall expectations for marketing.
4. Never as a “why” question. First, it sounds like you’re whining, (“Why don’t you pay malpractice insurance?”), and second, it won’t get you any meaningful information. (“Just because that’s our policy.”) Instead, ask “how” questions and “what” questions, to get real answers that can help you evaluate the position.
5. Phrase questions as positives, not negatives. Instead of asking, “What does an employee have to do to get incentives?” (this sounds negative), ask, “I’m eager to get to the top level of incentives. What would you suggest I do to make that happen?”
Interview Expert Darlene McDaniel suggests asking one or more of these questions in an interview:
1. How has the troubled economy affected your practice? Notice this is a “how” question. The doctor’s answer can tell you about his or her attitude toward tough times.
2. What kind of challenges is the practice facing now? Notice this is a “what” question. A good follow up to this question might be, “How do you see me helping overcome these challenges?” or, “I would like to help overcome these challenges. What do you think is the best way for me to do that?”
3. What do you think it takes for a doctor to be very successful in this position? Notice the use of the word “very” – it shows confidence and intention.
4. How would you describe the culture of the practice? Great question to use in informing you about the doctor’s perception of the culture. It would also be interesting to ask this of staff members.
You can develop your ability to ask great questions, to gather information and make potential employers sit up and take notice. It just takes practice.