5 Tips for Nailing the On-Site Interview

An on-site interview is critically important to determining the right fit. It gives your potential employer a chance to get to know you better and imagine what it would be like to work with you. It also gives you a chance to assess whether you could see yourself living and working there. It can feel like a lot of pressure to make a decision after one visit! Keeping these tips in mind will help you step into the site visit with confidence.

1. Plan for your visit.

If you’ve been invited for a site visit, congratulations! While visiting over a weekend may seem most convenient since you’ll have time off, try to schedule at least one weekday so you can see the practice or organization in operation, meet the staff, and the physicians in the group. 

Once you’ve coordinated the dates for your visit, confirm if the practice will arrange for your travel or if you’ll be responsible for coordinating any necessary flights, hotel and a rental car. If you’ve been invited to interview, the practice should cover your expenses for the visit. Clarify this up front so you know if you’ll need to book travel and provide receipts for reimbursement or if the practice will make those arrangements on your behalf. 

The practice may send you an itinerary outlining the plan for your visit. Expect to tour the office as well as local hospital(s) and clinics during your visit. You will likely be introduced to hospital leadership and other providers in the community. 

If time permits, schedule an appointment with a realtor to tour the area. Realtors can be a great resource for getting to know more about the community and schools. The practice may offer to coordinate this on your behalf, or provide you with a local realtor contact to arrange this in advance. 

 

2. Do your research.

When preparing for a site visit, doing research about the organization beforehand is critical. Prior to arriving on site, candidates should familiarize themselves with the practice.

“With search engines and social media you can easily research your prospective employer, and they will expect that you have done so,” says Kristen Kirsch, VP Physician Services, US Renal Care. “This preparation will not only help you answer interview questions more effectively but also enable you to ask thoughtful and informed questions on your own, leaving a positive impression.”

If you’re working with a recruiter, they can be very helpful in gathering intel about the practice in advance. You’ve likely also gathered some information during a phone interview with the practice already. Many practices have a website where you can review biographies of physicians and clinical staff. The practice may also have information about their history, mission, values, culture and specific care provided (for example, whether they offer home dialysis or whether they are involved with value-based care). Understanding what kind of care the practice or organization is known for, hospitals and dialysis units in the area, the competitive landscape, etc. are great ways to show you took initiative in learning about your prospective employer.

 

3. Dress professionally and arrive on time.

Many physician recruiters and other experts say even when you’re not in a formal interview portion of the weekend, dressing professionally is a must.

“It’s important for residents [physicians] to keep in mind that the site visit is a job interview, first and foremost, and that their demeanor and appearance really matter,” Lynne Peterson, director of physician and advanced practice recruitment for Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, tells New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). “I have seen physicians show up wearing clothes that are far too casual, and that comes across as unprofessional.”

Dressing professionally shows you think highly of the position you are seeking and will represent the employer well.

The same goes for being punctual. Arriving on time shows the employer you care about the position and respect their time. If you experience any travel delays, be sure to communicate the issue as soon as possible. At times a late arrival may be out of your control, but do everything you can to think ahead and arrive on time.

 

4. Prepare to answer their questions – and ask your own.

Though it’s impossible to prepare for every question you might be asked, think about the most likely ones. Common questions include “What do you think you would bring to our organization” and “Why are you interested in this opportunity?”

Carefully consider your answers and what would be most meaningful to a potential employer. Rehearsing ahead of time will help ensure you don’t ramble or forget something important.

Don’t be afraid to sell yourself; talk about your strengths and how you feel you will contribute to the practice and the community. Be confident but professional. 

You won’t just be expected to answer questions – you’ll be expected to ask them as well. It’s not only beneficial for you personally; it shows you prepared beforehand. Be sure to research as you come up with questions. This will give you plenty of context and help you avoid asking questions that may seem well-known or obvious to the employer. Keep in mind, this is your opportunity to interview the practice for the right fit.

The NEJM recommends asking about practice scope, procedure expectations, patient volumes and scheduling practices (what a typical day looks like), hospital coverage, organizational culture and the practice’s position in the marketplace and plans for growth. You can even inquire about the organization’s perceived strengths and weaknesses, then talk about how you might contribute positively in relation to those. 

Some questions to avoid include asking about salary and benefits (unless the practice brings it up) and questions about the area, housing or schools. The latter may be better suited for a real estate agent or community tour.

Finally, if you like the practice and would like to move forward, let them know you are interested before you leave! This is a great time to ask if they are interested in you and if and when they plan to make a decision (i.e. when you could expect a contract).

 

5. Don’t forget to follow up.

Be sure to say “thank you” for the opportunity within a day or two of the visit.

“We encourage candidates to let prospective employers know your interest soon after the visit, otherwise you may unintentionally give the wrong impression,” says Kirsch.

Sending an email in a timely manner goes a long way. Reiterate your interest in the position. Consider sending individual notes to all of the key leaders involved. Also, ask if they need anything else from you. That gives them an opportunity to respond. If you did not feel the opportunity would be a good fit for you, let them know. The practice will appreciate your honesty and will be able to move on to other interested candidates. Nephrology is a small world! Chances are you will run into one or more physicians from this practice during your career, so being upfront now will be important in the long run.

There can be a lot riding on a site visit, but if you keep these things in mind, you can leave knowing you put your best foot forward.