When interviewing a physiatrist for a new job, it’s easy to ask questions off the cuff or that you’ve stored away over the years for interviews.  However, these questions are the kind that are always asked and that most interviewees have prepared answers to. That’s why you might end up with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor who was perfect during the interview but failed at their job.  By asking these unusual questions, not only will you get answers that more truly describe the person but you will also see how they work under pressure as they won’t have prepared answers.

Why this matters

Communication is critical to health care. Doctors must be able to gather and share information successfully to facilitate accurate diagnoses, give therapeutic instructions, and establish caring relationships with patients. This should include an understanding of when and how to break down complex medical terminology and concepts to ensure comprehension.

What to listen for

  • Discussion of regulating patients’ emotions, facilitating comprehension, and managing expectations.
  • Strong candidates will encourage patients to voice their concerns as well as requests for more information.
What steps do you take to prevent medical malpractice?
Why this matters

Malpractice risks surround physicians every day, from alleged diagnostic errors to inadequate follow-up. Without due care and attention, these risks can result in lawsuits and other unwanted consequences. By recognizing risk, physicians can create and implement formal policies and procedures to protect their practices and ensure the highest quality care for their patients.

What to listen for

  • Evidence the candidate takes steps to establish trusting and open relationships with patients.
  • Mentions of consulting with other physicians about treatment or referring to specialists when outside of scope.
Many patients have multiple illnesses that require treatment. How do you avoid prescribing potentially hazardous drug combinations?
Why this matters

Preventing serious drug-drug interactions or drug-disease contraindications is essential to ensuring patient safety. To treat conditions and symptoms in the safest and most effective way possible, doctors must possess a thorough understanding of the various types and doses of medications each patient takes, and how these medications interact with one another.

What to listen for

  • Knowledge of the potential for adverse drug reactions.
  • A clear process for ensuring balanced prescribing, including asking patients about any other medications (prescription or otherwise) that they may be taking.
Describe the last medical emergency you handled.
Why this matters

Doctors may encounter various medical emergencies in general practice. They’re rarely anticipated, and when every second counts, it can be difficult to know the right action to take. Your candidate’s answer will show their ability to quickly analyze patient information, evaluate potential results, and determine the best solution.

What to listen for

  • Candidates should demonstrate an understanding of when to handle emergencies themselves and when to refer patients to a hospital.
  • Strong candidates will speak to the importance of communication with the patient or family members to gain essential information fast.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made over the course of your medical career? What did you learn from it?

Why this matters

Accountability is critical in healthcare, so it’s important to know that your candidate can own up to and learn from their mistakes. The best doctors are always working to enhance their skills and understanding to improve patient care, so they should recognize what they can do differently next time. But they should also take extreme care to avoid unnecessary mistakes whenever possible.

What to listen for

  • Look for signs that the candidate recognizes the potentially life-threatening consequences of medical mistakes and puts appropriate checks and balances in place to avoid them.
  • Particularly serious or careless errors, or vague answers, may be a red flag.
Why this matters

Doctors must remain current with the state of the healthcare industry to provide the best possible patient care. New developments in medicine are constantly being tested and rolled out, so what a doctor learned in medical school will only take them so far. As such, the desire to constantly deliver the most relevant care is one of the most important qualities to look for in a potential hire.

What to listen for

  • Examples of specific websites, journals, conferences, and professional bodies that the candidate follows.
  • A proven ability to adopt a new process or technology or adapt their approach in response to new findings is a plus.
What qualities do you look for in a physician? Can you provide an example of a physician who embodies any of these ideals?
Why this matters

Doctors should dispense the healthcare they would want to receive, so a candidate’s positive experiences with healthcare professionals will shed light on their deepest beliefs about patient care. It’s likely that the scenarios and physicians they describe will have shaped their own approach to medicine, whether it was a doctor who treated them personally or a mentor they particularly admire.

What to listen for

  • Signs that the candidate aligns with your organization’s mission, values, and approach to patient care.
  • An emphasis on trust, honesty, and listening to patients.
How do you practice empathy and compassion in the workplace?

Why this matters

Doctors have a high-pressure job, but it’s crucial that they approach even the toughest situations with empathy, understanding, and compassion. This allows them to keep patients calm, reassure worried family members, and build strong working relationships with the rest of their medical team. You want a doctor who has a demonstrated history of blending technical skill with an empathetic nature.

What to listen for

  • A clear understanding of the role empathy plays in healthcare environments.
  • It’s okay if they describe themselves as ethicists, meaning they believe it’s important to maintain a professional distance from patients, so long as this aligns with your organization’s culture.
The information above is courtesy of LinkedIn.
There are some unique questions which are being asked my CEO’s at major companies which offhand you wouldn’t think of as professional.  However, these are the questions that might better predict a physiatrist’s on-the-job performance.  Some sample unique questions are:

If you could be another person, who would you be?

Who is your hero?

What makes you uncomfortable?

When are you the happiest?

Tell me about one of your professional relationships.

Tell me about your best boss.

ANOTHER way to tell a person’s character is to ask your front desk person how the individual was.  Often the way a person interacts with your office staff is a good predictor of how they will act with patients.

AND FINALLY, although interviewers tend to look for people with similar personalities to their own remember that the new physiatrist will be interacting with many different personalities within your office and among your physical medicine and rehabilitation patients so being like you won’t necessarily be the best and only great candidate.   In fact, you most likely need someone different from you who can deal with people different than you. 


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