Post-residency job interviews: Plan and dress for success

By Jules Murtha
Published April 18, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • In your post-residency job search, ask yourself where you’d like to be and what job would best suit you, benefits you want, environment and schedule you prefer to work around, and any deal-breakers you might have.

  • Men and women can both rely on business attire as a wardrobe standard for physician job interviews.

  • Securing a mentor during post-residency employment transitions is crucial to your developing clinical independence.

Congratulations! You’ve completed your residency. Now you must navigate post-residency employment, possibly your first time to embrace your “luxury of choice” in your medical career.[]

A few key factors may help you transition from residency to employment with ease. Knowing what you’re looking for in a job, sporting a winning wardrobe, and securing support are all instrumental to post-residency success.

Questions to ask yourself

After finishing residency, ask yourself what you’re looking for in a physician job.

According to the Physician Career Guidebook published by PracticeMatch.com, there are a few critical questions to explore before interviewing.[] They are:

  • Where do I want to be? Don’t underestimate the importance of geography. Narrow down the list of cities and states you’d feasibly—and happily—move to for work.

  • What benefits and schedule am I looking for? Determine what your wants and needs are. Are weekends off a necessity? Perhaps you’re looking for a more flexible call schedule, or maybe that comes second to loan repayment. Knowing what you want will help you choose a job.

  • What type of job do I want? Were you born to be a hospitalist, or are you open to tackling administrative tasks? Maybe you’d do well as a locum? Explore your potential in each of these when deciding where to apply.

  • What kind of environment am I seeking? The possibilities range far and wide. You could build an occupational home in academia, or head straight to a hospital. You may join a medical group, or find you resonate more at a specialty clinic. Assess your options.

  • What is my ideal community? Deciding who you want to be around, how you build relationships, and what work culture you’d like to achieve together is another important aspect of your search.

  • Do I have any deal-breakers? Set boundaries. If you know what you’re not willing to do for work, you may have a clearer idea of what you are willing to do.

The answers to these questions should clarify what you’re looking for, and bring you to the next factor to consider: Wardrobe.

Best wardrobe practices

You’ve applied to the most suitable jobs; now it’s time to freshen up your interview look to make a solid first impression with the potential soon-to-be-boss.

An article published by PracticeMatch.com reminds men that sporting a suit is always encouraged in physician job interviews.[] A clean, pressed, well-fitting suit with an elegant, understated tie will speak to your professionalism and impress your potential employers.

On the subject of ties, stay away from vibrant colors or wild patterns. Stick to ties with classic blue or red accents. This will add a gentle flare to your muted suit, which should be black, gray, or navy.

Get a haircut a week or two in advance, as well.

A polished look can provide the confidence boost you need to nail the interview.

Women, on the other hand, can also lean into business attire for physician job interviews, according to an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine Career Center.[]

A tidy, pressed dress shirt and jacket—the standard for men—can offer women a template to work from. The feminine corollary to this classic look is a great option to explore when preparing for interviews.

Secure a support system

You’ve now had several successful interviews (thanks, in part, to your professional presentation and preparation) and now you’re considering offers.

Once you've committed to your first job, be sure to find support in the areas you need it.

An article published by the American Medical Association encourages new doctors to find a mentor at their new workplace.[] This person should be someone you can pose your “stupidest” questions to without judgment.

A mentor can also guide you through any uncertainty you may face in the exam room. Having a more experienced role model to refer to when you’re confused is invaluable while you work to become a clinically independent physician.

What this means for you

To ease into post-residency employment, ask yourself the basics: Where do I want to work? What type of job and schedule do I want? What’s my ideal community? Which benefits am I shooting for? Once you start scheduling interviews, organize your wardrobe, sticking to business attire (suits, pantsuits, and skirts in muted colors). When you get a job, find a mentor to answer the questions that will surface while you develop independence as a new physician.

Related: Beyond clinical medicine: Non-traditional career options for residents

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