Ace Your Interview

Veterans offer tips for a successful interview, whether you're looking for your first job or a mid-career change.


February 2015


Interviews are a critical piece of the hiring process. Here, both you and your potential employer have the chance to assess whether or not you are a good fit for one another.

Obviously, you want to make a good impression. However, most employers consider the interview process to be physicians' biggest weakness in the job search, partly due to the fact that medical schools often provide little in the way of career support. If you are thinking about new employment, check out some of these interviewing tips from radiologists with experience.

Best Behavior

Nearly every career publication advises that you "be professional." But what does that mean?

According to Kimberly E. Applegate, MD, MS, FACR, director of practice quality improvement at Emory University, author of several publications on career development, and interview veteran, it has a lot to do with your preparation. It's important to consider how you're going to present yourself, and that starts

with the emails you exchange, Applegate says. "Make sure your language is formal and polite. Then, following the interview, formally thank people no matter what the outcome. You never know when you might cross paths with these peers later in your career," she says. And be polite. "No jokes or overly casual behavior.You never know how the potential employer might react," Applegate adds.

Early Bird

Arriving early is something that Applegate highly rec- ommends, and something she has done in interviews. "During several of my interviews, I arrived a few minutes early and was able to see the department for myself," she says. When you are shown around the department, they want to impress you, and so the conversations are more scripted, says Applegate. But by watching the patients and staff interact, she was better able to get the flavor of the hospital. "I was able to see whether people were happy and how my potential colleagues would interact," she says.

Questions and Answers

Applegate also suggests that you do your homework and research the institution's strengths and potential for fit beforehand. "Know something about the people that are interviewing you and why you want a position with them," she says. If you cannot answer that question, you will not make much of an impression. Applegate recommends talking to your peers and department heads to learn about the institution you will visit, as there is a chance they will know someone who works closely with the practice. And if not? It's always worth a search on the internet.

Vanessa Van Duyn Wear, MD, chair of the ACR Young Physicians Section and part of the decision-making process at her practice in Chicago, says that early preparation also involves coming up with answers to employer ques- tions ahead of time. "Think about your best attributes and what you can bring to the group. You want to give concrete answers on why you should be hired, and that's difficult on the spot," she adds. You might also be asked about difficult cases you've encountered or navigating conflicts with colleagues. Wear states that her group is interested in how their candidates solve problems and tackle difficult situations. "It's hard for anybody to talk about themselves in a positive way," says Wear. "But as professionals, you have to realize that it's not bragging. You're putting your best foot forward to show what you can do." Most of the hard questions, Wear notes, are not necessarily about the answers, but the way in which you answer them. "I've asked people, 'If you could be a fruit or vegetable, what would it be and why?' I do not care much about the answer, but rather, I want to see if the candidate can think on his or her feet."

"Radiology isn't going to be about just sitting in a dark room anymore. ... It's going to be about adding value, so you have to be open to doing more things."

-Vanessa Van Duyn Wear, MD

Out of the Darkroom

Another important piece to remember is to be flexible with what your potential duties will be. When interviewing candidates, Wear looks for people who are willing to perform tasks outside of the reading room. "Radiology isn't going to be about just sitting in a dark room anymore," she says. "It will involve meeting with clinicians and patients and doing committee work. It's going to be about adding value, so you have to be open to doing more things." In other words, it's about embracing Imaging 3.0™. Wear says the best way to show your versatility is to come armed with examples of work you've done outside of your general duties. Prepared multiple tumor boards in the past? Served on your hospital informatics committee? Mention that.

And the most important tip? "Be true to yourself," say both Wear and Applegate. You are looking for the next place in your career, and it's important that you find thebest fit for you. "We as radiologists spend a lot of time at work," says Wear. "We need to find personalities and places that work best for us."

The Right Fit

Sometimes it's just as important to ask your interviewer questions — not only do you find out  if the practice will suit you best, but you also show your prospective employer that you're interested. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

• What is the current clinical volume of the facility? Are there clinical growth areas?

• Do they anticipate any changes in the current job description? For example, will you be responsible for producing research, updating protocols

in a subspecialty area, or developing teaching resources down the line?

• What are the department's strengths?

• Are there research opportunities?

• What are schools like in the area? Ask these and other quality-of-life questions, such as what your potential commute might be like.1,2


1.Applegate KE. The radiology job interview. American Association of Women Radiologists. Published 1999. Accessed Nov. 11, 2014.
2.Reddy S, Neutze J, Randazzo W, Lewis P. "AMSER guide to applying for radiology residency." Alliance of Medical Student Educators in Radiology. Updated 2010. Accessed Nov. 11, 2014.


By Meghan Edwards, copywriter for the ACR Bulletin


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