November 15, 2019

How prepared are you for a nonclinical job interview?

Nervous interviewee

Last week I received this voicemail from one of my physician clients,

“Heather, I just had to give you an update. The recruiter called me for an impromptu interview and I swear to God, half of her questions were the ones you had asked me in the mock interview. I felt really well prepared and was offered an in-person interview. Thank you so much for the help!”

Long story short, she ended up rocking the rest of her interviews and was offered a position within the week. All this was accomplished by my client who had been afraid to interview because her last interviews were years ago for a clinical position.

Her success was not luck.  She prepared well and avoided these common interview mistakes I’m going to share with you. I want you to rock your interviews and land that great job!

Avoid these 9 common nonclinical interview mistakes

1. Leaving interview prep to the last minute

At least 50% of your interview prep should be done before ever applying to a job. This is to avoid scrambling when a recruiter calls. You want to practice answering the most common interview questions ahead of time. Then, when you are scheduled for formal interviews, you have time to research your interviewers and fine-tune your answers. Here is a list of common interview questions.

2. Assuming the first phone call is an informal chat

Often the first call is to make sure you meet the basic qualifications and understand the job. However, the person could ask you anything, such as, Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What do you know about our company? Why do you want to leave your job? Treat every call as if it is the BIGGIE and be ready for any type of question.

3. Failing to research the company and the interviewers 

You want to scour the company website. Read the mission statement. Find out what they value. Gain a sense of the culture. Ask for your interview itinerary so you can research the individuals on LinkedIn and the company website. Look for press releases and anything interesting about your interviewers and the company.

4. Not preparing short vignettes to illustrate your answers

Short vignettes (< 1 minute) that show how you handled different situations are perfect for answering behavioral questions. You will be creating memorable pictures in your interviewer’s mind and making an emotional connection. Instead of going, “Blah, blah, blah,” tell a relevant short story and be memorable.

5. Not doing mock interviews

It’s one thing to practice answering a question in your head. It’s another thing to say it out loud to someone else. Give a friend a list of questions and do some mock interviews. Record the interviews on your phone. Listen for filler words such as “um,” “uh,” or “so.” The recordings will give you valuable feedback and the practice will boost your confidence.

6. Doing a cursory review of the job description

One of my clients had an interviewer go over the job description line by line to test his understanding. It was an incredibly detailed job description with lots of bullet points and confusing language, but fortunately we had gone over every line in advance. Make sure you understand the job duties and any unfamiliar terms and lingo. Be able to talk about any gaps you might have in the qualifications and how you can address them.

7. Not trying to speak with a current or former employee

Through networking in Facebook groups, LinkedIn, and other avenues, you may be able to find a current or former employee who is willing to speak with you. Sometimes a current employee can directly forward your resume to the right person. Getting an insider perspective is not always possible, but it’s worth the effort if you can find a good source.

8. Forgetting to have questions prepared to ASK the interviewer

The interview is a two-way street. Yes, you are being evaluated, but the interview is also an opportunity for you to ask questions. Prepare questions in advance that will help you determine if this is the right job for you.

9. Failing to follow up promptly

Within 24 hours after an interview, even the first informal one, make sure to send a thank-you email to each person you spoke with. This is a great opportunity to briefly highlight something specific about the person or the conversation that was memorable, inspiring, or attracted you to the position.

Interview prep can be a game changer. Anyone can learn to interview well. Give yourself the competitive advantage and be the one with an offer in hand.

In two weeks, the third blog in this three-part series, Negotiating your employment contract, will be out. Here it is!

If you missed the first one, Do I need a CV or a resume for a nonclinical job? you can read it here.

Please feel free to share your own interview tips in the comments below.

Here’s to your interview success!



  1. Excellent interview prep! I believe that following these pointer’s will put you ahead of 95% of your “competition.”

  2. Thanks so much John! I am sure you have done a good number of interviews yourself, as well as being the interviewer for other physicians seeking leadership roles.

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