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5 Physician Interview Questions and Answers

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Q:

How would you perform an abdominal exam on an adult patient at your practice?

A:

This question helps you ensure that the physician has a high-level, up-to-date understanding of this routine procedure that's part of every physical exam. You'll be able to discern whether the candidate's training is more recent or whether he or she is a seasoned physician. Since this exam is done with an exposed abdomen, you'll discover how the candidate might attempt to build trust with patients and make them feel comfortable. What to look for in an answer:

  • Up-to-date, high-level knowledge of exam steps
  • Ability to gain patient's trust and explain procedure
  • Capable of showing respect to patients
Example:

"I would drape the patient for privacy. Next, I'd auscultate and percuss each quadrant. I'd then palpate all quadrants, using both light and deep palpation."

Q:

What would you do if a patient wanted antibiotics for a viral infection?

A:

This question tests whether the physician has an updated understanding of when to prescribe antibiotics. Since antibiotics aren't effective for viruses, the physician shouldn't prescribe them. However, since many patients demand them (potentially causing a conflict), this question enables you to assess the physician's comfort level with conflict-resolution tactics. You'll learn whether he or she can effectively diffuse a conflict without outside help and whether the candidate respects patients. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to act in patient's best interest
  • Understanding of how to diffuse conflicts independently
  • Evidence of compassion for patient's concerns
Example:

"I'd explain that antibiotics wouldn't treat this particular ailment, and I'd offer other effective treatments. I'd tell the patient to return if his or her symptoms persisted."

Q:

What would you do at a new patient's first appointment to make them feel at ease?

A:

Physicians' offices rely on patient satisfaction to stay in business. This question lets you know if this physician would have the demeanor and approach needed to build rapport at a first appointment and turn a new patient into an established one. You'll learn whether the candidate is both knowledgeable and friendly and whether their style fits with your values. You'll also know if the candidate fits in with your existing team. What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence of compassion that could quickly build patient's trust
  • Ability to work with diverse patients
  • Understanding of how to clearly explain exams and procedures
Example:

"I'd ask the patient what brought them to the office today, addressing those concerns first. I'd then answer the patient's questions before examining them."

Q:

Would you choose to address weight loss with an overweight patient? If so, how?

A:

This question offers a window into how the physician views their role in patient education and advice. You'll learn whether the candidate takes an encouraging approach to issues such as weight loss or smoking cessation and whether they utilize a "tough love" approach. Since the manner in which lifestyle advice is given has a significant impact on patient satisfaction, you'll know if this candidate would be suitable for your patients. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to respectfully approach lifestyle modifications
  • Willingness to address lifestyle choices
  • Understanding of what motivates patients to make lifestyle changes
Example:

"Yes, I'd address weight loss in a sensitive manner. I'd provide follow-up monitoring and resources and support the patient in making successful lifestyle modifications."

Q:

How would you resolve a difference of opinion with another physician?

A:

Physicians who work in practices of all sizes occasionally disagree over the most appropriate treatment for a patient. This question helps you understand whether these disagreements are likely to occur frequently for this candidate and whether they're likely to be successful in resolving any disagreements in a way that doesn't damage the team. You'll learn about the candidate's personal values, integrity and professionalism. What to look for in an answer:

  • Evidence of ability to handle disagreements professionally and respectfully
  • Ability to prioritize the patient's care
  • Knowledge of how to resolve disagreements privately
Example:

"I'd listen to my colleague and try to understand their point of view. I'd maintain respect and remain nonjudgmental at all times."

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