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Surgeon Interview Questions

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  1. What is an interesting subject you’ve read about recently in a medical journal? See answer
  2. Can you tell me about a time you had an unpleasant encounter with a patient and describe how you handled the situation? See answer
  3. Have you ever made a suggestion that was implemented in your surgery field? See answer
  4. How would you handle a situation where you and your colleagues disagreed on the best method for addressing a patient’s condition?
  5. Can you tell me about your favorite type of surgery to perform? What about it interests you?
  6. Surgeons complete a variety of operations each day. It can be easy to normalize surgical events as it’s a part of their routine. However, patients may not have ever had surgery before, and the prospect can be unsettling. This question allows an interviewer to empathize with patients and help them feel at ease.
  7. Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to make a split-second decision during surgery? How did you react and what was the outcome?
  8. What types of surgeries have you performed throughout your career as a surgeon? What surgical areas do you feel you need more experience in?
  9. Can you describe the preoperative procedures you perform to prepare for surgery?
  10. How would you rate your teamwork abilities as a surgeon? What examples can you provide from your previous work experiences?
  11. How do you communicate with a patient’s loved ones before and after surgery to keep them at ease?
  12. What types of medical equipment and instruments have you used to complete surgical procedures and monitor a patient’s vital signs?
  13. Have you ever started performing surgery only to realize you misdiagnosed a patient’s condition? How did you respond?
  14. What is your process for evaluating potential risks to a patient’s health and well-being by performing a surgery?
  15. Can you tell me about a time a patient complained of additional pain or symptoms following a surgery? What did you do?
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6 Surgeon Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

How would you handle a situation where you and a colleague disagreed on the best method for addressing a patient’s condition?

A:

Use this question to see how well the surgeon interacts with their peers. Their answer to this interview question tells you if they have a tendency to be bossy and condescending or if they can work well with others. This question also lets you learn a little about the surgeon’s ability to solve problems and communicate with others.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to handle disagreements maturely
  • A desire to protect patients’ best interests

Example:

“I’d speak to them privately to learn the reasoning behind their proposal. If I believed their plan was dangerous, I’d seek another surgeon’s opinion. The patient’s welfare is always my primary concern.”

Q:

What is an interesting subject you’ve read about recently in a medical journal?

A:

Asking this question helps you learn how passionate the surgeon is about continuing to advance their education. You can discover if they always want to hear about new surgical techniques or if they prefer to stick to old and potentially outdated methods. Getting them to mention a certain article instead of just asking whether or not they read medical journals is particularly useful because you learn what topics they like.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Willingness to constantly update surgical knowledge
  • Examples of how the article might influence their outlook
  • Excitement and interest in surgery

Example:

“I saw a study about patients accepting surgical intervention more if given success rates instead of failure rates. This might improve my ability to communicate.”

Q:

Can you tell me about your favorite type of surgery to perform?

A:

You can learn a lot about a surgeon’s expertise and knowledge by asking them this question. Learning what types of surgery they like to perform helps you discover if they would be satisfied and motivated to work at your facility. Their answer can let you know how much they value important things like patient well-being or medical advancements.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Thorough understanding of surgical techniques
  • Enthusiasm for helping others
  • Interest in the types of surgeries your facility frequently performs

Example:

“I enjoy carotid endarterectomies because they’re a challenging procedure that really tests my anatomical knowledge, but they can greatly benefit a patient when done correctly.”

Q:

Can you tell me about a time you had an unpleasant encounter with a patient and describe how you handled the situation?

A:

Make sure the candidate has decent customer service skills by asking them this question. The way they describe the encounter can help you discover whether they are combative, rude or have any other problematic behaviors during patients interactions. It can also help you figure out whether the candidate is capable of staying calm and rational even in tense situations.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Desire to treat difficult patients with respect
  • Ability to calm agitated or aggressive patients
  • Understanding and empathy for patients

Example:

“I had an aggressive patient yelling about my proposed treatment plan. I realized they were just scared and took the time to explain the treatment more thoroughly to help ease their fears.”

Q:

Have you ever made a suggestion that was implemented in your surgery field?

A:

Learning about the candidate’s ability to come up with new and useful ideas helps you see if they would be an asset in their department. A particularly important part of this question is asking about a suggestion that they actually managed to get implemented because it tests their ability to communicate with peers and superiors. This question tells you how well the surgeon does at sharing and explaining ideas.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Innovative ideas about improving surgery
  • Ability to clearly communicate suggestions to coworkers
  • Desire to improve efficiency or safety at work

Example:

“I implemented a brief checklist that helped us catch common mistakes before surgery by showing my boss data about typical slip-ups at our hospital.”

Q:

Surgeons complete a variety of operations each day. It can be easy to normalize surgical events as it's a part of their routine. However, patients may not have ever had surgery before, and the prospect can be unsettling. This question allows an interviewer to empathize with patients and help them feel at ease.

A:

A candidate's answer should emphasize:

  • Empathy for patients
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Previous professional experience

Here is an example of a quality candidate answer:

Example:

"I would have a one-on-one meeting with them to gauge what part of the surgery they were most nervous about. For most people, it's the feeling of being powerless and in the complete care of others that really causes the fear, which is understandable. I do my best to reassure them that I, as well as my team, have their best interest in mind. This usually helps ease their nerves considerably."

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