Job interviews, especially important ones, can fill us with stress and anxiety. However, we can prepare ourselves to mitigate the intensity of these feelings. The more you can practise and prepare, the easier and less stressful they will become. Soon you will be undertaking interviews to join a general practice. To ease you through the process, assist with your preparations and reduce your anxiety, consider the following medical interview tips from our experienced Registrar Liaison Officer (RLO) in the field. These will help you best prepare for the challenge of upcoming job interviews and make a good first impression with your potential employer. 1. Prepare Yes, this may sound obvious, but there are several steps you can take to make sure that you are well prepared before, and on the day of, the interview. You can start by: a) Ensuring that you fully understand the job: exactly what it involves, the conditions, the responsibilities, the hours, the pay rates and so on. By now you should have the job description. Create a list of questions you would like answered and go through them with the interviewer at the end of the interview. It will showcase your interest, planning and organisation. This is your opportunity to learn more about the practice and identify if it is a good ‘fit’ for you. b) Understanding the philosophy or background of the practice and the people who are interviewing you. c) Preparing for your interview by practising with a friend or colleague. Practise makes perfect. Become comfortable by enlisting the help of a colleague or friend to ask you sample questions. Practise making eye contact. d) Planning your trip and the day. Aim to get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview. If you are anxious or nervous, go for a short brisk walk in the morning – no more than one coffee. Plan how you will get to the interview and check public transport or parking options. Allow an additional 30 minutes for the trip. It is better to be early than late! e) Bringing some paper and a pen with you to take notes (and switching off your phone during the interview). This may include internet research, reading their website or annual report if available and talking to past or present employees. 2. Sell yourself Many people tend to undersell themselves during a job interview. You need to show your strengths and be comfortable talking about your achievements and qualities. a) Think about what you have to offer. What are you good at? What are your particular strengths? Give your potential employer a comprehensive ‘picture’ of you. Help them to see how they can capitalise on your strengths and how you will be able to ‘fit’ into their practice. If you are not comfortable with using language such as “I am great at …” try “I have a lot of experience in X” or “I am very interested in condition Y”. Use specific examples from the areas you have already worked and your experiences. Reference positive feedback from patients and teachers, and any awards you have won. b) Be technically detailed about what you want to say. For example, rather than “I like women’s health”, instead say, “I have taken sexual histories, counselled women about contraceptive choice, conducted female examinations and screening, and treated sexually transmitted infections.” Practise how to say what you want to convey. Practise positive phrases and descriptions so they are authentic to you (as you would say them). c) Think about the areas where you wish to learn more. Potential employers want enthusiastic employees who are willing to learn and experience new things. For example, you might want to see babies and toddlers, practise insertions or conduct skin checks. Ask how you might be able to develop new skills and incorporate your interests into their practice. Stay authentic and true to what you want to achieve. d) Do your homework. Is there a practice that specialises in an area of interest for you? The closer the practice is aligned to your goals and passions, the better chance you will have of being a good fit for them. e) Talk about the things that interest you outside work. Employers want well-rounded employees who have a life and interests outside of their work. Highlight any activities and hobbies which reflect positively on your personality and your views on people, family and health. 3. Get clarity It is perfectly okay to ask for clarification and for time to review contracts or consider any offers. However: a) Be respectful and open to trying new things. As a junior doctor at the start of your career, there is much that is likely to be unfamiliar. It is okay to express some views and preferences, but expect that the practice and your employers have much to teach you. Be open to embracing new and different experiences. Keep in mind that the practice and its doctors have done this many times before. b) If you are offered a contract on the day, ensure you take the time to read it and understand the contract. Give yourself time and space, ideally at least 24 hours, to review the contract and conditions before signing. c) Ask how much time you have to decide on any offer and the constraints (including time limits or other applicants) they have. Before you leave, find out what happens next, including who will call whom, when and how. Ask what the timeline is and what else may be done to progress the decision, including providing evidence of qualifications and speaking to referees. Lastly, thank the interviewers for their time before you leave – a good last impression is also important. 4. Review the resources available to you The GPRA website offers a comprehensive interview guide you can read prior to attending any interviews. Check out the excellent advice offered on pages 18 and 19, including the 80/20 rule of being a good listener here. Good contract advice can also be found on the GPRA website here. The best way to feel confident in any situation is to fully prepare. And don’t forget to breathe! Follow those steps and your next medical interview will be a breeze.