How to Blow Your Chances After a Physician Interview

By Filed in residency interview with 5 comments

I’ve rambled at length about the importance of the physician interview, but there’s another component that’s often overlooked: post-interview follow up.

I suppose there isn’t a better feeling than marching into an interview, putting your best toe forward, and waltzing off with a sense of pride and certainty. Your physician interview went splendid, and you know it in your mind: I’ve got this. It’s in the bag.

But what, dear reader, if it isn’t in the bag? Even if you think you aced the interview, it’s easy to leave a bad taste in your interviewers’ mouths if you don’t follow up properly.

Let us get to that in a moment — and don’t worry, you mustn’t buy fancy stationery or a gold-tipped quill pen.

Before you follow up, there’s an important letter that you need to write to yourself:

Taking Notes About Your Physician Interview Experience

Taking notes about your impressions during your physician interview might seem like a silly idea, but if your memory is anything like mine, it will serve you well. Even if you have the memory of an elephant, take heed of my advice: Write these things down.

In a post-interview haze, you’re likely to forget the details. Write down your overall impressions, any additional questions you may have and any important facts you’d like to remember. This is especially key if you’re interviewing with multiple organizations in a short period of time.

Next — and this is the important part — write down any personal information about the people you met. Start with their names, then record anything you can: Mrs. Williams mentioned she grew up in Montana; Dr. Reynolds said he liked to sail; the CFO plays golf. These are trivial facts, yes, but they’re things you can remember to better connect with people later down the road. And when you remember these details, they won’t seem trivial to the person you’re talking to. Trust me.

Everyone likes to be flattered. Personally, I am not good at flattering others, but I hear it can help in situations such as these.

Following Up With a Thank-You Note

Everyone knows (at least most civilized people do) that it’s important to follow up with a thank-you note after an interview. It’s no different with a physician interview.

Let’s dive into a controversial subject: emailed vs. handwritten notes. When I was a lad, it was appropriate to send a handwritten letter, and a fancy one at that. It must have been packaged in five different envelopes, each of which was wrapped in tissue paper and sealed with wax.

Today, things are different.

While some people will say that you absolutely must send a handwritten thank-you after an interview, an email is actually acceptable (and sometimes preferred) in today’s day and age. Mail takes forever; what if another candidate sends a thank-you email, and then your interviewers don’t receive your snail-mailed thank-you until five days later? Who made the better impression?

That’s debatable, but my verdict is this: email is perfectly fine, as long as it’s thoughtful, well-written and error-free. Don’t jot off an email like you would a text message. Take some time with it, and for goodness sakes, proofread the thing!

Then again, handwritten notes are lovely, and they’re never out of the question. Use your best judgment when deciding which kind to send.

The Final Ticket to Acing Your Physician Interview

So you’ve written the thank-you note. Good for you.

Did you include the most important piece of information?

Say you’re interested in learning more about the organization and the position, and that you look forward to communicating with them further and taking the next steps.

This might seem like an implicit statement to you, but the fact is, unless you say you’re interested in moving forward, the hiring organization could assume you’re not interested in the position.

It’s important to be assertive, especially if you know you’re up against other candidates. Whatever you do, don’t miss this step. It could cause you to fall.

When it comes to physician interview follow up, do you have an opinion on handwritten vs. emailed thank-you notes? 


Though the views expressed above are solely the writer's, Alexian Brothers supports “The Dose with Dr. Goodhook” and is partnering with Adventures in Medicine to create an open, inspiring and insightful community for residents and physicians. Click here to learn more about ways that Alexian Brothers is making practice purposeful.

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Dr. Goodhook was once a stubborn, talented young resident. After 50 years of practice, the old curmudgeon still has fire and irreverence in his veins. His wit and insight are legendary, as are his field notes, collected along the path of his life.

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5 Responses to How to Blow Your Chances After a Physician Interview

  1. Paul says:

    While in the past, I have tended to downplay thank you notes, they have become so important that their absence can be noted. In an recruitment session a few years ago, an interviewee who did not send a thank you note actually ranked lower for that very reason.

  2. Dr. Goodhook says:

    Hi Paul,

    It always boggles me when people skip the details. When you’re facing something as important as a physician interview, you need to be on point, sharp as a tack. A thank-you note is something that can have major impact, yet doesn’t take that much effort. Thanks for your comment… I knew I wasn’t the only one who’d dealt with this thorny issue.

    Dr. Goodhook
    Dr. Goodhook recently posted…6 Steps to Finding the Ideal Amount of Income for Any PhysicianMy Profile

  3. Calligraphy says:


    Your post is so informative and also very useful for sending thank you letter.

    Thanks For Sharing

  4. In response to your question about handwritten vs typed, I have to go with typed. It gives the opportunity to correct spelling errors and we all know a Doctor’s handwriting is usually illegible!

  5. Brian Calsyn

    As an agency physician recruiter, I prep physician candidates with knowledge of what an employer wants the candidate to do. Not the mechanical, but the true long term goals the facility wants accomplished. If you are not working with a recruiter (mistake) you have to assume based on position requirements and interview dialogue.

    With that intel, answer interview questions with 10% historical info on you, and 90% what you can do for the employer. This 90% should address what you know, or project, the employer wants from the relationship (patient count, efficiency, reduction in infections, etc.).

    When writing a thank you, do both email and note card. Email thank them for the time and ask for position (great point by Dr. Goodhook). In note card, articulate one of those benefits from notes that points out value you bring to addressing their needs.

    Few do this, few win.

    Brian Calsyn
    Physician Recruiter