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11 Tips to Interview a Physician Assistant Perfectly, Virtually

Tips to Ensure a Successful Virtual Hiring Process

You’re hiring for a new physician assistant. The next stage of the process is the interview, which will be held by video link. How do you plan the interview and then conduct it to find your perfect candidate?

Here are our top tips for hiring managers who are now interviewing their candidates virtually.

1.    Prepare Your Interview Questions

What skills and experience do you expect your new physician assistant to demonstrate?

You’ll need to test that the candidate possesses the professional competencies required of them on their role, and that they can apply their medical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and patient care effectively.

You should also seek to discover how they learn and improve in the practice in which they work. Are they a proactive learner, for example?

The AAPA guide for regulators, hospitals, employers, and third-party payers provides many useful pointers to the types and scope of questions and performance measures that you could explore to assess a PA’s competencies.

2.    Prepare a Scoring System

It’s vital that you assess all candidates fairly. A good way to ensure this is to compose a scoring system. This could cover not only answers to questions, but also how they present themselves, the language they use, their confidence on screen, punctuality, if they maintain eye contact, and so on.

Here is a checklist of competencies and attributes you may use for your scoring system when asking questions:

  • Medical competency – understanding of patient presentation, analytical mind, medical and diagnostic knowledge
  • Professional competency – systems, accountability, professionalism, critical thinking
  • Soft skills – communication skills, managing stress, compassion and empathy, teamwork and autonomy, adaptability

3.    Prepare Your Interview Room

Make the candidate feel like they are in an interview room. Take care to ensure your technology is working (your camera, microphone, and audio), that your room is free from clutter, and that you are lit from the front.

4.    Prepare the Candidate

Give the candidate plenty of notice about the interview. Send them an email, including a link to connect and details of how the interview will be conducted, who will be interviewing the candidate, and any information you will expect them to supply before or during the interview.

5.    Prepare Yourself

Immediately prior to the interview, make sure that you have all you need to hand. This includes your prepared questions, score sheet, and any other information you may need. Make sure that you have plenty of time to conduct the interview in case it runs over the allotted time. Put a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on your office door.

6.    Break the Ice

When the candidate enters the ‘interview room’, take a minute or two to build rapport and break the ice. Introduce yourself, explain about the role and your organization, and ask the candidate a couple of ice-breaker questions. Your mission at this stage is to relax the interviewee so that you speak with the ‘real’ person.

7.    Be Methodical and Score Fairly

Ask every question on your list of prepared questions. Never assume that the candidate will know an answer just because their resume says they should. Mark the candidate as you go, according to your grading system.

Here, turn back to your PA assessment checklist. You might score on a points system, 0 to 5 perhaps, or a more specific grading system such as ‘needs to improve’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘exceptional’. It is important to make notes as you work through the checklist for each competency. This will help you later when you are reviewing each candidate.

8.    Be Mindful of the Lack of Body Language

During an in-person interview, a candidate’s body language will often help you pace your questions. On video, much of this advantage is removed. Therefore, be extra mindful of the candidate. Allow them time to answer, and resist the temptation to cut across what the candidate is saying.

9.    Have the Culture Conversation

Skills and experience alone do not make for a great hire. You will also expect your new physician assistant to fit in well with the rest of your team. Thus, you should make sure that you discuss how your team works, and the characters within it, and assess the candidate’s personality and cultural fit.

During the interview, focus on your mission and values. Ask questions that ensure the candidate aligns with these. Listen carefully to the answers, too. Is the candidate answering the question you have asked, or a question they have prepared for? If you are not satisfied with an answer, ask the question again, in a different way, or ask further questions to gain a deeper insight.

10. Close Confidently

At the end of the interview, close by asking if the candidate has any further questions and explain the next steps in the hiring process. Make sure that you have the best contact details for the candidate, and thank them for their time.

11. Review Your Notes and Provide Timely Feedback

Review your interview notes immediately after the interview when your memory is still fresh. This will ensure that you correctly score the candidate. Don’t wait more than 24 hours to provide feedback – the candidate will be judging you on your prompt response, and tardiness could give the wrong impression of your organization.

Start the Search for Your Next Physician Assistant with Great Candidates

When interviewing virtually, it is crucial that you prepare yourself and your candidate. There are, of course, challenges to overcome, but ensuring that you interview all candidates fairly will help you select the best for you and your team.

These 11 tips should help you conduct the perfect interview at each virtual interview. Great candidates uncovered by us, and assessed perfectly by you. A perfect partnership in the hiring process.

Contact Palm Careers today to find your next physician assistant today.

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