Whether you’re a first-time applicant or looking for a career change, applying for a hospitalist job can seem daunting. It can often prove difficult to differentiate yourself from other applicants. It is important to showcase your attributes and determine if a particular hospital medicine group or hospital system is a good fit for you. We developed a mnemonic checklist (HIRED) based on best practices as well as national survey data on top qualifications for hospitalist candidates to help you stand out as an applicant for hospital medicine.
H—Hone your application skills
An organization’s first impression of an applicant comes from the cover letter, curriculum vitae (CV), and additional application materials. Use a cover letter to promote your best qualities and state your specific interest in the job or region. Use action verbs in your CV to highlight your strengths and top qualifications, including comfort with acuity, procedures, and volume; interest in research, quality improvement, or education; and success of prior projects. Your CV should be clearly formatted with section titles and concise summaries instead of paragraphs.1 Ensure that you correct typos and grammatical errors before submission. Having a mentor or colleague review and provide feedback can be critical to your success. This is the place where you showcase what makes you stand out from other hospitalists—harness the power of your CV to showcase how you can make a positive impact on the organization.
I—Improve your interview skills
The most important thing you can do to prepare for an interview is practice! Much like preparing for a speaking engagement, practicing out loud ensures you do not stumble over words and helps further develop your thought process; you may say your answer out loud and then decide it does not convey the message or have the tone you had hoped for. Mock interviews with a colleague or mentor can be invaluable to provide additional feedback. Devote time to commonly asked questions, such as your background, interests, goals, and reasons for applying to this specific job. Organizations commonly pose behavior-based interview questions to explore how you handled prior situations and gauge your interpersonal communication skills and problem-solving skills. Reflect on prior jobs or projects as well as performance reviews to ensure you have adequate information to form your responses.
Consider scheduling your top choice institution after you have had other interviews, so you are more familiar with the interview process and better understand which questions to expect and ask of the institution. Focus on positive social interactions with staff members during your interview day and always pay attention to your body language.2 Demonstrate thoughtfulness—balance promoting yourself with modesty and self-awareness. If you have a virtual interview, ensure your camera and microphone function properly and that you choose a well-lit, quiet area with your cell phone on silent.
R—Research the organization
To help show your interest in the program and ensure the job fits you, it is vitally important to research the institution and the region where you are applying.2,3 Before you apply, ensure the program and the region can offer what you desire in terms of career and personal satisfaction. After you apply, your research should help prepare you to explain why this particular job and/or region interests you and how you will be able to succeed. As part of your research, ensure you have a list of questions to ask, and be sure to ask questions at every interview. Asking questions can help you understand the program better and, just as importantly, will help you demonstrate your interest in the job.3 Questions that are unique and tailored to the individual program are ideal. If you feel like you’ve run out of questions to ask, feel free to ask the same questions at different interviews. Networking by connecting with others at the institution of interest can also be a helpful means to learn more about the program.
E—Emphasize professional communication
After researching and applying to a program, your next step is professional and responsive communication. Ensure timely responses to emails or any other forms of communication. You do not need to check your email constantly, but your goal should be to respond to any emails within about 24 hours. Not responding to emails promptly when looking for a job may raise concerns about your email responsiveness if you are hired. If asked to schedule an initial phone call or screening interview, provide a range of dates/times when you are available. Once scheduled, ensure you take the responsibility to place the appointments on your calendar with appropriate reminders. After your interviews, thank-you notes likely will not increase your chances of a job offer, but they can still be a polite thought. If you decide to write them, an email instead of a hand-written note is fine and has the advantage of being timelier.
During the interview, it is important to present yourself well without focusing on topics that may present as a red flag to potential employers. Employers may shy away from candidates who focus heavily on salary, benefits, or time off.2 This may signal to an employer that an applicant focuses more on the financial aspects of their job rather than patient care. In addition, it is important not to anchor on personal work limitations (such as never wanting to work nights, or a goal to maximize time off).2 While it is reasonable to ask about financial attributes and the work schedule if not explicitly disclosed, it is important to balance these with questions related to patient care, education, or other aspects of the job that are important to you. As discussed above, do not come to an interview without having performed extensive research on the area, hospital system, and program beforehand. This could lead to an unproductive interview as well as demonstrating a lack of interest in the program. Finally, avoid saying something just because you think the interviewer wants to hear it. Be honest. For example, it is better to disclose that you may be applying to a fellowship in an upcoming cycle rather than to be caught in a lie further along in the application process.
There is great variety within hospital medicine jobs, including the hospital system’s characteristics, schedule, and degree of multidisciplinary support. Significant variation also exists in responsibilities expected beyond clinical care, including administrative tasks, quality improvement, patient safety, and education. The best hospital medicine candidates tailor their application process to the job of interest, showcasing attributes that best fit a particular job. This HIRED framework (Figure 1) provides a backbone to ensure you stand out as a candidate and hopefully find that perfect next career transition.
This content is sponsored by the SHM Physicians in Training (PIT) committee, which submits quarterly content to The Hospitalist on topics relevant to trainees and early career hospitalists.
Dr. Maldonado (@MaldoRia) is an assistant professor and hospitalist in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and practices at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Dr. Hall (@AlanHall_UKHM ) is an associate professor and hospitalist in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Ky., where he also serves as the assistant dean for curriculum integration. Dr. Crecelius is a hospitalist and assistant professor of internal medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.
- Steinberg D, Bryson C. Tips for landing your first job in hospital medicine. The Hospitalist website. https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/126343/tips-landing-your-first-job-hospital-medicine. Accessed July 28, 2023.
- Allen-Dicker J, et al. Top qualifications hospitalist leaders seek in candidates: Results from a national survey. J Hosp Med. 2019;14(12):754–7.
- Smith C. Tips for the first interview. American College of Physicians website. https://www.acponline.org/about-acp/about-internal-medicine/career-paths/residency-career-counseling/resident-career-counseling-guidance-and-tips/tips-for-the-first-interview. Accessed July 28, 2023.
This article was originally published by The Hospitalist