7 tips to help your partner prepare for their next medical job application

 

If you’re a partner of a healthcare professional, you may have found your highly intelligent, very confident partner rocking in the corner, traumatised by a medical job or college application process. You might have heard cries of:

“Please help me practice for my interview”
“Read my CV”
“What do you think of this application letter?”
Although you may have been less than enthusiastic, you have probably taken some time to help your partner prepare for a medical job interview, or specialist college selection process. It can be a stressful time not just for the candidate but for the entire family unit. Often, success or failure in the process will determine the next career step, a salary bump, or a big move. After years and years of training, there can still be a lot riding on a fifteen minute interview.

When you’re helping someone prepare for the process, any help is generally better than none. That said, from a professional recruitment perspective, there are some ways you can help that are better than others.

1. Be Supportive

If you’re both truly on board with the decision to apply for this job or training program, be supportive of your partner’s need for help, their nerves, and bad moods around interview day. The more supportive you are, the more positive they will come across in the interview.

2. Don’t Give Unqualified Advice

When you’re helping your partner prepare – whether the job they’re applying for is for a General Surgeon, Registered Nurse, or even just a locum position – stick with what you know. Don’t go outside of your scope of knowledge or understanding of the subject matter. For example, if you are practicing an interview with your partner, and it is a very clinically oriented or technical interview (and that is not your profession) ask your partner to write down the ‘ideal’ answer (in dot point) to interview questions so you know how close the answer is to the mark. In terms of feedback, stick to more general stuff.

3. Proof Read

Simply proofreading an application can be a tremendous help. First, look for obvious spelling, syntax, and grammatical errors. Then, review the structure of the application. Finally, read it as an entire document and make sure it flows well. Again, if it is of a highly technical nature, encourage your partner to enlist a colleague in the field to review it too.

4. Find Partners Who Have Been There Before

Chances are that someone else has helped their partner prepare for their application and interview for the physician training program, for General Practitioner training, or whatever the job is. Reach out to people you know to ask for advice, or access an already established group like the Australian Doctors Spouse Network, or a professional medical or healthcare recruitment agency like Beat Medical.

5. Be An Interview Coach

When you’re helping your partner prepare for their medical interview, take the role of coach. To do this, you need to:

Understand the rules of the game – know what the job description and selection criteria are
Know what to look for:
Are they answering the question as asked?
Are they being brief and clear in their answers?
Are they coming across as confident or self-deprecating?
Sufficient eye contact?
Body language- open, closed, defensive?
Are they using the right keywords? Or overusing certain phrases or words?
Any noticeable or annoying mannerisms?
Be a critic – let them know (non-judgementally) what you have observed. Help them work on their weaknesses.
Be a fan – give them lots of positive feedback
The more you can practice with them, the better. To really nail an interview, your partner should practice for a lot of hours. However, avoid scripting interview responses, as seasoned interviewers will see pre-prepared answers from a mile away. Encourage them to have key points to cover in their answers, but to make a natural response every time.

6. Make A Home Video

Set up your smartphone facing your partner when you are running through a practice interview. It will give them some instant evidence (yes, doctors like proof) of the feedback you are giving them, and help them see their improvement as you progress. Keep the videos to compare different responses down the track.

7. Be A Shoulder To Cry On

Not everyone wins, and you’ll be the one they turn to if things don’t go as hoped. Use it as an opportunity to regroup, and reassess whether that path is right for them. If it is, help them by getting started all over again. It’s important for your partner to find out where they could have improved in the process, so you can help them to get ready for the next attempt.

 

Shaun Hughston: Managing director at Beat Medical – Medical recruitment agency.

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