Whether you apply for a position of a Dermatologist in a healthcare organization, in hospital, or in an office-based group practice, you can expect to deal with a few personal and behavioral questions.

They typically won’t doubt your specialization and skills in the field–you didn’t spend twelve years studying for nothing, after all. The key is to show them that their practice and place matches with your expectations, that you like their model of work, and basically that you’ll fit the existing team of healthcare practitioners.

Of course, it’s also important to show that you are motivated to work hard and like your job. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face.


Why did you apply for a job with our practice (hospital, organization, institution)? Why not some other place?

Here you should basically explain how it matches your expectations. Maybe the schedule suits you, or their target group of clients, or you like the location of the place (close to your apartment). Perhaps they have excellent equipment at place, or you know one of the senior dermatologists working at the place, a man or woman of excellent reputation, and you’d like to work in the same place to learn from them.

You can also praise their institution for good reputation. If you found good reviews from patients on Google (or some other website), you can talk about it, saying that they seem to be knowing what they are doing, and have excellent staff at place (medical receptionists, P.As, volunteers, etc).

In any case, they should get in impression that they are your first choice, and you have a reason you want to work for them, and not for some other place in the city.


What field of dermatology you’d like to specialize in?

In an ideal case, your desired specialization should match with the options they can offer you at the hospital, clinic, or practice of your choice.

Whether you’d liker to focus on surgical, pediatric, cosmetic dermatology, or even on something else, you should have some plan, and explain how the position you try to get with them corresponds with your career goals.

Another alternative is saying that you aren’t sure yet. You want to work in the field for a few years, ideally in a bigger place where you will have a variety of patients and colleagues, and after several years you will decide what’s next for you in your professional career and specialization.

Try to talk with enthusiasm about your future plans. They should get an impression that you are looking forward to your professional career, and aren’t burned out already after school.

What are your expectations on your new colleagues in the medical practice, and on other staff members?

I’d say you have two options for a good answer. First one is saying that you have no expectations. They are the one who could expect something from you, because you will be the new addition to their team.

That’s why you have high expectations on one person only–on yourself. You will try your best to make a good connection with your new colleagues, and meet the expectations they have on you–whatever it may be.

Another option is saying that you expect an honest and critical feedback on your work, since you are just starting in the field and want to learn from more experienced colleagues. And of course, you hope that everyone will try their best for the patients, because that’s what you want to do, and it’s a type of working environment you seek.


What motivates you in this job?

Dermatologists earn more than $250,000 annually in average, so it’s not difficult to imagine a lot of nice things you can buy with the money. But you should refer to other things in an interview.

Try to find some meaningful purpose in this work. For example, you can say it is alarming to see the growth of skin diseases and problems in young population.

It motivates you to try to do something about it, but not only with ointments and drugs, but also with educating your patients on healthy diet and other healthy habits. It motivates you to try to improve their condition, because you know what impact it can have on their self confidence, and subsequently on their success in work, relationships, etc.

You can also come up with some nice formulation, such as that your goal is to protect and care for patients at every age and every life stage so they can safely pursue their life’s passions.

When you apply for a job in some research setting (academic position, pharmaceutic research, etc) you can point out to your motivation to come up with some discoveries that will improve the life of people with skin condition. Perhaps some new drugs or methods of treatment, or better understanding of the cause of skin diseases, which are still blur in many cases…

One way or another, you do not do this for money only. You see some purpose in your work, and you enjoy doing it because of it. Great salary is just a nice bonus, and something you deserve after the long years of studies…


Tell us about a most difficult experience you have had with the patient up to this point in your professional career.

This job isn’t always easy, and you can experience a variety of difficult situation at work–whether physically or emotionally. For example:

  • Diagnosing an advanced skin cancer in a young patient, something you may find hard to bear with emotionally.
  • Facing an accusation of a maltreatment, or even a lawsuit, from a patient or their family. This is an extremely tricky situation to handle, and it can damage your reputation severely and permanently, if you do not handle it correctly.
  • Working with a difficult patient, someone who doesn’t follow your instructions, or is even aggressive in your practice, for whatever reason or prejudice.
  • Having too many patients on the waiting list, working long hours and on Saturdays, which can be physically draining and can leave you feeling empty.

Try to pick a difficult situation that had a happy ending. Perhaps you diagnosed a severe skin disease to a young teenager, and found it hard to bear with the diagnosis–and the same was true for them and their family. But you did your best in your treatment and recommendations, and they eventually overcame the disease.

Or you had an experience with an aggressive patient, who abused you verbally and threatened to do some bad things to you. It wasn’t easy to handle that, but eventually you realized that such things happen in work, got over it, and continued to try your best with other patients. The negative experience did not have a long term impact on you.

Ensure the interviewers that you count with experiencing difficulties in work, but are ready to face the challenges….


Conclusion, next step

Interview for a job of a dermatologist belongs to easier interviews. Skin diseases are on a rise across all demographic groups, and clinics, hospitals, and private care centers struggle to recruit new dermatologists.

As long as you do not remain silent when they ask you the questions, and show some honest interest and motivation, they will give you a chance and hire you. I wish you good luck!

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Matthew Chulaw
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