Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders
Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders

MSA Search BlogInsights from over 30 years of Healthcare Executive Search

Sharpen the Saw: How to Make Yourself a More Marketable Candidate

By Brad Veal, Senior Consultant, Gallagher MSA Search


With our ever changing world and increased pace of life, gone are the traditional structured lifestyles of many of our parents and grandparents.  This is especially true in our professional careers.  People no longer go to work out of high school or college and remain with the same employer until their "gold watch" retirement.  The statistics vary, but studies show that Americans will hold an average of ten to twelve jobs over their lifetime.  For millienials, that number is expected to nearly double.  That means, like it or not, we all better be prepared to market ourselves.

That discussion could branch off into a myriad of topics, but for today's purposes, we are going to concentrate on interview preparation.  As this blog is geared toward healthcare executives, we are working under the assumption that the pre-interview, low-hanging fruit has been picked:  hospital and health system websites have been combed, interview panel members have been researched, 990 reports reviewed, and communities and markets studied. We will discuss mock and traditional interview experience.

Practice May Never Make Perfect

Before you go through a formal interview process, you should work through several "practice runs".  This can easily be done with family members or professional colleagues.  Take the opportunity to direct them to make it very uncomfortable for you - ask the tough, probing questions.  Video the encounter so you can see yourself through your potential employer's eyes.  And then repeat as necessary, so that you can develop confidence and comfort.  Practice may never make perfect, but this type of tough preparation is very likely more painful than the formal interview itself. 

Case Study - Interviews AFTER the Job? 

We work with a large health system in the Midwest, and one of their top executives encourages his leadership team to annually interview for positions outside the organization.  He believes this instills an ongoing self-development mentality, where leaders look to improve their skills and enhance their experiences in the present, as opposed to delaying until a potential job search in the future.  The caveat is that he will lose good people this way, but he views it as a two-way street, where the employer must do their part to engage the employee so that leaving is unlikely.  This is certainly an unusual, yet progressive, practice that requires a great deal of trust as well as a non-punitive culture.  While many organizations aren't quite this evolved, this can benefit both the employee and the employer, as individuals look for constant growth and development opportunities that will consequentially enhance their organization. 

I interview candidates every day and fully understand that looking for a new job is generally not viewed as one of life's pleasant experiences.  However, I have also found that the dread of the interview process is almost always much more painful than the actual practice.  People seek to make a connection, whether employee and employer, and can all relate to the person sitting uncomfortably across the table.  The more you prepare and practice, the better chance you have to establish a rapport and make a favorable impression.

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