Advice for medical physics job interviews

I’ve frequently received requests for advice from medical physics Masters graduates that have been offered interviews for trainee positions. In an earlier post I mentioned that poor interview preparedness was the most common complaint from heads of department regarding candidates. Given the competitiveness of the job market, candidates need to differentiate themselves from the typical “Masters graduate.” Here are some things to consider for positions in Australia:

  • You can be asked questions on ways in which you satisfy the job description and meet the requirements of the advertised role. Be familiar with any responsibilities outlined in the job advertisement. You should be aware of the tasks that the job would routinely involve (e.g. quality assurance).
  • Research the organisation you are applying to. What equipment or techniques are used? How large is the department and how is it structured? Is the organisation spread out over multiple sites? (If so, indicate whether you are able to move between sites). Does the centre have a research profile, and if so, in what area?
  • You may be asked technical questions appropriate for someone of your level of experience. These might relate to assumed knowledge that would have been included in a Masters Course (e.g. how does an ionisation chamber operate) or to a research project you’ve listed on your application.
  • Communication is important, as medical physicists work as part of a multi-disciplinary team. It is especially important where the work includes consulting (e.g. testing equipment at small radiology centres). Expect questions regarding the way you might handle problems (e.g. equipment behaving irregularly), and in particular, how you would discuss the issue with stakeholders (e.g. clients seeking radiation compliance certification or a doctor wanting to begin treatment).
  • Behavioural questions may be asked to determine how you respond to particular situations (e.g. how have you handled things when they have gone wrong, in the past). The interviewer will be assessing how well you might fit into the departmental culture.
  • Prior to the interview, indicate you are willing to present any outstanding work you have completed (e.g. clinical research project) if not already requested. Many organisations request a presentation from candidates.
  • For a trainee/registrar position, you may be questioned about the ACPSEM training program. These questions might assess your familiarity with the contents of the ACPSEM Clinical Training Guide, determine whether you have a strategy to complete the training program within the funded period (approximately 3 years) or evaluate whether you have collated any items of evidence that might be submitted upon enrolment. If you have any such evidence, be prepared to produce it in the interview.
  • For a trainee/registrar position, you may want to ask how much time is provided for learning and whether registrars are considered supernumary (i.e. training only) or substantive (i.e. including clinical responsibilities).

The AAPM conducted an interviewing bootcamp, for which the slides are available here. This presentation includes worthwhile general advice.