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What's different about the rural interview?

What's different about the rural interview?

Employers serving rural or medically underserved populations may feel more pressure in learning about interested applicants during the job interview process. 

Why is it so imperative these employers find out as much as they can about what a potential job seeker is looking for—both personally and professionally? Think about it from their perspective: they likely have many responsibilities, and it takes valuable resources—both time and money—to bring on board a new employee. It’s important they find the right fit so they aren’t back to square one in six months or a year from now.

So if you’re one of the, as we like to call “mission-minded” health professionals looking for your first, next, or forever job with an employer in a rural or underserved area, keep in mind there may be a few differences from other interviews. 

Interesting questions from an interesting panel

The person(s) interviewing you may not be a full-time recruiter. If they’re not someone who spends entire days interviewing folks, they may be extra excited about the opportunity to speak with you! With this enthusiasm may come an extra question or two a bit off the beaten path (while still being respectful and appropriate) from your standard interview questions. 

We believe one of the greatest strengths an employer serving rural or underserved populations brings to the table is culture. Meaning, the strength within the employers’ work culture or even the strength of the community. So be prepared for a question, or some information sharing, that speaks to culture in this sense.

In addition to interesting questions, you might expect to see a few “outside” faces in your interview. Many rural and underserved employers embrace community or board members participating in the interview process. These folks likely know the facility and community strengths the best, so don’t be surprised if you see a local Realtor, funeral director, or other prominent community member (who may also be a board member) participating in your interview.

Technology problems

Technology can be a fantastic tool -- especially in medicine. It allows us to do so much! However, in many areas, there are limitations to one key technological aspect: broadband internet access. 

According to Connect Americans Now, “as many as 42 million Americans lack access to broadband internet. In today’s technology-driven world, broadband has become a basic necessity. Like water and electricity, it is one of the essential tools to run an effective farming and ranching operation, open up markets for American products and businesses to compete globally, deliver effective health care services, allow America’s students to reach their full potential and provide veterans the services and opportunities they deserve.”

We’re not saying all rural areas lack broadband access. This is not a “rural-only” problem. In fact, another contributing factor to lack of broadband access is the cost. So even if patients can access high speed internet, there may still be limitations. 

We’re also not saying that working in rural or underserved areas guarantees internet issues. We also recognize the importance of internet access for both professionals and patients. Ask your potential employer what their internet access is like – both for the facility and patients served. Knowing more upfront will not only help you make a decision on the right employer, it will help you avoid a possibly unpleasant surprise once you’re in your job. We would also add this thought for your consideration: if internet is not currently where it should be, does the community have plans in place to get it to where it should be? Can you help move them toward their goal and be part of championing real change?

Honesty with yourself (and the employer) is the best policy

Employers will likely ask questions in hopes of trying to best assess whether you’re the best fit for their position. You should be doing the same! This is true for any job, right? You’ve heard it before: ask questions, do your homework, know as much as you can about your potential employer going into the interview. A good interview should feel more like parties trying to find the right match, rather than a quiz you either pass or fail. 

We would argue this is even more important with safety net employers. We may be biased, but if you’re considering a job with a rural or underserved employer, odds are you may be a bit biased, too! If you're considering lots of options, which you may very well be, just be honest with the employer. They may have even more to share with you that could sway you their way! 

Whether you’re interested in a job with an employer serving a rural or underserved (may even be an urban underserved) population, remember that things may look a bit different. We’d venture to guess that’s part of the draw! You’re able to work in your chosen profession in a setting that brings you fulfillment in other, extremely important ways. We hope this list gives you somewhat of an idea of what some of those differences could be during the interview process. 

After all, the more informed you are, the better choice you’re able to make. That leads to many wonderful possibilities: better job satisfaction for the employee, better retention for the employer, and better health outcomes for the patients served.