Ch. 4: Interview Questions
In Ch. 3: Interview Tips we went over common mistakes made by interviewers, and the steps they can take to avoid them. Here we'll cover the interview questions that everyone is expecting to hear in the healthcare industry.
We all want to know exactly what our interviewer will ask us, but unfortunately for us, that is impossible. Interviews are especially daunting in the medical field, because, to land the job, you must demonstrate that you are tough, smart, and great with people.
The best thing is to prepare for common questions, and turn every past achievement into a home-run answer. It is important to be genuine, and stay away from canned responses and scripted answers.
Be diligent and prepare, but remain candid. You don’t want to sound like you're reading from a teleprompter.
Interview Questions to Prepare for:
1. Why the Healthcare Industry?
Interviewers ask this question to gauge your real motivation for working in healthcare. It’s important to demonstrate your love for the work, but you need to show them why by using your past accomplishments and history.
Saying, “because I’ve been playing Operation since I was 10” is not a good answer.
Instead, discuss why you're passionate about helping people, how you’ve accomplished goals in the industry, and what you can bring to the table. Always use accomplishments from your past.
2. Tell Me About Yourself.
Stay broad, and don’t go into too much detail. Now's not the time to be long winded. Talk about your professional life; they want to get a feel for you as a professional; they don’t care about your personal life.
Keep the conversation professional. Don't talk to your interviewer like they are your friend. When you speak, be clear and concise. Don't talk about hobbies, family, or where you grew up.
Keep it to a one minute summary and speak to where you are in your career, and what you’re good at—with emphasis on your most recent job.
3. What Interests You About the Position?
Talk about the substance of the role, and how it interests you. Tell them how you can bring something to the table, and how the job aligns with your goals.
Don’t talk about salary, benefits, or anything unrelated to the job. If you talk about money, they will think that is the most important thing on your mind.
Be enthusiastic about the work, and show a passion for the field; this will let them know you're in it for the duration.
Demonstrate why you want to work in healthcare, and focus on what you can do for the job, not what the job can do for you.
4. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job? / Why Are You Leaving Your Job?
Don’t discuss conflicts; it shows weakness and volatility. Plus, it will take the conversation in a negative direction and turn the tone; keep the atmosphere light and positive.
Don’t badmouth the employer or any of your colleagues, because the future employer will think you will do the same thing if you were to leave this job.
Only say you’re looking for new challenges, if you can illustrate how this new job will provide them. If the job can't challenge you, then don't mention it, or don't go after that job.
You can discuss relocation, financial trouble at previous employment, and other true relevant reasons--as long as you keep it light. Discuss how this job could better your circumstances.
5. What is Your Biggest Weakness?
Minimize your weakness with a strength—how are you improving that weakness?
“I struggle with talking in front of large groups of people. So to improve my communication and oration skills, I go to improv nights at a local theatre. I reach out to those in my community for help as well, and have started a group for people with the same problem.”
This example turns the attention from your weakness and shows how you have strengths in managing, organization, breaking down obstacles, and reaching out to the community.
6. How Do You Handle Stressful Situations?
This is an important question in the healthcare industry. You have to have thick skin and be able to deal with stress on a daily basis. Prove you can handle stress by:
- Discussing concrete examples from your past where you overcame stressful situations
- Talk about how you cope with stress in day-to-day life, not just at work. And let your employer know if you do yoga, boxing, weight lifting, cooking—whatever the coping mechanism may be. This question is a great time to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
7. Why Would You Do Well in This Position?
This is your time to shine. This question allows you answer with all your best accomplishments, and how you can help meet their needs. Don’t be afraid of really selling yourself here.
You must know specific examples to answer this question with, and every answer needs to be strong. Use past experiences to highlight what you can bring to the table; show them by using the stories you tell, and keep their attention by being interesting.
Point to your skills and experience, and tie them back to why and how they would fit this job. Just show them that you can be the best hire--show them enthusiasm.
8. Tell Me About a Time You…
They want clear, concrete examples of situations you’ve had to take initiative and solve real problems.
Prepare examples that show that you fit the qualities and skills they are looking for. Use past experience and achievements that would directly fit the needs of that job.
They are gauging your problem solving skills and your critical thinking skills, so explain the challenge you faced. Discuss how you overcame the example and what the result was.
Most people are caught off guard by these types of questions, so prepare a solid answer and be confident. The question could vary a little, but if you have a few concrete examples in your tool belt - use them at will.
9. What Do You Know About Our Company?
Researching the company you want to work for is super important. It will give you ideas of what they are looking for, and help you formulate responses that are relevant to the job.
It will also help you know who you are talking to. That can help break the ice, and shows that you are intelligent and did your homework.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t regurgitate facts
- Provide a general sense that you know what they are about
- Talk about what they are known for and what they do well
- What makes them better than their competitors?
10. What’s Important to You in a Position?
With this question, it is important to remain candid and talk about your goals. Talk about what you would like to have in a career, and how this job can fulfill those requirements.
You can talk about your need for growth and purpose, and relate it back to why the job will fit those requirements.
Talk about where you want to be in five years and about goals for the industry; what you see yourself bringing to the table.
11. What is Your Salary Requirement?
Don’t be afraid to talk about money if they bring it up. Do market research and ask for a price that fits your experience and qualifications. Don’t be greedy, and give a range instead of a specific number.
“The research I’ve done shows that starting wage for this position is between $30-$50k a year. For this area, the living expenses, and my qualifications and experience, I would be comfortable somewhere between $35-$45k.”
Giving a range will help in negotiations. They won’t consider you if you go too high, but you’re hurting yourself if you go to low. Do the homework, and meet somewhere in the middle. Ask, don’t demand, and remember, it is a negotiation.
If you research, compile a list of achievements and skills that fit any question, act candid, and stay relevant and concise. You will have better odds of landing the job and seem more confident. Be sure to follow up after your interview, and thank them for their consideration. Don’t be afraid to ask for a timeline to let you know the next step.
Questions to Ask Employers:
While it is important to prepare for the questions you will receive from your interviewer, it is also imperative to ask intelligent, thoughtful questions.
Asking the right questions will demonstrate characteristics and skills that will speak to what you have on your resume and cover letter.
1. Office Culture
Ask about what it’s like in the office. You can learn a lot about the integrity of a company if you ask the right questions. Find out what their values are, and how they treat success and failure.
To determine their values, ask something like, “What is the difference between a good employee and a great employee?” “What are the characteristics of those considered ‘high potentials’.”
It is important to find out how they treat their employees and failures. A good question to ask is, “How does your company handle failure? Have you experienced failure in your role and how did you handle it? How did the company handle it?”
At the same time, you can find out how they deal with success and promotion by asking how their company deals with advancement - going above and beyond the job. See if it is important to promote from within, or if they open up every job to the public.
Ask them what they love about working for the company, and the top things other employees say is the best about working for the organization.
2. Questions to Clarify the Role
It is always good to clear up any questions you may have about the duties of the job or job functions. If you are uncertain about any aspect of the position, then ask.
3. Next Steps & Follow Ups
Before you leave make sure you find out what the follow up procedures are, and get a timeline in which they will get back to you. This will show that you are serious, and that you feel confident in getting the job.
Make sure you email them after, thanking them for their consideration and time.
Review lists of potential questions, and come up with good answers for each. Remember to be genuine in your answers, and don't sound scripted or generic. When you ask questions, be respectful and don't come off as haughty or confrontational. Avoid questions about benefits and salary, unless mentioned, so you don't hurt yourself in negotiations.
They can bring up questions about salary, so definitely prepare good answers and talk in price ranges, no specifics. Do your best to be prepared and sound knowledgeable. It will speak volumes for you if you come to the interview with concrete examples of your accomplishments, and you can explain to them why you are the best fit for the job.