One challenge for every healthcare practice is interviewing potential employees. A big part of interviews is understanding which questions you should be asking in the interview and the answers you want to hear. Unfortunately, unless you are part of a large organization or hospital, you likely do not have a dedicated HR department, meaning the challenge of finding not only the right applicants, but the best interview questions as well, is often left to the office manager or even the doctor.
After receiving multiple questions on this topic, I reached out to our HR department here at Solutionreach to find out some of the best tips and tricks for interviewing potential healthcare employees. I got such great feedback that I felt it would be great to do an entire series simply on HR issues. With that in mind, please feel free to leave a comment with any specific HR questions YOU may have. Over the next few months, I will be covering everything from hiring to interviews to benefits and more. Today's post will focus on the healthcare interview questions you should include in every interview.
Before giving you some ideas of questions to ask, here are a few best practices to keep in mind when interviewing potential employees.
Avoid leading questions
When thinking about good questions to ask, it's important to also ask yourself, "What are bad questions to ask?" Remember—hiring managers should stay away from leading questions. For example, if you were curious how much recent and relevant experience an applicant has with your specific practice management software, many people may say something like, “Here we use Dentrix. Do you have Dentrix experience?”
The problem with this question is the interviewee now knows that Dentrix is important to you so they will now think back to any time in their experience that they have used Dentrix. Instead, I would ask the question like this, “Tell me about the practice management software you are most familiar with and when you have last used them.”
This question allows a general frame for the topic of the question, rather than suggesting a response. As the interviewer, you are then more likely to get an honest answer and understand their true experience in that area.
When asking interview questions, it is a good idea to start broad and then narrow it down. One way that helps interviewers ask good questions is by asking open-ended questions. Consider using the acronym TED:
- Tell me
- Explain to me
- Describe for me
For example, you could say:
- “Tell me about your most recent X.”
This question is broad and allows the candidate to describe their experience from their point of view. This question is not leading so you are more likely to receive accurate, unbiased information when a question is asked this way. Any information you do not gather when the applicant answers this question, can be put as a follow-up question. Continue to dive deeper and narrow it down as you go.
- “Tell me about the structure of your previous team.”
- “Describe for me what your primary responsibilities included.”
- “How much time did you spend on working at the front desk vs. other tasks.”
Another perk to starting broad and going narrow is that the conversation is much more fluid and natural. Conversational interviews often give you a better depiction of someone’s personality and how well they would fit in with the team.
Healthcare Interview Questions
Remember...try to frame questions in a way that you get the most accurate picture of your applicant. In addition, go beyond this simple list and narrow down from here. To get you started, here are a few broad questions you can ask to get the conversation going. These questions will vary depending on the exact position you are filling:
- Tell me about yourself. Look for answers that highlight the experience and skills they have learned in their previous experiences. Watch for personality and culture fit as well.
- Which skills make you best for this position? Look for specifics. Have they worked with your programs? If not, do you feel that they are enthusiastic and willing to learn?
- Describe the work experience that you are most proud of. Overcoming difficulty is a great trait of any employee. In the healthcare industry, also look for traits like compassion.
- Explain to me your personal working style. An applicant that seems disorganized or confused by this question is a red flag.
- How would you describe your ideal working environment? Look for an answer that fits in well with your organization.
- Tell me about a time you faced a challenge and how you dealt with it. Healthcare is an industry where challenges will undoubtedly crop up from time to time. Look for an applicant who is flexible and cheerful when facing difficulties.
- Describe the relationships you've had with previous coworkers/management. Interpersonal relationships are crucial in healthcare. Look for answers that are not 100% work related, but show that the applicant developed real relationships with previous coworkers. Any negative examples are another red flag.
- Why are you leaving your current position? Look for positive answers, not negative. An applicant who is wanting to further their career, for example, is a good reason.
- Tell me about why you would like to work here. This is a question designed to see how much the applicant really understands about your organization. If they know very little about you, it shows that they haven't cared enough to do work ahead of time.
- Describe how you work under pressure. Answers that include the idea that pressure helps them grow, become more efficient, or better relate to patients are all good. Another great answer is that they work the SAME ways under pressure or not under pressure.
- What sets you apart from other candidates? This is a chance for applicants to really sell themselves. Look for those who know what makes them special.
- Share the methods you've used that help you maintain communication in the practice? Look not only for programs and tools, but an understanding of written, verbal, and non-verbal communication.
- Explain the best way to handle an angry patient OR Describe a time when you had to handle an angry patient. You want employees that can remain calm, validate a patient's concerns, and follow the right channels as part of the answer to this question.
What are some of the interview questions you have found to be most effective? Do you have any other tips and tricks for interviews? Make sure to share them in the comments!
For other practice management tips (in this case, how to handle online reviews), don't miss this free checklist.