Must-Ask Interview Questions for Hiring Healthcare Professionals

Questioning a candidate in a way that unearths genuine interest in and ability to handle the nuances of a role requires a strategic approach.

Artfully articulated and layered questions help to peel back the layers of a candidate’s past and illuminate how the past mirrors target requirements. They also shine a light on whether the candidate really understands the applied-for role. Do they understand the potential challenges in day-to-day expectations, working with that company’s clients, or in the case of this month’s featured recruiter, working with the company’s patients or providers?

Moreover, great interviewers unearth whether a candidate has performed due diligence on the company.

My interview with Nichele Wells, Talent Acquisition Partner at CareHere, LLC, was both refreshing and to the point. While Wells’ specialty is recruiting healthcare professionals, the strategy she shared applies to nearly any industry. As such, her top-four must-ask interview questions follow:

1) What interests you the most about this position?

Why It Works: “I ask this to ensure the candidate knows the role and requirements of the position,” says Wells. “Do they know what skill sets are needed? I also uncover if they have visited our website to learn more about our company and mission,” she concludes.

Unless they are simply brushing up on their interview skills, most careerists should be able to provide more specific reasons for applying to and accepting an interview for a position. Whether it’s the company’s welcoming, high-performance culture, the leadership’s reputation for integrity or the role’s perfect-fit description that matches all the candidate’s aspirations, their interest in the position should be easily explainable.  As such, they should be able to map their career story to the description.

Additionally, as Wells points out, this question vets those candidates who did – or did not – take the time to research a company’s profile and mission. It would only make sense that a candidate with a genuine interest in an opportunity would take a few moments to check out the hiring company’s website before sitting down with a recruiter.

Finally, a candidate who has embraced their ‘why’ behind pursing the role will more likely exude positive energy, and even passion, when answering this important question.

 [Related: How to Grow an Engaged Workforce: From Applications to Exit Interviews]

2) How did your current position or past positions qualify you for this opportunity?

Why It Works: “I am listening for details of their skill sets and how their previous experiences align to the position they are applying to,” explains Wells.  

In order to effectively sell their value, a candidate must tune into their value drivers. To better understand their value drivers, they must do some thought-work around their performance in current and/or past roles. For example, if their current job requires acting as a liaison with doctors and nurses, and that is a core requirement of the opportunity for which they are interviewing, then accentuating that skill is essential to the interview conversation.

 [Related: 9 Effective Ways to Assess Candidates’ Soft Skills]

3) Have you ever had a challenging or upset patient/provider? How did you overcome?

Why It Works: Says Wells, “I am listening for how they approached the situation. What steps did they take to handle the upset patient and come to a resolution? What lessons were learned from this challenging experience?”

The ability to problem solve is a universal skill for nearly every job. In the healthcare profession, especially, respectfully handling delicate situations, while also ensuring patient safety and wellness, is crucial. Moreover, the takeaways from such challenges can be as important to a candidate’s story as how they handled the situation in the moment. Their ability to apply lessons learned to a future role can set them apart from less experienced candidates or candidates who simply never learned from their past.

 [Related: How McKesson and Change Healthcare Streamlined Jobs & Candidate Experience with Glassdoor]

4) Are you comfortable working independently?

Why It Works: “I want to hear if the candidate can work by themselves without supervision and be open to working in a team environment sharing responsibilities,” explains Wells.

In this digital, social networking world, many people isolate themselves from real-life interaction and perhaps are attracted to the idea of working independently, without supervision. However, how an employee manages their energy and time across social networking and how they manage their energy and time to complete specific job tasks requires somewhat different skills and abilities.

In fact, an avid attachment to various social networking applications may be a distraction that deters productivity. Therefore, being able to express how they will work well, without supervision (and without distraction) on their own is imperative.

Conversely, their ability to express an openness and specific ability to collaborate within a team also matters. Even in the most independently dispersed organizations, there are times when cross-organizational collaboration is required. And, in a healthcare setting, the ability to work well with a team may make the difference between life and death for their patients.


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