Asking the Right Questions: How to Interview for Healthcare Talent in 2020

HireHive Team
HireHive Team

Interviewing is as much an art as it is a science. Throughout the process, you’re determining if the candidate is a match for your open healthcare job based on their skills, background, credentials, and personality. But we’re deep into the 21st century now and the process of interviewing has changed dramatically over the years for companies all over the world. You have to know that you’re asking the right questions and hiring the right candidates the first time. How do you interview for top healthcare talent in 2020? Let’s take a closer look. 

Categories of Questions

Before you enter an interview situation, it’s important to know what you want to ask and why the answers matter. There are any number of common interview questions that people feel compelled to ask, but unless they serve the ultimate purpose of determining if a candidate is qualified for your healthcare position, they’re nothing but time-fillers. 

The most common categories of interview questions are:

  • Questions to determine skill level and experience
  • Questions about previous experience and success
  • Questions about how they handle specific situations
  • Questions about their personality fit

Below, you’ll see the purpose of each of these questions and examples. 

It’s also a good idea to create processes for your interviews. You want to ask each candidate the same questions and take notes so you’re able to compare the right information when making a hiring decision. It’s common to choose a candidate based on a gut feeling, but this can lead to bad hiring experiences in the long run. 

When you’re able to compare apples to apples, rather than apples to oranges, you can make an informed choice and select the best possible candidate for your role. 

Questions About Skills

The specific questions about skills will vary based on the position. For example, a nurse will bring different skills to the table than a pharmacy tech. But each role will have some requirements, including credentials in some cases. 

Questions about skills can include asking about their experience with specific functions of the job, the technology that’s used, and their educational background and certifications. These would be very technical questions designed to determine if they have the basic skills you’ve identified as necessary for the job. 

Questions About Background

Once you’ve identified the skills they have, it’s important to understand them in terms of context and success. Sure, they can do the thing you’re hiring for but how good are they at performing their job? 

Here is a great time to ask questions about their past experience and how they helped previous employers excel. For example, “How were you able to use this skill to help your previous employer improve the patient experience?”

Behavioural Questions

Behavioural questions are all about trying to learn how someone would react in a given situation that may commonly occur in the job. Even if they’ve never done it before, what you’re looking for in terms of an answer is how well they think on their feet and employ problem-solving skills. 

The most common behavioural questions start out with the phrase, “Tell me about a time when.” For example, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult patient. How were you able to defuse the situation and calm them down?” 

You can also give them scenarios that they will likely run into on the job. “How would you handle a situation where you were unable to communicate with a patient?” The specific answer isn’t the important part, you want to hear how they will solve that problem in real-time. 

Questions About Culture Fit

Another key element of the hiring process is to ensure that the new employee is a good fit with your existing team. The best way to do this is to reinforce your organization’s brand through core values and the mission statement. You want to hire someone who shares a similar set of values and will work toward similar goals. 

You also want to find out how they work well with others, including management, and what motivates them to perform at a high level. For example, if you have a management team that’s hands-off but the candidate indicates they prefer to get approval for every decision, they may not be a great fit with the team. Someone who prefers less structure might not work well in a very procedure-oriented environment. 

However, as a caution, make sure you don’t ask inappropriate or illegal questions when determining the personality match of the employee. Specific questions will depend on where you live and the legal requirements, but in general questions about marital status, children, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation are not acceptable in an interview. 

Check out our Interviewing 101 handbook for more tips.

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