Tag Archives: interviewing

Three Important Skills To Highlight In Your Healthcare Interview

Post by Emily Manahan

Over the past four years of working in healthcare admin, I’ve interviewed applicants for a variety of different roles including nurses, medical assistants, managers, and patient service representatives.  Although each job requires a different set of skills, here are some traits we look for in every candidate.


Doctors are late.  Patients are late.  People get upset. It happens multiple times every day, which means that people working in healthcare are hyper-aware of time. Start the interview on a positive note; be on time.

Even if no one says mentions it, they will notice if you’re late.


Problem Solving

Medicine is complicated, and people are complex. Miscommunication happens. These three factors often combine to create stressful work situations. To make it more difficult, the patients are already anxious about a variety of topics ranging from their health condition to the traffic on the way to the appointment.

In an interview, expect to answer some questions meant to demonstrate how you would function in this type environment. Healthcare happens in real time. Managers are looking for team members who can function well in demanding situations. Highlight your ability to listen, analyze, and address a problem in real time. Extra points for higher stress situations!


Critical Thinking

Working in healthcare is simultaneously rewarding and unpredictable.  Due to the complexity of the field and of the patient population, there will be a lot of situations that cannot be systematically prepared for.

Expect to answer a few questions that hint toward your ability to integrate information that you’ve previously learned to create a solution for a patient.  Prepare several examples to share that demonstrate your ability to deal with an unanticipated challenge.



While it’s not a skill, credentials are required for nursing and medical assistant jobs.  Any candidate who lacks those required credentials will not be considered for the position.  Patient service and healthcare admin roles have no required credentials and therefore more flexibility. Often managers will prioritize strengths over years of experience. In all roles, clinic specific skills (like use of the medical records systems and work flows) can be taught.

In many clinics, some of the strongest team members came from outside industries.



Working in healthcare offers the opportunity to build and strengthen communication, de-escalation, leadership, and organizational skills. Due to the complexity of the field, the opportunities are endless and boredom is nowhere to be found.  Regardless of medical subspecialty, all managers look for job candidates who demonstrate punctuality, problem solving, and critical thinking.  When preparing for a healthcare interview, take time to brainstorm examples that demonstrate these punctuality, problem solving, and critical thinking.  Managers are waiting to be impressed, so walk in there and dazzle them with your personality and experiences.



The 3 most important interview questions

As a headhunter, I always ask 3 questions that force the Prospect to ascertain their priorities.

  1. How much do you want to make?
    1. New York salary vs. Memphis COL
  2. Where do you want to live?
    1. Safe place for a home with a yard for the kids?
    2. Recreation & cultural pursuits?
  3. What do you want to do?
    1. Short and long term goals?

Once they agree that finding a balance is necessary, the conversation becomes easy. We talk through the alternatives and differentiate between their needs, wants and desires. It’s a wonderful bonding tool where the Prospect feels valued, and becomes a Candidate that’s pre-closed on a move! And it’s also an easy way to engage their spouse, which severely reduces last minute ‘we changed our mind’ conversations about relocation.

As an employer, when hiring for a specific need I evaluate candidates as if it was a 1099 contract position. But when I’m hiring for a role in my company (Operations, Sales, Administrative, IT) I’m primarily interested in the long term fit and these same 3 questions are applicable.

Prospects that don’t cooperate? I love sending them to my competitors!