• Prasanthi Naidoo

How to answer the four most common healthcare job interview questions

Your resume and job application are designed to get you to the job interview. It's how you perform at the interview that will determine whether or not you are offered the position.

Once you reach that step and the potential employer calls you in for an interview, they already assume that you have the skills and credentials to do the job. On paper, you appear to be qualified.

So, while there may be some technical questions about your healthcare experience that are specific to the job, much of the job interview will be about evaluating your fit rather than your abilities. You will be asked question that test if your personality fits with the culture of the job and the team, if you are likely to stick around and work hard in the role, and if you have the necessary soft skills for the position.

(See: The three things employers need to know by the end of a job interview)

There are some questions that are asked in almost every job interview to assess those traits. And despite how predictable these queries might be, many candidates still struggle over them.

Here are four of the most common job interview questions and the right way to answer them.

So, tell me a little about yourself?

The exact wording may vary, but most job interviews will start with your employer asking you to tell them about yourself.

Too many people waste the opportunity by talking about where they grew up, their family, or their hobbies. This friendly, conversational question isn't just an ice-breaker. It is a job interview question. Take the opportunity to highlight how you are the right person for the job. Use your elevator pitch. Explain how your professional development has led you to this role, and why you are excited about it.

Why do you want this job?

Employers want to hire people who are passionate about the role - and who are likely to stay in it for a decent amount of time. So, you are very likely to be asked why you are interested in the job. It can be tempting to answer this question by talking about how you’re looking to grow your career and this opportunity would be a great chance to get your foot in the door of a new organization or the industry.

Both of those reasons are about you. Remember that in an interview you should always focus on what's in it for the employer. They are spending valuable time and money to fill a specific role right now. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re just looking for a stepping stone to make a quick job hop that would leave them back where they started. Talk about how the job at hand is a good fit for you and why you’d be great at it.

Questions about your career goals and where you see yourself in five years are a part of this general query - why you want this job now.

What would you say is your greatest weakness?

Everybody hates this question - and that's why employers keep asking it. They don't expect you to reveal that you can't actually do the job. No nursing candidate is going to say that their greatest weakness is dealing with sick people. The real question is how self-aware you are and how you answer difficult questions in a high-pressure situation. (Because that's what a job interview is.)

So, don't say that you have no weaknesses. If you claim to be perfect the employer will assume that you are dishonest, totally lacking in self-awareness, or actually convinced that you are without flaw - and therefore would be a pain in the butt to work with.

Instead, think of an actual weakness, something that isn't an essential requirement for the job, and explain how you became aware of it and are working on improving upon it. This shows that you are reflective, willing to learn, and striving to get better.

Do you have any questions for me?

Just about every job interview will end with the employer asking if you have any questions for them. Don’t say, “No.” Not asking questions makes you appear disinterested in the role, plus it's a missed opportunity.

You can convey your competence and confidence, and your readiness to take on the role as much with the questions you ask as with the ones you answer.

Smart questions can show how you are up to date on industry trends, and that you’ve already thinking about the impact you can have on the job. Ask about the challenges of the role, changes in the field, and about the culture of the institution. Also, be sure to ask about the next steps are in the hiring process.

Just don’t ask about pay, benefits, or vacation time. Naturally, you want to know these things, but they can all be discussed when you receive a job offer. The job interview is all about what you can do for the employer and how you can be an asset to the team.


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