The healthcare industry is demanding. Whether you’re a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional, your interactions with patients and families can be life changing. As a result, employers are keen on hiring technically proficient individuals with values and personality traits that meet the role’s requirements.
Behavioral interview questions are designed to understand how candidates have behaved in specific situations in the past. They are based on the premise that the best indicator of future performance is past performance. While these questions can seem mysterious or intimidating at first, the tips below are sure to give you the insight and confidence you need to ace your next behavioral interview with ease.
1. Understand the STAR Method
The STAR method serves as a reliable compass to navigate the realm of behavioral interview questions. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result, providing a cohesive and straightforward framework to structure your responses.
Imagine being asked, “Describe a time when you had to handle a difficult patient.” As a nurse, you may have numerous instances, and it could be easy to be overwhelmed with selecting the best one to discuss. However, the STAR method helps streamline your answer:
S (Situation): In my previous role at a high-traffic hospital, I regularly dealt with patients who were upset due to extended waiting times.
T (Task): As the senior nurse, I was responsible for maintaining a sense of calm and ensuring patients’ comfort, despite the long wait times.
A (Action): I decided to implement a proactive communication system. We informed patients regularly about their wait times vs. leaving them in the dark and having them ask for updates and provided options for relaxing activities, such as reading material or guided meditation via hospital resources.
R (Result): This strategic approach paid off. Over six months, despite consistent waiting times, patient satisfaction scores saw an initial improvement of 15%.
This example underscores the power of the STAR method in presenting your experiences clearly, concisely, and impactfully, making it easy for your to come prepared but also for your interviewer to follow along.
2. Align Your Answers with the Job Requirements
To deliver compelling answers, aligning your responses with the job requirements is key. Start by researching the role to identify the core skills desired. These could span a range of competencies, including resilience, decision-making, teamwork, communication, or leadership.
For instance, if you’re a physician interviewing for a leadership role that calls for solid teamwork, your responses should mirror these attributes. You might use the STAR method to share an experience where you guided your team through a complex case, fostering seamless communication and synergy to ensure positive patient outcomes:
“In my role as a lead physician at XYZ clinic, we were confronted with a particularly challenging case that required multi-disciplinary intervention. Understanding the importance of teamwork, I facilitated daily meetings to ensure all team members were aligned and well-informed. This enabled us to work cohesively, eventually leading to a successful patient recovery.”
3. Showcase Patient-Centric Values
At the heart of the healthcare industry lies a patient-centric philosophy. Your answers should underscore your dedication to patient care. This involves displaying a profound respect for their dignity, empathy for their conditions, and commitment to their overall well-being.
Consider a scenario where a physician recruiter asks, “Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision.” Here, selecting a narrative reflecting your commitment to patient care is critical. It could be a challenging clinical situation where you had to decide between two treatments, ultimately opting for the one best aligned with the patient’s values and long-term health. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget the themes and values aspect of interviewing, but by preparing and ensuring that your interview answers have a theme of caring about patients, you will put yourself in the best light possible.
4. Be Honest
Authenticity carries weight in behavioral interviews. Interviewers are seasoned professionals capable of detecting canned or insincere responses, especially when conducting dozens of weekly interviews. If a situation doesn’t resonate with your past experiences, it’s acceptable to admit it. Alternatively, discuss a related experience or provide hypothetical answers based on your knowledge and skills.
Additionally, it is essential to bring your true self to the interview. You want to be hired for who you are, not what you may pretend to be.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Answering behavioral interview questions confidently is a skill that can be honed with practice. Engaging in mock interviews can be incredibly beneficial. They offer a chance to prepare answers to common questions and receive constructive feedback. This practice can be done with a colleague, a career coach, or even in front of a mirror. The objective is to cultivate comfort and confidence in articulating your experiences, ultimately enabling you to make a strong impression during your interview. Try taking a job description and wording each requirement and responsibility as a question vs. a statement as a starting point for home practice.
Remember, these questions aim to assess your fit for the role and the organization. Every answer should showcase your skills, values, and experience relevant to the position. Understanding the STAR method, aligning your answers with the job requirements, showcasing your patient-centric values, and being honest in your responses make you more likely to make a positive impression.
But remember, mastering behavioral interview questions is more than just preparing answers. It’s about introspection, understanding your strengths, recognizing areas for improvement, and showcasing how your unique experiences make you the ideal fit for the job. With preparation and strategy, you can navigate these questions successfully and move one step closer to landing your desired role in the healthcare sector.
**Editor’s note: In addition to knowing how to answer common questions, here are ten questions you should be asking.**