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How to Prepare for Job Interviews in the Medical Field

by Ruth Mayhew

Changes to the U.S. population demographics, health care reform and a multigenerational workforce that's shifting from baby boomers to Generation X and millennials all are contributing factors to the increasing number of jobs in the health care industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects health care occupations will grow by more than 30 percent through 2020. Because the health care industry is growing doesn't mean employers are desperate to choose just anyone who's interested in the field. Position yourself as a viable candidate through preparing for your interview in this field.

Core Competencies

Prepare for your interview by understanding what are your core competencies. Core competencies are fundamental talents that you must have to perform your job tasks. For example, if you're interviewing for a job as a hospital admissions representative, you must have communication skills, maybe even foreign language skills. Core competences also include leadership capabilities that enable you to prioritize patient admissions and critical thinking skills that can help you process the information that patients provide.

Clinical Expertise

If your field is in direct patient care, prepare for your interview by assessing your clinical skills strengths. Note areas where you excel and areas where you are either interested in learning more or you need improvement to become proficient. Recent nursing school graduates will benefit from their preceptors' evaluation of their skill sets and clinical expertise. The interviewer might ask questions about your clinical rotations and where you think you fit best in a hospital setting -- don't just say you'd be happy with any job. Examine your interests and where your skills would be most valuable to the organization.

Certifications and Professional Licenses

Ensure your certifications are current and that you've completed your continuing education so that your job knowledge is up-to-date. If you're currently working toward professional licensing, estimate how far you are from completing your goal and when you expect to be fully qualified in your field. For example, if you're currently a cardiology interventional technologist studying for your advanced certification as a registered cardiovascular invasive specialist, tell potential employers how long you've been studying for the exam, your exam date and when you intend to be certified.

Background Check

Do your own background check if you have even the slightest concern that something might appear on your record that could disqualify you from working in the health care field. Red flags for health care professionals often are different from other fields. For instance, if you're applying to be a nursing home administrator, your record must not show that you were even suspected of elder abuse because there are "watch lists" and registries that may contain the names of health care workers who were never convicted of negligence or abuse, but who were alleged of wrongdoing.

Professional Traits

Equally important are the professional traits expected of health care workers. Compassion is commonly used to describe people who work with ailing patients and provide comfort to family members. In addition, you should have genuine concern for the well-being and health of society, not simply technical skills to make it through an eight-hour shift. Rehearse responses to interview questions that highlight these characteristics, as well as your ability to collaborate with others as a contributing team member. Patients don't get better because of just one person on staff; it takes more than a nurse, an aide or even a physician to accurately assess the patient's diagnosis and prognosis. When you prepare for your interview, draft a list of teamwork examples to share with the interviewer.

Organization

Research the organization, whether it's a physician's office, long-term care facility or hospital. Learn what services the organization provides and access news about the organization's future. For example, if you know the county hospital is planning a new pediatrics wing and you're interested in children's health care, weave that into your elevator speech about what you have to offer. Find out how many beds the hospital has, the number of employees, whether it's a union environment and its ranking among competitors.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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