Successful Interview Tips for Health Care Executives
Vacant high-level positions can be few and far between. Making a great first impression is critical. As a health care executive, you may feel you already know how to conduct yourself at a job interview and we get that! But, take time to read through all the tips below to help get your energy elevated and to remind yourself how important the smallest of details can be to reach your goal – getting that job offer! The tips are specifically geared for the time period after you have applied for the position and are invited for a personal interview (whether remote through Skype or face-to-face). Need tips on Applying for that Executive Position? Read “Reaching for the Stars – Applying for that Executive Position”
Invest time to prepare for this important interview. A few important preparation tips to remember:
- Arrive at the interview knowing as much about the organization as possible, by conducting Internet research about the organization.
- Go to their website, find out how many locations they have, find information about the CEO, board and other executives.
- Search for any web pages related to the position (or department) to give you insight about the vacancy.
- Review website information posted for their patients. Become familiar with their “brand”, services, etc.
- Visit the organization’s social media platforms (see if they have a YouTube Channel). This is a great way to get more information.
- Clean up your social media sites
- Prospective employers may be researching as much about you as you are about their company. Clean up any questionable items on your social media pages.
- Talk to your references
- Prepare a reference list to take to the interview. Be sure not to “blind-side” anyone by listing their name without their knowledge. Talk to your references, let them know the type of positions you are applying for and that prospective employers may be reaching out to them about you!
- Whether you are using a job search engine or reviewing positions on the AIHC Jobs Page, not all employers posting positions will provide a full job description.
- If the job description is provided, print and review it carefully. Bring a hardcopy with you to the interview.
- When the description is not provided, ask if it is possible to review a copy during the interview.
- Schedule the best time for the interviewer (not you). If possible, schedule time in the mid-morning (after rush hour traffic has passed) and when you are still freshly rested and looking your best. Remember, those interviewing you are people just like you. They are susceptible to the same psychological preferences and cognitive biases that affect you and me.
- Dress the Part – Do a dress rehearsal to ensure your clothes are tailored and fit properly. A dress rehearsal gives you time to take care of loose buttons or make a necessary trip to the dry cleaners.
- Err on the side of overdressing. Interviewing for a health care executive position calls for Business Professional. Pay attention to details.
- Look polished, which means detailed grooming from head to toe. Because interviews generally mean a handshake and exchanging paperwork across a desk or table, ensure your nails are groomed appropriately. Long distracting nails, hangnails, cracked cuticles or dirt under the nails are a sign that you simply do not pay attention to detail.
- NO fragrance. Consider keeping a small grooming kit with you for last-minute touch-ups needed. Choose clothing which does not provide a distraction. No low necklines, tight or high skirts. Men should wear subdued ties. Use classic accessories (classic handbag, briefcase) and minimal jewelry.
- A CareerBuilder Study provides the best (and worst) colors to wear for a job interview. Black reflects “leadership” while blue reflects a “team player”.
The impression you make is critical. No cell phones, please! Turn your cell phone off, even while waiting in the lobby for your interview. Give this opportunity your full attention. How you speak, your body language, and how you enter a room can make you seem more likable, competent and hire-able.
Your attitude and personal energy will carry through your handshake. Arrive enthusiastic and excited about this potential new opportunity. This attitude will be reflected in your body language and the interviewer will pick up on your energy (positive or negative) without you saying a word.
Be Confident. Confidence means great eye contact, shoulders back, chin up, and a warm, genuine smile. Health care executives must demonstrate warmth and compassion. After all, provider organizations strive to deliver the best care possible, which comes from the “top down”.
Show the employer that you are serious, want the job and have come prepared. Print out a copy of your resume or Curriculum Vitae to bring to the interview. Also, bring a notebook and a pen to take notes. Being punctual proves to the employer that you are responsible and reliable. Make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes early to the interview. This gives you enough time to find the correct building, department, or find a parking spot. Arriving late could give the employer the wrong first impression.
Smile and be friendly, but do not act too comfortable or familiar. Be professional; bring enthusiasm and confidence, but not cockiness. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you when you first meet and offer another thank you at the end.
Be prepared to be asked: “Why are you the best candidate for this job?” Think through your answer in advance. Other questions you should anticipate and be prepared to answer might be:
Strategic vision - Executives participate in the decision-making process of the company and are responsible for driving growth. Expect questions that reveal whether you, as a candidate, understand the company’s needs and are able to help achieve their long-term objectives. This means researching the company’s Mission and Vision prior to the interview. Expect to be asked about your ideas which could improve the company in some way.
Leadership ability - Employees in executive roles need to manage and motivate their team members effectively. Employers are looking for people who make tough decisions confidently, have strong problem-solving skills and lead by example. Be prepared to offer up your own success stories and examples of your leadership capabilities. How do you handle difficult employee situations? What is your management style in a crisis? What would you do if a department manager consistently opposed your ideas? What is your experience in dealing with “difficult” physicians? How to you inspire your staff when there is a huge challenge being faced?
Goal-oriented approach - Executives are held accountable for their team’s results. How often do you hold department meetings? Expect questions asked with the purpose of identifying your professional track record of success. That could include, for example, consistently meeting quality standards, improving outcomes, reducing expenses while refining the ultimate patient experience and always address risk mitigation experience.
Don’t Raise a Red Flag
Red flags to the prospective employer might be:
Signs of stress or discomfort – Employers may pose candidates with hypothetical scenarios to test how you face challenges. If you seem too stressed or struggle to respond, the interviewer will believe you are likely to shut down when real difficulties occur on the job.
Lack of preparation - Candidates genuinely interested in an executive position will have done research on the company.
Poor presentation skills - Executives represent the company. If you lack confidence and come across as reserved or unprofessional, it will appear that a C-level role is above you right now and not the next step in your career path.
Arrogance - Employees who hold an executive position are decision-makers, but good executives don’t tout a “know-it-all” attitude. Instead, they admit their mistakes, are fair and open-minded and have high levels of emotional intelligence.
Dishonest answers - If the interviewer spots any signs of trying to hide or spin the truth, you are not likely due any further consideration. Executives set the example for the rest of employees and need to be professional, trustworthy and ethical.
- Make sure to answer all interview questions truthfully.
- Do not embellish your skills and accomplishments. Healthcare employers will conduct background checks, call previous employers, and check your references. Honesty is always the best policy.
After the interview, it is appropriate to ask the employer about what happens next. Ask them if you need to provide any additional information and when you should expect to hear back.
Stand-out candidates go above and beyond. You want to be remembered after you leave. Send a follow up email to each person you spoke with, or even send personalized thank you cards. Don’t be afraid to let the organization know you are the best person for this job!