Don’t feel prepared for your interview? With the right preparation, you’ll be fine. All you have to do is break the problem down into chunks. What do you need to bring with you? What will you probably need to answer? How can you set yourself up so that you’re in top condition for the interview? When you look at the problem in tiny chunks, it suddenly seems a lot simpler.
There’s also lots you can do even at the very last minute. Below is our guide on how to prepare for a healthcare interview. We’ve created a list of top tips, a host of questions and the answers you’ll need for each one, and a prep checklist before you head out the door. Basically, it’s everything you need to know.
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Last-Minute Healthcare Interview Preparation
It might be tempting to go without any prep at all. Hopefully, you can wing it. It’s an appealing idea for a couple of reasons: first, it’s completely no-effort. But not only that, you can cast your worries completely aside. You’ve waited until the last minute, so there’s no point prepping anyway. Right?
Well, doing just a little bit of prep can help you go a long way. Bear in mind that the other candidates you’re up against will all have done their homework. In comparison, you’ll answer slower, and your answers won’t be as relevant.
Not only that, but you up your chances of making an embarrassing blunder when the interviewer asks a seemingly basic question. Many studies—including this one in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment—are in agreement. Sleep deprivation can make you fail even seemingly basic tests.
Long story short, if you’d like to get the job, you better prepare. This is how to dress for an interview for women and also some style etiquette tips for men. Looking the part will help to cover up some of your shortcomings in terms of preparation.
How Long Should You Prepare for an Interview?
No doubt you’re panicking right now. Leaving everything until the last minute is bound to set your alarm bells ringing. But the first thing you should know is that there’s no set amount of time that you need. Unless you’re reading this guide on the bus on the way to your interview, you have more than enough time to memorize some Q&As and practice your self-confident voice.
Here’s a rough guide to the kind of preparation you should be doing:
- In the week or so before your interview, do some light reading on interview tips. If you don’t have a week, don’t worry, because…
- The night before your interview, do a little ‘cramming’ using our guide below.
- It’s crucial that you get a good amount of sleep before your interview. There’s no point reading and researching all night, only to turn up tired with bags under your eyes.
- The morning of your interview, do a little more light reading over breakfast or on the bus. Try and pep yourself up with your favorite music, or something similar.
Preparing for an interview isn’t the same as memorizing names and dates for an exam. You don’t have to have perfect recall of facts and figures: you need to be able to talk naturally and confidently about yourself, the job in question, and anything else that might come up. Prepping will help you talk more confidently, which is why it’s so important.
Top 5 Interview Preparation Tips
So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at some top interview preparation hints and tips.
1) Research the Organization
Every business is different. If you’ve been in the world of work before, no doubt you’ll know all about it. It’s called work culture: all companies feel different to work for. That’s because different businesses have different hiring policies, have different work policies and have different aims and goals. Working for a non-profit is going to feel different to working in a sales call center, for example.
What we mean to say is this: if you don’t do your background research on the business you’re applying to work for, how do you know you’re a good fit? And how can you make a good first impression during your interview? We’ll give you a hint. You can’t. That’s why you have to do your due diligence.
Consider researching the employer in the following ways:
- Take another look at the job offer that you originally responded to. In it, they’ll describe exactly what they’re looking for. Mirror their language and use it in your interview.
- Search for the best soft skills to have in the role you’re looking for.
- Search for the company’s mission statement online. If they have one, it’ll describe what they want their workplace to be like.
- Check the news for any stories you might find about them. Who knows what you might find?
- You can find reviews of what it’s like to work somewhere online. Glean information from there to use in your interview.
So, what kind of information might you want to find out? There’s plenty. For example, how strict is your new workplace? Do they prefer people who can work without oversight or people who do as they’re told? Do they prefer people who work on their own, or as part of a team? Do they have strict deadlines or not? You can find out all of this, and more, from the sources above.
2) Have a Mock Interview
Something that would give you an edge is to sit through a mock interview. These are proven by scientific studies (like this one in WMJ) to help you prepare.
Grab a friend or family member to act as an interviewer, and have them interview you. Set the scene as realistically as possible: get them to dress up, and you do the same. Sit at a desk if possible, so that you get the feel of being in an office. This is great prep if you feel nervous about interviews because you get used to having to talk about yourself.
Let them ask whatever they want, but also have them do a little research first. That way, they’ll be able to ask you relevant questions.
Make sure that you cover the following points:
- Have them ask probing questions about your work history. Where have you worked, when and for how long? Try and ensure you know the answer to every question. Hesitation doesn’t look great.
- Have them ask questions that are as awkward as possible. It’ll probably happen in the interview anyway, so it’s worth doing now. Why did you leave your old job? Were you sacked? Did you not get along with your boss?
- Have them ask you how you’re a good fit for the job. This is bound to be one of the questions that come up during the interview, so make sure you know how to respond to it. This is where your research into the business comes in handy.
If you don’t have anyone who can put you through a mock interview, you should use flash cards. Write the questions on one side, and turn them over. Shuffle them, and turn them over in a random order. Answer the questions as they come up. This will help you get used to the unpredictable nature of an interview.
It’s also handy because you can use flashcards anytime, anywhere. So even if you’re preparing at the last minute, they can still come in useful.
3) Plenty of Rest
When it comes to interviews, you might think it would be better to stay up late to prepare as much as possible. That couldn’t be further from the truth. During an interview, you have to be ready and alert. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be anything but. If anything, you should try getting an early night before your interview.
If you’re more of a night owl by nature, consider the following sleep hygiene tips:
- Don’t have any ‘screen time’ for an hour before you go to bed. Instead, consider reading or taking a bath. This will help you unwind and fall asleep quicker.
- Make sure your room is comfortable and cool before you sleep. While it shouldn’t be cold, people fall asleep quicker and sleep better if the room they’re in is cool.
- Take the time to decide what to wear the night before your interview. This will help you focus, and stop you from worrying about the next morning.
A study in Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that improper sleep hygiene methods cause poor sleep quality (in medical students, at least). So, with plenty of rest under your belt, you’ll be much more likely to perform well in your interview.
Stress is a mind-killer. It can make you do crazy things, like stay up all night crafting the perfect interview responses. But like we said above, sleep is super important. Besides that, though, stress is something you want to avoid before an interview. That’s because the fight-or-flight response is exactly what you don’t need: rather than fight or flight, you need to communicate and collaborate with your interviewer. As you know, they’ll have plenty of questions to ask you.
Preparing for Interview Questions and Answers
Interviews are like quizzes. Sometimes you know that certain questions are going to pop up. Before your quiz (or exam), you prepare answers to those questions. Interviews are no different: there are a few questions that almost always rear their ugly heads. A key part of your last-minute prep should be making sure that you know the answers to these questions.
Let’s take a look at some, and describe what kind of answer you should give. In no particular order:
Tell us about yourself
No matter what they’re hiring for, every interviewer wants to know more about their candidate. This is a basic way of getting you to show your priorities: what do you think is most important about yourself, and what do you have pride in? Is it your qualifications or your experience?
This is also an excellent opportunity to make yourself stand out from the crowd. If the interviewer looks like a sports-type, maybe mention which football or baseball team you support. If they seem laid back, you could mention what music you like. Briefly mentioning something like this might get you lucky—the interviewer might look back and remember the Dodgers fan, for example. Don’t talk about these things at length, though.
The Right Answer:
First off, keep your answer short. They don’t want your life story. Briefly discuss your background, your education, your work history, any small and interesting tidbits about yourself. Anything that makes you memorable is a big plus.
Why should we hire you?
This is similar to being asked ‘what are your strengths?’ In this case, though, it’s just as much about the business as it is about you. They want to know how your strengths line up with what they want. You can see what they need in their job description. It might be that they want somebody to take control of a project. Or, maybe, they need a strong team player. Check out what they wrote in their advert for all the info you need.
The Right Answer:
“I saw in your job advert that you needed somebody for X. I can bring X, Y, and Z to the table because of my past experience and education. You can see in my resume and references that I have a strong focus on these skills, and I would love to put them to good use here.”
What are your weaknesses?
If anything, this is even more important than talking about your strengths. It’s a measure of your honesty and your introspection. The interviewer wants to know that you can honestly appraise yourself, and be brave—yes, brave—enough to talk about it in an interview. After all, everyone wants to give a good impression, so it is quite brave to talk openly about something you’re not so good at.
Think of your interview about what you’re not good at. It could be multi-tasking, for example. It could be time management. It could be moving on from projects and starting new ones. It could be a motivation. The exact weakness isn’t too significant; what they want to hear is how you’re tackling it.
So, for example, you might have taken a course that will help you with your weakness. Or, you might be taking mindfulness yoga classes to help you keep calm and balanced. They want to know that you’re confident enough to identify and address any weakness you have.
The Right Answer:
“I’ve never been great with time management. But at my last workplace, I took internal training to help me improve how I schedule my day. This helped me deliver better patient care.”
Why are you interested in this job?
Put yourself in your employer’s shoes. They want to know that they’re going to hire somebody who’s dedicated, and cares about their job. Ultimately, even somebody who’s not quite as skilled—but puts real effort and care into their job—is going to win out over somebody who has all the qualifications in the world but couldn’t care less about doing a good job.
To address that concern, your interviewer is probably going to ask why you applied for the job. Think back to when you first applied: what caught your eye? Was it the opportunity to work in an incredible workplace? Was it that you wanted to take a step up in your career? Or was it that you’ve always wanted to work for XYZ Inc. since you were in school?
Either way, give a reasonably honest answer that shows your dedication. We say reasonably honest because you shouldn’t ever mention salary at this point—even if it is genuinely one of the reasons you thought to apply. Talking about the great salary makes you look like more of a mercenary than somebody who’s dedicated.
The Right Answer: “When I saw your job advert online, I immediately knew I had to apply. First of all, I’ve closely followed XYZ Inc. since I was younger, and the idea of working here was what encouraged me to get into healthcare. Not only that, but the career advancement and training on offer here were appealing. All in all, I felt that this was an opportunity that was too good to turn down.”
Do you have any questions?
Last but not least, a classic: do you have any questions? Anybody who’s genuinely interested in a job will have plenty. There are all sorts that you can ask:
- What do you like best about working here? This can give you important insight on whether the job is worth taking.
- What’s the next stage of the interview process? There may be further interviews. There may also be a practical test, to prove your expertise.
- What’s a common career path from this role? This shows that you’re here for the long haul, which is a great impression to give.
- What’s a typical day like in this role? This shows you’re ready to get down to business.
Whatever you choose to ask, the best questions are those that you honestly want the answers to.
The Right Answer: Anything but “How much will I be earning?”
Use the STAR Technique
There will come a point where you talk about what you’ve achieved. When you do, use the STAR technique. This is where you structure your answers like this:
- Situation: What was the situation beforehand, i.e., low patient satisfaction scores or similar
- Task: What did you have to achieve?
- Action: What did you do to rectify the problem?
- Results: What did your changes achieve?
Using the STAR technique helps you in two ways. First, it stops you from rambling, if that’s a problem for you. Second, it structures your answer to give the interviewer exactly what they way. They want to know what you did, how you did it and what you achieved. It’s no good saying “I did this! I did that!” without also talking about what your actions accomplished.
Interview Preparation Checklist
Preparation isn’t just about questions, though. It’s about being physically prepared too.
Before you close the door behind you tomorrow morning, take a look at our lists below. Everyone has blank spots in their memory; something that’ll make you facepalm in frustration when you remember what you’ve forgotten. To avoid embarrassing blank spots, use our checklist.
First of all, make sure you’re bringing everything with you that you need for the interview. Double check the invitation. What did they say you had to bring?
Make sure you always take with you:
- A spare resume, just in case the interviewer needs it
- A pen and paper for exercises/tasks
- A packed lunch, or at least a sandwich. Sometimes interviews are unexpectedly long
- Water, just in case you need it
- Don’t take gum to keep your breath fresh—you might forget to spit it out. Instead, take a toothbrush and toothpaste
- Don’t forget your keys, phone, and wallet in all the excitement
You’re going to need a rucksack or a bag to keep everything in. You’re also probably not going to need everything you brought; the resume is a great example. But sometimes they come in handy, and it’s best to be prepared.
Aside from things you’ve got to bring, there are also a few things you should do before your interview:
- Give yourself more than enough time to arrive early. If the interview is at 10, get the bus that’ll get you there at 9:30. In other words, plan your travel in advance
- Practice how you’ll introduce yourself: use a firm handshake
- Wear clothes you’ll feel confident in
Aside from the five tips we told you about above, there’s very little else you need to remember. All that you need to do now is ace the interview. No pressure. And here’s how to tell if your interview went really well or your interview went poorly.