Featured Articles: General News

Hiring Right at Your Health Center with Behavioral Interviewing

Tuesday, February 12, 2019   (0 Comments)
Share |

Lisa Mouscher



Lisa Mouscher, CEO and Lead Consultant at Sogence Training and Consulting, works with community health centers nationwide, conducting training programs to strengthen the management skills of CHC leaders, managers and supervisors; and helping CHCs to create a culture of customer service.


Have you ever been really excited about a hire you just completed, only to find out all too soon that your new employee doesn’t actually have the skills or organizational fit that you believed they had? This scenario happens all too often, leading to unhappy employees, a range of performance issues, and unending turnover.


The culprit is usually easy to spot: interviews that provide a less than complete picture of the candidate’s skills and fit for your organizational needs. The good news? Great interviewing can lead to great hires, and hiring well is a skill you can learn!


Solid interviews are often built around behavioral-based questions. These types of interviews can provide relevant information about the candidate’s past behavior in specific situations, rather than providing only information about what they think they would do, or what they believe they should do. In most situations, past behavior really is a good predictor of future performance -- especially in fast paced, often challenging environments where decisions are made quickly and actions usually come from the gut. By asking questions about real situations the candidate has navigated in the past, you can often gain a window into their skills or potential, the kind of employee they would be in your workplace, and the type of environment they are truly seeking.


How do you gain this important information? It’s easier than you may think! Behavioral questions usually start with “Tell me about a time when you…” For example, to gain an understanding of a candidate’s customer service approach, you might say “Tell me about a time when you dealt with a customer you felt was difficult.” To learn about a candidate’s ability to handle conflict, you might ask for an example of a time they had a conflict with a co-worker. To learn about a candidate’s ability to take initiative, you can ask them to describe a time when they had to complete a project that they had no idea how to do.


Most importantly, don’t stop there! Once the candidate describes the situation, ask how they responded to it – what did they do then? What actions did they take? Dig deep. Gain the information you need to assess the degree to which they have the skills and fit for your organization.


Be curious. If someone tells you they are skilled at something, don’t take that response at face value. Ask them to describe a specific time they actually dealt with it. HOW did they do it? What challenges did they run into? How did they handle them? What did they do next? What was the result? By asking follow-up questions and digging deeper, you can gain valuable information to help your organization make an educated hiring decision. When a candidate’s answer raises relevant -- and legally advisable -- questions in your mind, ask them. Make sure you are asking only questions that are relevant to the requirements of the job.


You may have heard that some candidates prepare themselves for this type of interview and provide “canned” answers. To ensure that you gain the most honest responses, ask innovative questions, dig deep, and if you feel you need additional information, ask for another situation, by saying “Thank you for that answer. Tell me about another time you dealt with something similar.”


With each question, you are looking for a STAR response from the candidate. “STAR” is an acronym that stands for Situation or Task, Action, and Result. To gain this information, ask one question at a time:

“Tell me about a time when….”

“How did you respond” or “What actions did you take”

“What was the result?”


With those simple questions you can gain a great deal of information. Has the candidate dealt with this specific, job-related and relevant situation in the past? Did they deal with the situation in an effective manner that fits with the needs of your health center? Were they able to achieve a positive result? Did they run into roadblocks? How did they handle them? Each question becomes a conversation and an opportunity to understand how the candidate has reacted to relevant situations in the past.


You may wish to include additional assessment tools in your interview as well. For example, you might include a hands-on exercise in which you give the candidate a group of tasks that they would have to complete in an “imaginary” day, with each task written on a separate slip of paper. Make sure you include more tasks than they would reasonably be able to complete in an average work day. Have the candidate prioritize the situations, tell you how they arrived at their solution and how they would handle the things they can’t get done. This will give you an additional window into the way the candidate thinks and works.


You may also wish to ask a few additional questions that are not behavioral to gain even more information, such as “Tell me what you know about our organization,”and “Think about the jobs you’ve held in the past. What did you most enjoy and hope to experience in your next job? What do you hope you never have to do or experience again?”


Create an interview form, and ask the same questions of each candidate. And the most important keys to remember: ask only questions that are relevant to the requirements of the position, and make sure to run your questions by your Human Resources department before you ask them to make sure you stay legally compliant!


Hiring the right person for both the position and the organization can make an enormous impact in your team’s ability to fulfill your mission and serve your customers. By including appropriate and legally advisable behavioral questions in your interview, you can increase your chance of breathing a sigh of relief when you find that the candidate you hired truly has the skills and organizational fit to be successful for the long-term.


Lisa Mouscher is a popular trainer at PCA hosted events and CHCs across the country, and is the facilitator of the upcoming course “Next Level Skills for CHC Managers and Supervisors” in Seattle, Washington March 19-20, 2019. Click here for more information and to register for this upcoming event.




NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal