Thomas Jefferson University

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Before the Interview

Research

Prepare for the interview by researching the organization.  You should know enough about the organization to justify why you are seeking employment with them and to come up with insightful questions.

  • Look at all current openings. What other types of jobs are available at the organization?  This can provide you with helpful information about career paths, etc. 
  • Look at the website from the vantage point of a client or patient. How does the organization present itself to its patients/clients?
  • Mission Statement: Familiarize yourself with buzzwords, main concepts, and value statements.
  • Annual Reports: Date they were established, populations served, notable accomplishments, research endeavors, unique qualities of the organization, recent mergers or acquisitions, etc. 
  • Try to find Jefferson alumni at the organization. Give them at least a week to respond to you, or possibly longer.  Don't ask what the interview questions will be.  Do ask about their own experiences working for the organization, workplace culture, etc. Using LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with Jefferson alumni.
  • See if the Career Development Center has any contacts with the employer.  Consider asking them some of the same things you might as Jefferson alum (i.e. workplace culture, unique aspects of his/her position, etc.) Go to Symplicity to research employer contacts.
  • Think about your strengths and unique experiences and how they might relate to the healthcare facility.  For example, you may be interviewing with a regional spinal cord injury center affiliated with a prominent teaching hospital (i.e. you had a 10-week rotation at Loyola Medical Center in Chicago in their spinal cord injury unit and you treated paraplegics and quadriplegics). 
  • Examine your job-related skills, accomplishments, and goals.  Specifically look for ways in which you stand out from your classmates. Talking with a career counselor can help you discover your skill sets.

Practice

Be responsive and be prepared to give honest answers.  Whenever possible, support your answers with specific examples from your own experience. If the employer asks a difficult question that you have not prepared for, ask for a minute to think about it and give a quality response.  At the interview, you will need to convey how you will contribute to this organization’s healthcare team by demonstrating a willingness to learn, previous skills and knowledge, and an understanding of the organization’s philosophy and goals.

Although this is not a complete list, below are a few general interview questions that our graduates have encountered (keep in mind the ways in which you stand out from other candidates as you reflect on answers to these questions). We recommend practicing these questions on your own, as well as scheduling a mock interview with a career counselor for industry-specific questions (call us at 215-503-5805 to schedule an appointment).

  • Tell me about yourself. 
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • If I talked to your Clinical Instructor about your performance, what would he or she say?
  • How would a faculty member or a friend describe you?
  • Tell me how you found out about our organization.
  • Why did you change careers? What made you leave the field of accounting to become a
  • Cytotechnologist?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses? 
  • Tell me about your leadership experience.
  • What leadership skills do you possess? Describe a specific time when you used your leadership skills.
  • Why should I hire you? In what ways can you contribute to this organization?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment and why?
  • Tell me about a time when you were disappointed in your own performance.
  • Why did you choose Thomas Jefferson University?  Why did you choose your major?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a faculty member or supervisor.  What was the situation and how was it resolved?
  • I am going to give you a scenario about Mr. Brown. He is a 46-year old patient with lung cancer. You walk into his room and you see that he has not eaten any of his dinner.  What is the first step you would take in regards to this situation?

Behavioral-based interviewing is a popular style of interviewing in which an employer asks questions that force a candidate to tell a story or give a concrete example of past performances and experiences. Employers ask these types of questions to reveal how an applicant may act or make decisions in the future. 

Behavioral-based interviews often are often direct, more probing and more specific than traditional interview questions. Some healthcare and other common behavioral-based interview questions are as follows:

  • Tell me about a situation when you provided full support for a team decision, even though you didn’t necessarily agree with it.  (Teamwork)
  • Careful listening and effective communication go together.  Tell us about a specific time when your skill in listening helped you communicate better. (Communication)
  • When we get emotionally involved in a problem situation, it is often difficult to be objective.  Tell us about a time when you were proud of your ability to be objective even though you were emotional about a problem situation. (Decision-Making and Problem-Solving)
  • Please provide an example that shows your skill in interacting with people who have different values or perspectives than you. (Interpersonal Skills)
  • Describe a single time when you delivered service in a way that clearly showed care and concern for another individual. (Patient/Client Focus)
  • Describe a time when you advocated for a patient or client. (Patient/Client Focus)
  • Tell me about a time when you felt disappointed in your own performance.  (Self-evaluation)
  • Pick a situation in your clinical/fieldwork/internship/clerkship when you demonstrated initiative and were satisfied with the result. (Initiative/Creativity)
  • Tell me about a time when you employed the use of evidence-based practice. (Competency)
  • Describe a time when you demonstrated effective leadership skills.  (Leadership)

Want more practice questions? We have a huge list for you: Behavioral Based Interview Questions

SITUATION - Describe the situation.  You must describe a specific event and supply the interviewer with enough detail to understand.  This situation or problem may have arisen in a number of places including a previous job, on a clinical rotation, clerkship or at school.

TASK - Indicate what the task was – a class project, a clinical task or procedure, etc.

ACTION you took - Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you.  If you are discussing a group project or effort, remember to focus on the actions you took and not the actions of the team. 

RESULTS you achieved - What happened?  How did you resolve the problem or accomplish the task?  What did you learn from the experience? How will you improve in the future?

Example:  Describe a time when you advocated for a patient or client.

S: During my hospital fieldwork, I worked on an orthopedic floor that cared for complex patient cases. The patient that I was treating was in a lot of distress and seemed very uncomfortable.
T: I needed to assess this patient, as she was recovering from a severe back injury.
A: I asked the patient if there was anything she needed that no one has asked her about.  Her eyes lit up a bit and she said “yes, actually, I would really like to brush my teeth.” It turns out that no one recognized her need to brush her teeth.
R: The patient told me that the simple question meant a lot to her and she felt more comfortable after we were able to brush her teeth.  I advocated for this patient in a small but very impactful way.

Example: Tell me about a time when you demonstrated teamwork.

S: I volunteered to cover a weekend shift for a co-worker in the research lab at my last position.
T: The tasks that needed completed were more work than I expected – over 50 mouse surgeries need to be performed.
A: I did them all and even stayed late to get them done.
R:  The research project continued on, and I earned the trust and respect of a colleague.

 

One way to practice is through a mock interview or a mock phone interview at the Career Development Center. We can critique your performance by evaluating the content of your answers, your body language, voice intonation, eye contact, appearance, and general demeanor.  Interviewers will assess your personality and attitude, career goals, confidence level, communication skills (both verbal and nonverbal), accomplishments (academic as well as personal), and knowledge (an understanding of the career field). Contact us at 215-503-5805 to schedule an appointment.

Prepare

A major part of the interview involves the questions you ask. You indicate your interest in the position by asking thoughtful, pertinent questions, as well as the level of your preparation.  Make sure that the questions you ask are not questions that could have been answered through your research efforts.  As you are preparing your questions, remember that you should leave the interview with a clear idea of whether or not you want the position.  The interview is a time to evaluate if your skills match the employer’s needs as well as if you can see yourself working for the organization.

Remember to ask open-ended questions which will supply you with more information and allow the interviewer an opportunity to talk.  If you do not ask questions, it will be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm for the position and the organization. We recommend asking at least three to five questions. It is perfectly acceptable to bring a written list of questions to the interview to use as a reference.  However, you should be familiar enough with your questions that a quick peek at your list will jog your memory. Below is a list of possible questions that you may consider asking.  These are just a guide – hopefully, you will formulate your own questions based on what is most important for you to know in order to evaluate whether or not the position is a good fit for you.

  1. “What is your definition of a successful employee?  What do you consider the skills/characteristics a person needs to do this job well ?”
  2.  “What is the timeline to hire for this position? In what way will I be informed of your decision?”
  3. “Describe your multidisciplinary approach to patient care? How do the physical therapists and nurses communicate patient needs to the physicians?”
  4.  “What type of orientation program do you offer for new hires? Does your orientation program have a mentor component?”
  5. “Do you hold staff meetings? Who attends?”
  6.  “How will my performance be evaluated? On what metrics are performance reviews based?”
  7. “Does your unit offer a clinical ladder? How many of your staff members are Clinical Ladder 2, 3 or 4's? Approximately how long does it take to achieve each level and what is involved?”
  8.  “Are there any research projects taking place in your department? At what level are your staff members involved in research?”
  9. “How would you describe the culture of the institution?”
  10.  “What is the average seniority level among your staff members?”
  11. “What is your level of patient acuity?”
  12. “Can you describe your supervisory style?"
  13.  “What continuing education opportunities are available to new employees?”