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Interview technique - showing you can manage

So, you're applying for a healthcare management position. What kind of questions can you expect at the interview? And how do you show the interviewer you're the right person for the job?

Leadership qualities are similar in most industries. However, management roles in healthcare come with their own special challenges. And that's often reflected in the kind of questions you can expect at a job interview, whether you're applying to be a ward sister, the head of a busy occupational therapy department or a radiography team leader.

Here are a few typical interview questions, along with some tips for how to get your answer spot on...

How would you describe your management style?

In a super-busy hospital or community care setting, how you interact with your team is going to make all the difference. This is not about your personal performance. It's about showing how your well-developed people skills have enabled you to encourage, empower and support colleagues to achieve their best. Try to give specific examples. 

How good are you at managing change?

This is a hot topic for the NHS right now, with successful integration of health and social care dependent on new models of working.  Therefore, as a candidate for a healthcare management position, you'll need to demonstrate strong change management ability. You'll also need to show an awareness of how to engage positively with partner agencies such as social care providers.  Again, try to focus on specific examples. How have you helped drive transformation successfully in your current role?

How do you go about motivating your staff?

Healthcare is a vocation and staff are generally highly committed and motivated. However, you will be line managing staff working in demanding roles and will need to know how to keep morale high, so it's important to be able to demonstrate that you can inspire as well as lead. Also, remember that different things work for different people, so you can't just apply a blanket approach. High achievers will probably be self-motivated and focused on the bigger picture, while those who are underperforming may need specific goals and targeted support.

What is your biggest weakness as a manager?

As with all probing job interview questions, you need to turn this into a positive. At the same time, all managers, particularly those in a healthcare setting, need to demonstrate a certain amount of humility. Remember, in certain circumstances a member of your staff might have more relevant knowledge or expertise than you do. Therefore, you could answer the question with something like: "I believe everyone should be aware of his or her limitations. The most important thing is to know when to use your experience to guide your team and when to use their experience to guide you."

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