Excellent doctors and nurses won’t make a hospital or clinic great alone. Clerical staff also plays a crucial role, greeting patients, handing out forms, transcribing doctor’s orders, updating databases, and taking care of other tasks. That’s exactly what you will take care of as a Health Unit Coordinator.

Taking care of administrative and secretarial work, you allow the doctors and nurses to focus on the core of their job–diagnosing and treating the patients. And that’s exactly why ward clerks (another name for the position) are indispensable in any healthcare facility.

Let’s have a look at some questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting job, which pays in average more than $45,000 annually (in the United States).

 

Why do you want to work as a health unit coordinator?

You should point out several things in your answer. First one is the meaningful purpose you see in this work. Surely, you won’t be a doctor, you won’t perform surgeries or miracles. Maybe you weren’t lucky enough, or ambitious enough, to graduate from med school or from a nursing school.

However, you feel this inner calling to help, and to work in healthcare. With your education and qualification, job of a ward clerk seems like an ideal choice for you.

You should mention also some skills and abilities that make from you a good candidate for the position. Say that you can typewrite quickly, have excellent listening and organizational skills, can work with people who are stressed (which will often be the case in a hospital ward), and perhaps also have some knowledge of medical software or terminology.

To sum it up, you believe that the job is a good match for your ambitions, goals, skills, and character abilities.

 

Why did you decide to apply for a job with our hospital (clinic, doctor’s office)?

Typically you will compete with other people for the job. All of you have graduated from a six months long training program (or are about to graduate), and most of you have no previous working experience. You can hardly stand out with your education, but you can stand out with your interview answers, and the knowledge of their place.

Learn as much as you can about their values and goals. What exactly they do at the place, and how it differs to competing medical practices. Read their reviews online to see what the patients praise (or criticize). It can be the attitude of the staff, customer service, modern equipment, it can be anything they like or dislike.

Everyone likes words of praise. If you find something you can compliment them for in an interview, do not hesitate to do so. Of course you want to work for the best, and since you really like what you read about them, you decided to apply for the HUC job with them, instead of one of their competitors.

Or perhaps they are the only place advertising the vacancy at the moment, and you did not have a choice.

Imagine that a stressed mother demands to see her son, but doctors do not allow a visit to the patient. What will you say to her?

Ensure the interviewers that you understand the emotions patients and their family members may experience. Staying in a hospital is not a pleasant experience for anyone. You know you may deal with angry, stressed, or even aggressive patients or visitors.

In this particular case, you won’t just bluntly dismiss the request of the mother. You will explain why she cannot see her son, and, if possible, go and find out the information for her, about the condition of her son. Or you will ask her to go to the waiting room and ensure that you will call her as soon as she can visit her son.

Show the hiring managers that you have compassion, and will address these situations sensitively. At the same time, however, if visits are not allowed you won’t let someone in, just because they are stressed or cry, or something similar.

 

Imagine that two new patients walk in. At the same time you hear a doctor calling you, and a nurse shouts something in your direction from another office. How will you react?

Ensure them that you won’t panic. Multitasking is a myth, unless one of the tasks we do subconsciously (such as brushing teeth, or filling a form we filled hundred times before). In this situation, you will simply do one task at a time.

First of all, you will ask the two patients to wait a minute in front of your desk (you won’t just leave while they approach). Second, you will go and ask the doctor what they need from you (since they are higher in a rank than a nurse). Then you will either take care of the task the doctor assigned to you, or, if it is not something urgent, you will talk to the nurse.

Once you know what the two want from you (doctor and nurse), you will easily prioritize the three tasks (the third one is handing forms to patients and registering them), based on importance or urgency, and will proceed with them in this order, without panicking or rushing things.

 

What is your experience with this or that medical software, filling this or that form, etc?

You either have an experience or you don’t. But just as it is a case many times in an interview, simple “I have an experience with it” won’t do the trick.

If you have experience, explain how you gained it–most likely in your training program, or you knew it mattered for the job and so you studied the thing in your free time. Do not be afraid to use medical terminology while explaining things, to demonstrate your knowledge of the field.

And if you do not have an experience with the software or form they are asking about, tell them about your experience with something similar. Maybe you haven’t worked with software A, but with software B during your training program, or in your free time.

And since the functionality and user interface is similar in both cases, and you are tech savvy and skilled with computers, you will certainly learn to work with their software in no time.

 

Imagine that one of the patients complains about the service they got from you. How will you react?

You can start with saying that this is unlikely to happen. You want to try your best for each patient, being attentive to both their needs and emotions. With this attitude it should not happen often that someone isn’t satisfied.

If it happens, however, you won’t just let it go. You understand that bad word spreads ten times faster than good word. The last thing you want to see is an unsatisfied patient posting negative reviews across a variety of social platform, damaging both your reputation, and the reputation of the clinic.

Hence you will try to understand why they complain, and remedy the situation. And you will apologize, even if there’s nothing to apologize for, because you simply followed the standard procedures, or there were many people and the guy in question had to wait…

You can also add that you won’t get involved into any pointless arguments. Regardless of what they do or say, you will try your best to stay calm and courteous.

 

Other questions you may face while interviewing for a job of a hospital unit coordinator

  • In your opinion, what role does HUC play in a success of a healthcare facility?
  • Do you think about a career of a nurse? Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
  • You will work with sensitive information about the patients. What steps do you plan to take to ensure they stay confidential, and do not leak?
  • Mistakes can prove costly in this job. What do you do to ensure you make no mistakes in your work with the documents?
  • What are your expectations on the doctors, nurses, and on other staff members working in the hospital ward?
  • Tell us about a last time you had a conflict with someone in work (or during your training program). How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.

 

Conclusion, next step

Interview for a job of a health unit coordinator does not belong to difficult interviews. Many hospitals and clinics are understaffed, and often struggle with hiring new people.

It can often happen that you will be just one of two or three candidates applying for this job–which is way better than one of twenty or hundred, which is the case with many other jobs, especially managerial.

As long as you show some enthusiasm for the position (explaining the meaningful purpose you see in this work), and demonstrate right attitude to different situations that may happen in a hospital ward (following the hints I gave you in this article), they will typically give you a chance to prove your words during a probation period. I hope you will succeed, and wish you good luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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