Great interview questions for allergy staff

August 15, 2016

Hiring the right employees can mean the difference between a patient-friendly, well-run allergy practice and a dysfunctional one. How do you find team members with the right mix of skills to provide excellent patient care, efficiently complete work tasks and identify new solutions for your practice? According to Laura Meadows, practice manager of Allergy Partners in Lynchburg, Virginia, “in order to have a successful practice it is important to hire the right people. Asking the right questions will give the insight you need to determine the type of employee they will be.”

To help you hire the best staff, our practice management experts compiled 10 great interview questions.

1. What do you know about our practice from the web, social media or online rating sites that makes you want to work here?

Find out whether the candidate did some basic research about your practice – if not, they’re probably not worth hiring. You will also get a sense of the candidate’s familiarity with the web and social media. Finally, this question can start a great conversation about the practice.

2. Tell me about a time when you had an angry patient or customer. How did you handle it?

Does the candidate have a patient-centric point of view? Is he able to diffuse or turnaround a potentially negative experience? Service recovery skills, which include listening and empathy, are key to medical staff success and patient satisfaction.

3. What do you think is the most important thing you should do when a patient approaches the desk to check in for an appointment?

The candidate should be focused on warmly welcoming the patient, using eye contact, introducing themselves and asking how they can help the patient. Front desk staff are the first contact with the patient, and are critical to ensuring a positive patient experience. You can train employees on registration, insurance and other protocols, but it’s virtually impossible to train for attitude and empathy. Make sure your hires have the right attitude.

4. Tell me how you learned to use the EHR, practice management system or other software at your previous position?

Find out how your potential employee learns new skills, and what their skill level is with computer software. Ask specific questions about experience registering patients, making appointments, taking messages and documenting patient visits in the EHR.

5. Tell me about a time when you identified a problem and found a way to solve it. How did it work out?

Employees with initiative get things done, and can help you solve problems in new and creative ways. This question also helps you understand how the candidate solves problems.

6. Tell me how you worked as part of a team in your previous position. Give me some examples.

Successful allergy practices require close teamwork among employees. You want examples of good communication, working together, helping one another and an understanding that an allergy practice is itself a team.

7. Describe a situation where you demonstrated flexibility.

Work schedules and responsibilities can shift suddenly in allergy practices, and employees can be asked to make up for another’s absence. Make sure your candidate is flexible and able to shift gears when these situations arise.

8. Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with someone at work and how you resolved it.

This question will give you some insight into the ethics and maturity level of your candidate and ability to work through disagreements with coworkers.

9. Can you give me an example of a time you worked with an anxious child or a child with disabilities? What strategies did you use to set him/her at ease?

It takes a special kind of nurse or medical assistant to calm an anxious child, and to help the child feel safe – especially when administering skin testing or giving allergy injections. Make sure your hire has experience with and is comfortable working with children and patients with disabilities.

10. Describe the culture of your previous employer. What did and did not work for you? What type of culture are you looking for now?

This question will usually bring out what is important to the candidate. Are they just interested in good pay and benefits, or are they looking for advancement opportunities, attentiveness to personnel issues, opportunity to learn new skills, etc.?