Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for this position. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness. Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours!
"I believe I could improve on some technical skills including Excel and Word. Currently I am at a beginner to intermediate level; however, I would be more comfortable at an advanced level. I have enrolled myself in an evening/weekend workshop for the next six weeks. We will see how stellar my skills are after that course!"
"I know this will come off as cliche, but it's truthful. My weakness is in not delegating. I know what I want to be done and how I want it done, so it's often easier to do it myself. However, it can inhibit my ability to grow. I cannot take on every step of a project; I need to be able to give the task or a portion of it to another team member or direct report, let go of the control and know it will be taken care of. I've spoken with my current manager about it, and we've developed a system where he can call me out on the behavior since often I'm not aware of it. By bringing awareness to it at the moment, I find my propensity to hold onto control has decreased, so I'm certainly moving in the right direction."
The interviewer wants to know if you can take criticism without getting your feelings hurt. In today's workplace, you can't be afraid to give or receive criticism. It is ok to be candid, but show your future employer that you heard the feedback and did something about it.
"I received feedback from my manager that because I was pushing for so many new ideas, it seemed like I knew more than everybody else- especially some of the staff who had been here for many years. I took this feedback and decided to include others on my team in shaping some of the new ideas I had before bringing them up in the team meeting. This approach really helped to get their buy-in."
Employers want to know that you have done your homework on the company. Talk about your background with the company and the research you have done. Find people you know who work at the company and talk to them before your interview. Find financial information on the company including stock prices and the previous year's annual reports.
"The United Health Care brand is very well known in our community and I know several people who work here. I know that your company had soaring stock prices last year and has continued to grow over the last 5 years. This is what makes me even more excited to work here."
"I studied your core values and found they greatly align with my own. I also love the fact you promote volunteerism within your employees- this is very important to me and I'm excited to learn even more about how to get involved."
The interviewer wants to see that you have a plan in how you will work from home successfully. Some people can't handle this lack of structure, so show that you are able to be very productive.
"I was able to work from home a few days a week in my last role. I have a specific routine I follow. Working in pajamas does NOT happen in my house- I dress as if I was going to work, go to a specific office space in my home, and take regular breaks as I would in the office. I utilize Skype and chat features to keep in touch with colleagues so it doesn't feel isolating."
"I enjoy the flexibility that working from home offers. Last year, when I was in school, I had several on-line courses versus classroom courses. I made sure I was in a quiet place, free of noise and distraction, so I could fully focus on the material. I also took advantage of all the on-line communities so it felt like my "classmates" were accessible. I also met with people face-to-face when I had the chance so that we built a relationship. I would use all of these tools in this position."
Employers expect employees to stay up-to-date on their respective field, and today's technology makes this reasonably easy! List several ways that you receive your industry knowledge and stay on top of trends. Tell the interviewer about those daily update emails you receive from professional organizations, conferences you attend, and seminars you have taken. Lastly, it's a great idea to ask the interviewer what resources they refer to for industry trends. That question can start up a great conversation, and you may learn a thing or two as well.
"Every morning I listen to X Podcast because I find the information to be fresh, and valuable. In addition to this podcast, I also subscribe to a couple of industry blogs. One is ABC, and the other is XYZ. I greatly value the information shared between fellow professionals. What resources do you prefer to stay on top of industry trends and changes?"
"I am an avid fan of google alerts! I will receive an email with the related information any time there is a major headline about the healthcare services industry. In addition to this, I also subscribe to a couple of medical-related journals."
Show the interviewer that you work well with most personalities even though you recognize there are some folks out there who are quite difficult to please. Think about that one person at work who is seen as hard to please. Perhaps there is someone at work who tries to intimidate others. Talk to the interviewer about what made this person challenging and what their relationship was with you. Avoid speaking poorly of anyone and be sure to end your response on a positive note.
"In my previous position, I did have a coworker who didn't pull their weight. This unmotivated coworker created more work for the rest of the team by being slow and unresponsive. Our team started to complete most of the tasks when it came to group projects. It didn't take much time before our department head noticed this particular individual was slacking. I feel like, in most instances, the underachievers will weed themselves out over time, and it's rarely worth making a fuss over."
This question is a delicate one, and you need to show respect for the onboarding process. Talk about your 'value proposition'- what will you do for the company in a short period of time? If you want to make an impact with your answer, refer to the immediate needs of the company such as increasing budgets, or improving patient care, for instance.
"When we were speaking earlier, you mentioned you need the team to follow the same process. I would need time to learn more about the organization, but in short order, I can do an intake of all the different ways the team is doing things, summarize, and choose the best practices, while including the team. This could be a really quick win that would make a big impact."
There are many facets of health care. If you could choose any area of healthcare to specialize in, which would you choose? Be sure to tie your answer into some aspects of what UnitedHealth Group does.
"If I could choose any area of healthcare services to be a subject matter expert in, I would choose geriatric care. I do feel that this particular focus is not as popular as some, and become an expert in it would allow me to snowball in my career."
"I have a variety of interests within healthcare service, so that is a tough question for me! I suppose if I had to narrow it to just one area of expertise, I would say palliative care and the necessary family care that comes with it."
Stress can often be a regular part of the day to day work experience. Talk to the interviewer about which areas of your career are the most stressful. Ensure that your answer does not include a factor that would make you appear unfit for the position. (IE: a bus driver should not find driving to be the most stressful part of the job).
"The part of my career that brings me the most stress is when there is an issue with a team member and there is tension. I try to be the person who gets this issue out in the open so that we can move on and work well together without that underlying tension."
"To be completely transparent, I probably bring myself the most stress because of my innate desire to be the best. I strive for perfection too often, which causes undue stress on myself. I manage this by focusing my energy on productive activities that are good for my career."
This is a pretty general question, but often asked. Keep it short! Take a few minutes to tell the interviewer a few things about yourself. You can begin with your education and work your way into your career history. Bring up anything that is interesting and highlights your ability to be a responsible, reliable, and bright individual.
"A bit about me - I love to travel, read, and conduct research. I am a recent grad from Columbia University and have spent the past 12 months traveling the world. It was the best experience that I could have given myself as I was able to learn so much from seeing how the rest of the world lives. I returned to the US just last month and had been actively looking for work the past couple of weeks. I am looking forward to getting into the routine of a career again."
"I graduated with a degree in Communications and through an internship, decided that marketing was my path. My first job was with a baseball team, handling promotions and everything in between! I wanted to work in an industry that was helping people, so I took the job I have now, a Coordinator position, at a local hospital. I've been able to do so many cool things helping patients see what services we offered and learning the industry. Now, I'm ready to see a different side here in the medical insurance industry. I also love to run and spend time volunteering with a non-profit helping them with their marketing efforts."
It is essential to keep a healthy work/life balance to prevent burnout. Talk to the interviewer about how you can maintain that appropriate balance for yourself while making sure the needs of the business are also prioritized.
"I find that with the right company, it's pretty simple to balance life and work. When I enjoy what I do it doesn't feel like a chore. I am always sure that when at home, my family gets my attention first. I take time on the weekends to do things for myself and ensure that I regenerate before the work week begins. I do understand, though, there are times where the need of the business might mean some evening or weekend work and I want to make sure the job is done right."
"I make a strong effort to keep a healthy balance by spending my free time away from my cell phone and having more face-to-face time with my friends and family. I indulge in the things that make me happy, on my time off. By consistently rejuvenating in this way, I can give even more energy when I am at work."
In which situation are you the happiest and most productive? Talk to the interviewer about your preference when it comes to teamwork or working individually. Be sure to avoid pigeonholing yourself into one particular scenario (IE: I only like to work by myself). You may work well without the need for much management or direction, or perhaps you are better driven in a collaborative and team led environment. Either way, be honest with the interviewer about your preferences without leaning negatively, either way.
"Whether I am doing an independent project, or working in a team environment, I always give my best. I enjoy the camaraderie of working in a team, but I can be successful working autonomously as well."
"I have found, in the past, that I work well in an individually driven environment; however, I can certainly be productive in a team-based setting as well."
To succeed in our industry, you should have a solid level of compassion for your patients or customers. The interviewer wants to make sure that you will go above and beyond what is 'normal'.
"I was working with a member whose husband just passed away and she had questions about his insurance policy as she still had bills to take care of from his final days. I told her that I was so sorry for her loss and I asked if she could share something about her husband. I then gave her all the information she needed. She thanked me and hung up. I also took the time to send a hand-written note in the mail expressing my sympathy for her."
"I consider the data analytics team my customer, even though they are an internal customer. One of the team members was asking me repeatedly for the same kind of reports. I finally started asking questions about why she was asking for this information and discovered that one of the feeds was broken. I called our reporting guru to see if they were aware of the issue and they weren't. Within a few days, the feed was fixed and our analyst had everything she needed. She thanked me for taking the time to make the extra call and asking more questions to figure out the root of the problem."
Personality and character are two very different things. The interviewer is looking for more information on your traits vs. your integrity. Your example could include buzzwords such as introverted, energetic, and confident.
"I would describe my personality as approachable, light-hearted, and positive. I believe that, if asked, my colleagues and supervisor would say the same about me."
"I'm genuinely easy-going, probably from all the international travel I experienced in my 20's. I like to do the right thing, and sometimes I get stressed trying to reach that goal, but I think it's a worthwhile endeavor. I can be funny, but my sense of humor is pretty dry, so people don't always know that about me when they first meet me."
Being flexible and able to handle change is a skill that all employers desire to see. Discuss with the interviewer your ability to approach a problem using new methods. Give a recent example but make sure to spend more time highlighting the resolution rather than the problem.
"When our office came under new management last year many new methods and policies came into place. I was able to act as a change agent to help others on the team adapt to the changes. I quite enjoyed the process."
Problem-solving and dispute resolution are critical skills to possess. Display to the interviewer that you are capable of problem-solving within the workplace. Talk about a time when you were creative, proactive, and displayed the leadership qualities required to resolve a workplace issue.
"In my most recent position we had a consistent problem with employees showing up late for their shifts or calling in sick at the very last moment. Rather than the typical documenting and reprimanding style that management usually takes, I decided to track the results of an accountability reward system. For 180 days, my employees were rewarded for coming to work 10 minutes early. Also, for every month with zero sick days, a bonus was added. In the end, we awarded those with perfect attendance a $600 bonus. The bonus' cost us less money, in the end than the cost of lowered productivity due to absent employees. The program was a success, and upper management chose to keep it implemented for another six months. We will re-assess in December, but it seems to be working very well."
"I was working in an office where employee morale was very low due to some layoffs done the year before. I decided to do something about it and formed a committee to increase engagement. I pulled 4 other people into the committee and we planned a weekly activity that was inexpensive, but still allowed people to leave their cubes and network with the others on our floor. Some of the activities seemed corny, but it really worked to create the "fun" that was missing from our workplace. You could feel a difference in the culture in just a few months."
Every hiring manager would like to know that their investment of time and training will pay off. Assure the interviewer that you see this position as a long-term fit. How does this role with UnitedHealth Group fit into your longer-term plans?
"In 3-5 years I would like to see my career with UnitedHealth Group include a path towards a leadership role. I am very keen on paving a long-term career in the healthcare services realm and would love the opportunity to do that here."
"One of the attractive points of working for UnitedHealth Group is that you care about the growth of your employees. I'm motivated to learn and am looking for a long-term fit. In 3-5 years I'd like to be grounded in the organization, learn this role completely, and be able to create process improvement and efficiencies. Personally, I'd like to get involved in some of the local volunteer organizations. I speak Spanish, and I have an interest in urban outreach so it would be nice to do something formal in that context...health-education or fundraising."
The interviewer would like to know if you are motivated to read articles, journals, news, and other research to stay current in the ever-changing industry of health care.
"I want to be the person who brings news that impacts our department to the table. I have Google alerts set up in a variety of topics so I can stay updated if any events might impact our work."
"I am a member of ____ professional organization and there is a newsletter that I always read. I'm also part of a LinkedIn Group where we share any changes impacting our industry amongst the group."
The interviewer would like to know how they could continue to motivate you - even on the hardest of days. Do you need to have verbal recognition? Are you motivated solely by the success of your team? Talk to the interviewer about how you have stayed motivated in the past.
"I am an easily motivated individual, and it does not take much to keep me engaged. I am fully aware that healthcare-related positions can seem thankless. Honestly, the best thanks that I can get is a pat on the back now and then. The majority of my motivation comes from simply helping people."
The interviewer would like to dig deeper into your true areas of interest when it comes to the health care industry. They want to know that your passions align well with what UnitedHealth Group is offering. Talk to the interviewer about the areas of health care you would like to focus on most, and then tie that information in with what the position at UnitedHealth Group would be offering you.
"If I could expand my expertise in any health care service area I would choose a role that had the most impact on patient lives. This is one of the reasons I have applied with your company. I feel that your focus will be a great fit with my long-term career goals."
"I'm interested in research. One of the things that attracted me to working with your company is your ongoing community-based research collaborations. I'd be curious to hear if the [clinic/hospital/program] had any needs in this area. Is this something junior staff can be involved in?"
Talk to the interviewer about the ways that you ensure accuracy and organization in your day to day activities. Perhaps you use a particular app or software. Maybe you are a pen and paper person. Whatever your method, be sure to highlight that you are successful in organizing your day.
"I am a highly detailed person, and I thrive on having a high level of organization in my day. This organization includes my scheduling, paperwork, and more. If I am offered a position with UnitedHealth Group you will never find me to be disorganized! I utilize my Outlook calendar and set alerts for myself for deadlines and important activities. My documentation is strong as well."
"I'm a bit of a nerd. I carry around a notebook and write down important facts if I think there is a chance I will forget them. However, I put time and attention into using the latest technology that others on my team are leveraging so we can be more efficient. If there is a way we can share information, it will help everybody!"
Working in the healthcare services industry means that you are in contact with vulnerable people, children, pharmaceutical drugs, drug-related equipment, confidential information, and other areas of sensitivity. Assure the interviewer that you are able and willing to pass a complete background check. If you have a criminal record, you must disclose this.
"I have a clean criminal record and am happy to comply with any background check you require of me."
"No problem. I understand that it's part of the job. But I want to be up-front, I have done a full background check before, and there is a possibility you will see a charge for possession of marijuana in the check. It was several years ago, and it's no longer an issue for me because I've made significant changes in my life to pursue this career. But I don't want you to be surprised by the information. I'm happy to answer any questions you have."
It's always a great idea to research the company before your interview. You want to get to know their care philosophy so that your answer can reflect what is important to them. What is the core of your care philosophy? Keep your answer concise yet sincere.
"Every day at work, I remind myself that everyone I come across has their struggles. Every person we care for has a story. I make sure to get to know my patients whenever possible. Everyone has the right to compassionate care."
Assure the interviewer that you would treat everyone at UnitedHealth Group with great respect and a positive attitude. Discuss the ways that you would build strong and healthy relationships if hired.
"I have often been complimented on my relationship building skills. I like to get to know people and ask them questions about themselves. Most people love to talk about themselves, and I find it's a great and simple way to start building rapport with others. I consider myself to be a strong relationship builder and take pride in my 'people skills'. Rest assured, I would be a great ambassador of positive relationships for UnitedHealth Group."
Take a few minutes to walk the interviewer through your formal post-secondary education as well as any on the job training. Talk about your most positive take-away's from your post-secondary experience and be sure to tie in how that experience will help you succeed in this position.
"I have a nursing degree as well as additional on the job training within clinical research. I feel that my nursing education opened up many potential industry-related avenues for me. I graduated top of my class and completed a valuable internship with 'XYZ Health Services'. All of these experiences have helped prepare me for success in this role with UnitedHealth Group."
"I have a degree in biology and thought I wanted to go on to medical school, but discovered I really like the business side of health care. I started taking classes in business and management and did an internship in the corporate office of a hospital system. These combination of experiences would give me a really good base for a position at United Health Group."
The interview wants to know that you are scalable within the organization and can grow to a higher level role in the future. Discuss a time when you solved a problem before your manager knew it existed or when you anticipated a need within the business.
"I noticed that our department was utilizing Excel spreadsheets for complex reports. The process was very manual and took about 1 hour out of everybody's day. I noticed we had a new database tool after a recent software upgrade, so I research it, tested it, and then brought the idea to my manager as an alternative. She loved the idea and has now asked me to train the whole team on how to use it"
"I'm really excited to grow within the organization. I noticed that our team was tracking customer conversations slightly differently making reporting very difficult. I developed a key so that everybody knew exactly how to code and created consistency amongst the team. The data in the reports was much better and more accurate after that"."
Patient privacy is "everything" in health care. The interviewer wants to know that you can make the right decision each and every time, not breaching patient confidentiality. Integrity can also be applicable to company policies and ensuring you are following them each and every time.
"During one of our breaks, I had a co-worker who posted on social media specific information about a patient's medical situation and how she helped him. This is against company policy, but also could be a HIPAA breach. I notified my manager right away. My colleague wasn't happy with me, but I had to take action and do the right thing"
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UnitedHealth Group Inc. is a diversified managed health care company headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S. It is No. 14 on Fortune magazines top 500 companies in the United States. UnitedHealth Group offers a spectrum of products and services through two operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare and Optum. Through its family of subsidiaries and divisions, UnitedHealth Group serves approximately 70 million individuals nationwide. In 2011, the company posted a net earnings of $5.142 billion.