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Healthcare PM Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated February 16th, 2020 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Health    
Question 1 of 30
A Healthcare Project Manager must be an agile problem solver. In your opinion, what does it take to be a great problem solver?
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How to Answer
In the life of a Healthcare Project Manager, problem-solving is a critical factor for success. The hiring company wants to know that you have a systematic approach to problem-solving. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face problems in the workplace. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions. Remember that strong problem-solvers are:

- Systematic thinkers
- Open-minded
- Okay with being wrong sometimes
- Always researching and exploring
- Adept in identifying the core problem
- Ready to reverse engineer a challenge to avoid future issues
- Able to come up with multiple avenues that work well for all stakeholders
- Are do-ers and not worriers
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Answer Examples
1.
A Healthcare Project Manager must be an agile problem solver. In your opinion, what does it take to be a great problem solver?
In the life of a Healthcare Project Manager, problem-solving is a critical factor for success. The hiring company wants to know that you have a systematic approach to problem-solving. Consider the skills and qualities that help you successfully face problems in the workplace. Perhaps you have a keen eye for detail. Maybe you can see opportunity when others can only focus on the issue. Share your strengths as a problem solver, and your ability to come up with innovative solutions. Remember that strong problem-solvers are:

- Systematic thinkers
- Open-minded
- Okay with being wrong sometimes
- Always researching and exploring
- Adept in identifying the core problem
- Ready to reverse engineer a challenge to avoid future issues
- Able to come up with multiple avenues that work well for all stakeholders
- Are do-ers and not worriers

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My current reports tell me that I am an excellent problem solver, and I believe this is because I have a natural organizational mind, further developed as I earned my Bachelor's in Healthcare Management. I can take an issue, reverse engineer to solve it, and then use that resolution as a basis for avoiding future issues. I am also a big-picture thinker, which allows me to come up with various resolutions per problem."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a well-honed ability to research, read, and explore for answers. I believe these are critical factors for problem-solving, especially in the ever-changing and highly-regulated healthcare industry. When I base my recommendations on facts rather than by guessing, I develop my knowledge base, get to the core of the issue faster, and build the respect of my team members. This approach will be especially important as I begin my career as a Healthcare Project Manager."
2.
We seek to hire a Healthcare Project Manager with formal education in health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration, or business administration. Do you have a related advanced degree?
Bring your education to life by discussing the degree you obtained, your top coursework, what studies you believe will be most relevant to the job, and any awards, accolades, or scholarships you may have earned along the way. It will be imperative that you show how your educational background and strengths will ensure your success in this Healthcare Project Management role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In addition to my degree in business administration, I have recently obtained a Masters Certificate in Healthcare Management. I wanted to niche down to further my opportunities in the healthcare industry. While earning my Masters Certificate, I learned a great deal about the role of the leader in healthcare, system integration, best practices for implementing change in healthcare, and how to build horizontal and vertical partnerships for seamless patient care. Where I shine and know that my expertise will be the most valuable is in Lean Management for Healthcare, including the implementation of improvement strategies and delivering consistent outcomes that are high quality and meet a healthcare organizations' immense need for efficiencies."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Health Administration, where my studies focused on the American health care system, leadership, organizational change, and efficiencies in healthcare. I graduated in the top 5% and am eager to take this newfound knowledge and bring it to work for your organization."
3.
If you notice that a project is off track, what action steps do you take to course correct?
A project running off track can be incredibly frustrating for any project manager. The interviewer wants to know what you do, in these instances, to course correct and move the project to successful completion. Take the hiring authority through the steps you take, showing that you have confidence in your decisions. If you are new to your career, you can base your answer on a hypothetical situation.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I notice that a project is going off track, I first uncover the core of the 'why' before jumping into action to fix the situation. Reacting too quickly can add to the initial problem if we miss the critical step of root-cause analysis. Information gathering is helpful for a team to continue working together while also developing systems for future situations where the issue could happen again. Once I have the accurate information, I can then move forward to reprioritize and restructure tasks."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I noticed that a project was running off track, I would first discover the core of the issue and then reassess my resources. Next, I would ensure that I had assigned the best people to the right tasks. This assessment may mean that I have to redelegate. I would also identify which team members could be more hands-on with critical activities. I would focus on competency and what I could do to move forward, rather than dwell on the setback."
4.
What stage of project management do you feel you are the strongest?
The hiring authority would like to see where your strengths are when it comes to different stages of project management. In a typical project, the steps may include:

- Project scope/definition
- Project initiation
- Planning
- Execution
- Monitoring/control
- Closure

Of course, as a project manager, especially if you are an experienced one, you will have strengths in each area. However, you may find that you have stand-out advantages in one or two specific areas of project management. Speak about your most considerable skills, and close off your answer by mentioning exactly how your most significant strengths will be an asset to the company, should you be the successful candidate.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Although I have vast experience in all stages of a hospital expansion project, I believe my greatest skills are in the project definition stage. I am strong in setting reasonable project goals, outlining objectives, the scope of work, identifying potential risks, and then budgeting around that information. I understand that your organization takes extra care in the definition stage, which ensures that projects go off the rails less frequently. As an avid planner, it seems that my strengths and the organizations' approach would be a strong match."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Between my Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Management and my recently obtained PMP certification, I feel confident in my knowledge base of all project stages. With that said, where I excelled the most in school and during my internship was with project monitoring and control. In school, I received top marks in Project Delivery Systems and Project Organization and Supervision. I understand the importance of regularly reporting issues, continually assessing risks, and closely monitoring progress. Rest assured, should I be hired as your next Healthcare PM, I will make sure that projects are delivered as expected."
5.
Have you ever experienced conflict on the job? If so, how was it handled?
The hiring company wants to see that, as a highly visible leader in their organization, you bring self-awareness, maturity, and professionalism. While you do not always have to agree with everyone, the interviewer wants to see that you respond appropriately in the face of conflict. The key to successfully answering this question is to impress upon the interviewer that you are a respectful professional who treats others fairly. If you are newer to your career, you can draw from a post-secondary example (perhaps you had a conflict with a professor or on a team project).

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My first manager was a challenging person. His expectations were often unreasonable and would come with little explanation. I worked with him for two years and left when I knew I was no longer benefitting from his leadership. I was pretty green and did not feel I had the years behind me to openly challenge his working style. I did keep my head down for the most part, but the benefit came to me at a later time when I took on my first leadership role. I knew what I did not want to be like; thus, the experience helped to shape my communication style as a Healthcare Project Manager."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have disagreed with fellow students during various group projects, but there have only been a couple of times where it has become a true conflict. One instance that comes to mind was regarding the distribution of work when a new group project was assigned. The group leader created a meeting schedule that conflicted with most of the team members' other commitments. This schedule was a problem because it was obvious the group would struggle with keeping in timely communication. I laid out the reasons why this schedule would not work. Although the group leader had little empathy for anyone else's' commitments, in the end, we identified other times that we could meet, keeping everyone's project schedule's more achievable."
6.
How do you maintain a good relationship with your director, the board, and other healthcare executives?
The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of maintaining a harmonious relationship with those who are considered your leaders or project stakeholders, whether internal or external. If your relationships in the past weren't fantastic, what efforts did you take to make them better? Some basic ground rules for a stable working relationship with your directors are open communication, proactive listening, and not taking things personally when feedback arises. Discuss, in a positive way, the approach you took to cultivating a healthy relationship with those to whom you reported.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My current director is a very particular individual. Over the years, I have taken the time to understand her preferences, her stress triggers, and what she enjoys seeing in my work. I find that if I stay one step ahead and maintain a positive attitude, we can work productively together."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I find that maintaining good relationships comes naturally to me. I plan to show respect to my director and other stakeholders, as well as maintain interest in their professional opinion. I will ask for feedback and to be observed and evaluated through all project stages. All of these factors culminate in a solid relationship based on mutual respect."
7.
How comfortable are you performing duties related to negotiation and conflict resolution? Give an example of a time when you resolved an issue in the workplace.
Much of your role as a Healthcare PM will be to negotiate rates, timelines, project vision, and contracts. When deadlines and budgets are tight, with many opinions involved and a lot of moving parts, conflict can arise. Show the interviewer that you are not one to back down from a critical negotiation or potentially damaging conflict. Use an example from your recent work history. If you are new to your career, you can discuss a time from your post-secondary experience.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have been involved in numerous negotiations and conflicts, and am very comfortable in my skills within this area. I am sure to listen more than I talk, and I frame the conversation positively. One example of my resolution skills in action was when I came across a significant difference in project vision between the client and the engineering and architecture firm. Everyone was working towards the same goal of making the client happy; however, some of the clients' desires could not occur in a way that worked within their budget. I carefully communicated the disconnect between vision and budget, leading the client to increase their budget by $200K. In the end, we all landed on the same page, and we were able to deliver the clients' vision to a tee."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I understand that a successful project comes from teamwork, clear communication, and a shared vision. For this reason, I need to be strong in conflict resolution and leading workable negotiations. In university, we had many successful group projects and the odd group project that was not as team-oriented as I would have liked. During a health services marketing project, our group didn't work efficiently due to personality differences. Some chose to be independent and not act as team players, which made the work a lot harder than it needed to be. Overall, this slowed down the flow of the project. I decided to address the communication problems and differences in personality. I stated that we needed to overcome our differences for the benefit of the project and our overall grade. Once I framed the situation in a way that benefitted everyone, they all agreed to set aside their differences, finishing the project faster and more efficiently than it started."
8.
Healthcare projects often have tight targets, and missing a cutoff can be very costly. How do you react when your team misses a deadline?
In the healthcare industry, missing a deadline can be devastating to a projects' budget. Not only are missed targets a pain point for stakeholders, but they can also reflect poorly on you as a leader and project manager. The hiring authority wants to know how you react to disappointment and project plans, not going your way. Give an example of a time when your team missed a deadline and walk the interviewer through the action that you took. If you have encountered this situation before, try to deploy the STAR method by including an overview of the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"We reach deadlines as a team, and we miss deadlines as a team. I truly believe in that philosophy. Although this does not often happen, when we miss a deadline, I look at how we could have moved better as a group, to meet the original delivery. I do not react negatively to my team members, but I do use those situations as learning and coaching opportunities. For instance, last year, we had a $15M hospital project underway when it came to my attention that some of our supplies were on hold due to new changes in NAFTA. It became apparent that I needed to find a new supplier for carious finishings. To pivot, I quickly sourced similar products from within the country and had them express shipped. I was able to negotiate good deals, so it only impacted our overall budget by 2%. I made up for the additional material costs by finding savings in labor. All in all, the project was completed on time and budget. My team stuck with me through the entire process, and I showed my gratitude for their hard work and dedication."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As a Healthcare PM, it is important that I never place blame on my team for a deadline that I missed. A project managers' entire job is to meet the timeliness of a project so I would take full responsibility. For that reason, if I were to miss a deadline, I would first reflect internally and then ask my team and management for feedback. I would craft a plan around what went awry and how I could prevent it from happening again in the future."
9.
Have you ever received negative feedback from a director, and if so, how did you handle it?
Receiving negative feedback can be discouraging, but it doesn't have to be something that leaves you feeling incapable of doing your job. The critical thing to remember when answering this question is to avoid speaking negatively about the person who gave you the feedback. Instead, state what happened and how you grew from the event.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I remember when I first began my project management career, I thought I had to do everything for everyone. I ended up taking on too many tasks and falling behind on deadlines. One of my directors told me that another project manager had complained because I seemed too rushed. I was so embarrassed because I didn't want anyone to feel like I couldn't do my job. I apologized to the director and the other PM. When I apologized, the director and board agreed to let me continue leading the project. I learned that it's ok to want to give more, but that I should not stretch myself too thin and risk compromising the quality of a project and, in turn, overall patient care and experience."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am sure that anyone who works in the healthcare industry for any amount of time will learn that receiving negative feedback is not always a truly 'negative' thing. I recall I once received a negative rating on one of my evaluations during my internship. It was a disheartening experience because I pride myself on doing good work. I scheduled a time to sit and talk with my supervisor and tried to understand his point of view concerning the negative rating. Then, I made a plan of action to improve on the issue."
10.
Which resources do you lean on to stay in-the-know on the rules, regulations, and quality standards of the healthcare industry?
A Healthcare Project Manager should put considerable effort into ensuring they are up to date on regulatory changes and quality standards in the health care industry. This knowledge is vital for a PM to have so they can plan accordingly while also ensuring best practices. Show the interviewer that you lean on reputable resources, being sure to express your enthusiasm for being in-the-know.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I lean on a few strong resources, including The US Department of Health & Human Services as well as the website HealthIT.gov. These sources provide me with a wealth of information, giving me an edge and ensuring I stay on top of the latest trends and news."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Right now, my favorite resource is the Health Sciences Authority, which I believe to be a reputable national authority. They also provide great coursework for Healthcare PM education. I plan to subscribe to updates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and keep in-the-know with resources from the Department of Health. Do you have any recommendations to help me continually grow my knowledge base as a PM in the healthcare industry?"
11.
How do you explain complicated PM concepts to someone who may not understand?
The hiring authority wants to know that you are capable of explaining complex project ideas without being condescending to your team, clients, or key stakeholders. Give the interviewer an example of how you dissect complicated information to make it more easily digestible for the layperson.

Think of a complex topic in your industry, and a time when you needed to give a presentation on that topic, train someone new or base a proposal on this complex information. When you can define key terms and concepts to make them more relevant to your audience, you have skill! Not everyone can do this. Prepare an example that demonstrates your communication skills and your ability to convey complex information in easy to understand terms.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I find that budgeting and cost control, although easy concepts for me to understand, are often misunderstood by others. When there is a complicated concept to teach, I find that visual aids are often helpful. Studies show that 65% of people are visual learners and that presentations with visual components are 43% more persuasive. For that reason, I taught myself to create effective presentations with visuals. I use these visuals when meeting with project stakeholders."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"While attending university, I also worked part-time as a tutor for other healthcare management students. I found the best way to explain a complex topic was by using a multi-step approach. First, I would send a quick email summarizing what we'd be reviewing in our upcoming tutoring session. This approach helped the student to come to our session with the right mindset and prepared to learn. Then, I provided a basic overview of the topic in person, checking for understanding all along the way. By the end of our session, I would recap and summarize. Lastly, I would give out collateral for the student to review a few hours later. This process allowed for various types of learners to be engaged while taking in bits of information at a time, rather than feeling forced to absorb too much information at once."
12.
What project management methodology do you most prefer; Waterfall, Agile, or Scrum? Explain your reasoning.
When answering this question, you will want to show that you have a solid understanding of the differences between Waterfall, Agile, and Scum. The more directly you can explain these project management methodologies, the better your expertise will shine. Show your knowledge and demonstrate your preference. You must show a balance in your response by respecting all approaches, not speaking negatively about any other PM approaches.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My clear preference in methodologies, when it comes to project management would be Waterfall. Waterfall project management is commonly used in healthcare since healthcare executives prefer to see a sequence of tasks from beginning to end. I find Waterfall to be best for projects that are highly sequential by nature. I find Agile great for breaking down project tasks that may not fit so stringently into Waterfall. Agile also opens the door to conversations around continual improvement. With Scrum being ideal for very small teams, I have not had much exposure to its use. It's a 'short sprint' approach, making it generally unsuitable for long-term or larger-scale projects in the healthcare industry. Could you share with me the project management methodology preferred within this organization?"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"While earning my degree in Healthcare Administration and Project Management, I learned a good deal about many methodologies, including Waterfall and Agile. I did not touch on Scrum too much because, although it is agile, it's also best for teams of 10 or less. I will develop a stronger preference as I build my experience as a Healthcare PM; however, right now, I believe Waterfall is more commonly used in the healthcare industry. Healthcare executives highly prefer it as it's most structured and systematic. I look forward to learning these organizations' preferred approach to running projects."
13.
Highlight your top leadership qualities for me and how they benefit you as a Healthcare Project Manager.
A great leader is someone who people naturally want to follow. They have exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with nearly any personality type. A respected leader will take ownership of their mistakes and will always lead their team by example. True leaders see the importance of motivating others and recognizing even the smallest achievements. As you know, these are all essential qualities for a Healthcare Project Manager.

The interviewer wants to know what you consider to be strong leadership qualities for a Healthcare PM. When describing your leadership qualities, avoid general terms, and give some specifics. Be sure to talk about how these qualities will help you to succeed in this role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I sum up my leadership qualities as dedicated, attentive to detail, and accountable. As a Healthcare Project Manager, I must lead by example and show my team what it means to be dedicated to a job and deliver the best work. This approach is beneficial because it teaches my team to own up to their mistakes and work hard to reverse any errors we may encounter during a project."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I possess many leadership qualities that will help me grow my career in the healthcare industry, and as a project manager. These skills include diligence, tenacity, and open communication. With diligence and tenacity, I will always be available and on-the-ball when it comes to the needs of your critical projects. With open communication, I will guide my team with enthusiasm and clarity at all project stages."
14.
When change occurs in the workplace, it can create new problems. Do you see these as inconvenient problems or opportunities to learn?
As a Project Manager, you already know that when a change occurs in the workplace, problems often arise due to new implementations and procedures or unforeseen kinks that need smoothing. Do you approach these problems positively, or do you resist the change? Talk to the interviewer about how you adapt to issues that cause change. If you have work experience, try answering this question using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Change is inevitable when you work in the healthcare industry, as there are multiple moving parts and ever-changing regulations. Also, with a blend of permanent employees, temporary staff, and subcontractors, even the most skilled PM cannot control everyone's actions in a day. Recently I had a major shift in my team and, overnight, went from being completely staffed to reassessing our temporary staffing strategy due to multiple no-shows. I saw this as an opportunity to stretch outside of my comfort zone. I found a new temporary staffing agency that could provide a greater number of reliable service workers at an even lower rate than I was previously budgeting. In the end, I saw this situation as a blessing because it caused me to revisit my temp labor spend, saving me nearly $15K by the end of the project. I embrace unexpected changes and certainly view them as learning opportunities."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Being new to my PM career, I plan to approach every day and situation as an opportunity to learn and grow, even if it's uncomfortable. I believe there's something valuable to take away from any situation that involves change, so I remain adaptable. I am capable of pivoting when needed and maintain focus through unexpected challenges."
15.
Do you consider yourself someone direct and forthright with others?
As a Healthcare Project Manager, you will need to be direct and lead your team to project completion. The hiring authority wants to see that you do not leave people hanging when it comes to answering questions, providing direction on a project, or offering necessary feedback. Talk to the interviewer about a time when you were candid with a coworker, customer, or superior, ensuring that they had the direct information that they needed from you.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Yes, I do consider myself to be direct with others. The most professional and respectful thing to do is to get to the point in a considerate way. I never sugar coat a situation; however, I do assume that everyone had the best of intentions. One example of my being direct is when one of my employees delivers a project report with errors. I will approach them and say, 'There are errors in your report. Are you able to fix these by the end of the day?' By doing so, I point out the issue while being transparent and direct on what the deadlines are for resubmission. As the person leading a project to the finish line, I must be clear on expectations every step of the way."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe that part of being direct is sticking to the facts when discussing a workplace situation. If there is a concern with my work, I would appreciate my supervisor approaching me promptly while outlining what needs repair. As a recent university graduate, I had many opportunities to be direct and give feedback to fellow students during group projects. I would state where I saw the issue and then offered up clear recommendations on how we could fix the situation before the assignments' due date."
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30 Healthcare PM Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. A Healthcare Project Manager must be an agile problem solver. In your opinion, what does it take to be a great problem solver?
  2. We seek to hire a Healthcare Project Manager with formal education in health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration, or business administration. Do you have a related advanced degree?
  3. If you notice that a project is off track, what action steps do you take to course correct?
  4. What stage of project management do you feel you are the strongest?
  5. Have you ever experienced conflict on the job? If so, how was it handled?
  6. How do you maintain a good relationship with your director, the board, and other healthcare executives?
  7. How comfortable are you performing duties related to negotiation and conflict resolution? Give an example of a time when you resolved an issue in the workplace.
  8. Healthcare projects often have tight targets, and missing a cutoff can be very costly. How do you react when your team misses a deadline?
  9. Have you ever received negative feedback from a director, and if so, how did you handle it?
  10. Which resources do you lean on to stay in-the-know on the rules, regulations, and quality standards of the healthcare industry?
  11. How do you explain complicated PM concepts to someone who may not understand?
  12. What project management methodology do you most prefer; Waterfall, Agile, or Scrum? Explain your reasoning.
  13. Highlight your top leadership qualities for me and how they benefit you as a Healthcare Project Manager.
  14. When change occurs in the workplace, it can create new problems. Do you see these as inconvenient problems or opportunities to learn?
  15. Do you consider yourself someone direct and forthright with others?
  16. If you were responsible for hiring new employees for our hospital's project, what qualities would you look for in a candidate, and do you think you possess those qualities?
  17. In your position now, knowing what you do, what would you say to someone who is just now beginning a career in the healthcare field?
  18. The Healthcare Project Manager plays a critical role in our organization. How can we motivate you as a leader, keeping you engaged in the job?
  19. As a Healthcare Project Manager, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of leading your current team?
  20. What Healthcare Project Management software do you prefer to use?
  21. How do you go about assessing your team members' strengths and delegating work to each member of your project team?
  22. How many team members do you have experience managing? Include their job titles and the extent of your leadership involvement.
  23. How do you ensure the budgetary health of a project?
  24. In your opinion, what are the most prominent signs that a project is off track?
  25. Describe your project management style and how you feel it will benefit our organization.
  26. Have you ever worked on a project that spanned the course of a few years?
  27. What gives you the most satisfaction working as a project manager in the healthcare industry?
  28. Do you have formal Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma training? If not, are you open to exploring options towards Six Sigma Certification?
  29. Are you PMP certified? If not, are you interested in gaining this designation?
  30. What do you understand to be the primary responsibilities of a Healthcare Project Manager?
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