Medical secretary interview questions are typically convoluted and tough to understand. The interview is an important part of landing the job you dream of, regardless of which role you are applying for. However, it is especially impactful for medical secretary candidates.
Medical secretaries need to be masters of great first impressions, and the interview tests just this. If you can excel in the interview, you will significantly increase your odds of succeeding in this career. However, new candidates for medical secretary jobs tend to not succeed during their first interview.
To truly succeed, you must prepare well. In this article, we will help you understand the many potential questions common in medical secretary interviews and how you can respond.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for the medical secretary position?
Every employer is different. Take the difference between private practice and academic institutions, for instance. There are vastly different secretary hours and requirements. They also have completely different target clients, often.
Even within the same workplace setting, every employer can have different goals, standards, financial circumstances, and more. As such, there is no one ideal outline for the best medical secretary. However, some skills are certainly extremely beneficial to have as a medical secretary, including:
If you want to succeed in the medical field, you need to have top-notch communication skills. As a secretary, you will be greeting individuals and acting as the face of a hospital for patients entering the hospital. Therefore, you must focus on building up your relationships with individuals around you and your patients.
This allows you to further your career and develop more fruitful connections with those around you. Great communication can turn superficial relations into deep, trusting bonds as well. Actively listening further adds to these bonds, too.
The organization is an ability that benefits nearly anyone in any field. It propels individuals into becoming more productive, boosts their mental clarity, and saves them time. Those with the strongest organizational skills tend to have the best career outcomes.
They decrease their risk of frustration and allow you to spend time on the most positive aspects of your career. This will help boost your confidence and commitment to your work.
In todayś world, everything runs on computers. There are digital copies for even the simplest paper works, and if you want to succeed in the modern administrative or medical industries, you need to be proficient in these skills.
Computer skills encompass a wide breadth of technological abilities. For instance, medical secretaries should be skilled in using Google Sheets for financial inputs and keeping track of medical inventory. Additionally, using technical communication services like Gmail or Slack are skills that every modern, successful medical secretary has.
Interpersonal abilities sound like a vague term, and they do include many different subsects of skills. However, these seemingly vague terms can help boost your success in this career tremendously. Every time you interact with someone as a medical secretary, you will need to use interpersonal skills.
For instance, some of the most commonly utilized interpersonal abilities include empathy, conflict resolution, negotiation, positivity, emotional intelligence, and many other qualities. These traits can all help you stand out in the job field, and allow you to find long-term success in this career.
Empathy is one of the most crucially important interpersonal abilities one could possess. It allows you to maintain the most meaningful relationships you can for the long term.
When you are a medical secretary, being able to communicate and connect with strangers will be an everyday part of the job. Empathy is the trait that helps you see the world from someone elseś perspective, helping you understand how to best serve them.
As someone aspiring to become a medical secretary, problem-solving is a skill that is absolutely crucial to maintain. As much as new hires would like to believe they can avoid any problem or conflict, the reality is that this is impossible.
Having great problem-solving skills allows you to get back on the right path when an inevitable error does occur. For medical secretaries, this ensures any of your errors are addressed quickly and efficiently instead of impacting the health of the entire enterprise.
23 Medical Secretary Interview Questions and Answers
Now that you are aware of the many different qualities that can help you succeed in the medical secretary field, you may be curious: how can these qualities be shown throughout my interview?
Knowing how to let your strengths shine during the interview and acknowledging effective strategies for addressing interview questions allows you to boost your chances of acquiring your dream job significantly. Below, we have compiled a list of queries that are commonly asked to candidates in this field:
General Interview Questions
1. What is your experience regarding being a medical secretary? What draws you to this career?
Passion is a key factor in the success of nearly all individuals who take their roles seriously. Those that are successful are almost always truly in love with their jobs. They follow the mantra that if you love your work, you never work a day in your life.
Passion contributes to employee loyalty and commitment, which are extremely attractive qualities for candidates. Additionally, it increases your ability to build strong relations and boosts positivity.
One way you could respond is: ¨I fell in love with this career since I saw the immense positive impact great medical secretaries have on hospitals. When I needed to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time following surgery, the medical secretary helped us feel welcomed. She really left a positive impression on me. I want to be that positive, comforting, and productive gateway for patients first entering the hospital.¨
2. What makes you a great candidate for this job?
There are so many potential qualifications that could help you acquire the ideal medical secretary career. However, something has to separate you from the dozens of other candidates that also applied to the job.
Therefore, think of what makes you unique. Consider the company’s specific goals. Read the job description and the companyś values system.
A potential response could look like: ¨I am a great candidate for this job because I have extensive experience in this career. I have worked for over 15 years as a medical secretary, and during that time, I have worked for a wide variety of hospitals. I have developed great communication skills from working with administrators and patients alike.¨
3. Organization skills, the ability to multitask, and being detail-oriented are all qualities that are important to us as an employer. Give me a few examples of you using these skills. What were the results of using these strengths?
All of the qualities and strengths listed in this query are essential to your success in this industry. If you can prove you have strong organizational, time management, multitasking, and detail orientation skills, you will truly stand out as a candidate. Think of times your skills made your team successful, and specifically describe your strengthś role in this success.
To respond, you could say: ¨The best example of me using these skills is when I led a secretary team at my last job. There, I was in charge of leading a project of teaching new secretaries. There, I had to analyze each secretaryś unique skills, thus using detail orientation by noticing every little flaw in the secretary’s input. Plus, I also had to work on several projects at the same time, thus using multitasking.¨
Experience and Background Interview Questions
4. Have you ever worked in an environment similar to ours? Tell me about what you enjoyed and did not enjoy while working there.
If you have experience working in a similar setting, use that to your advantage. Having experience is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of your application, but it can certainly serve to your advantage. Thus, use it whenever possible, but also try to make sure you can connect or correlate your experiences in past jobs with similarities to this current job you applied to. Focus on the positive whenever possible.
For instance, you could say: ¨I have over 3 years of experience working in a large hospital that is nationally ranked. The patient demographic was similar to this one: urban, and a center for rare disease research as well as surgery.
I loved working there, as I got to see many unique patients and work with many amazing coworkers. However, we were extremely understaffed, which forced me to spend less time checking in patients and working with them directly, and much more of the back-end work.¨
5. Think about your prior colleagues and employer. What do you believe they think about your work ethic and strengths?
You should be as honest as you can when answering this question. Highlight your top strengths, but include minor weaknesses your prior coworkers could note too. This shows you are self-aware and willing to admit your faults. This allows you to highlight something you are currently working on.
When answering, you could respond with something along the lines of: ¨If you asked my prior team about me, they would say my top strengths were communication and organization. I would organize all the team events and help keep the team informed about goals for the secretaries and productivity metrics. In addition to this, I would always quickly respond to messages and calls from any colleague. However, a fault they might mention is my lack of decisiveness. I often want to do so many tasks throughout the day that I overwhelm myself. I am currently trying to manage stress better through deep breathing and additional planning.¨
6. Suppose a patient is angry or emotionally hurt. How would you react, and what would you do?
Employers are attracted to medical secretaries who can quickly, efficiently, and positively respond to crisis situations. They need to know you are capable of adapting to these circumstances and that you can handle them properly. Thus, outline a plan for addressing potentially hurt employees and how this plan would positively impact the patient.
A potential response is: ¨If I saw that a patient was distraught or angry, I would immediately intervene to help them. I would ask what made them upset, and create a small list of potential solutions we could implement to solve the issue. I would share these options with the patient so they have control over the solution. I will focus on being respectful, and if I am unsure of what plan of action we must take, I would contact someone from a different department.¨
7. Have any major communication issues occurred during your career? What did you do to overcome this issue?
Communication is at the core of the medical secretary role. It allows you to strongly connect with patients, colleagues, administrators, and bosses. It is your job to ensure this communication is streamlined. Highlight an issue that was significant and the steps you took to solve this problem.
One way to respond would be: ¨One of the most significant communication issues which were present throughout my career was a miscommunication that occurred during a project that I was in charge of. There, I was in charge of keeping track of finances, and someone else made a financial error in the input document because they thought I instructed them to take over the document. To address the issue, I found a way to revert the document to the original and began working on that copy.¨
8. What is the most important role of the medical secretary?
Medical secretaries are highly busy individuals. They wear many hats and perform many duties. Even so, you should find a particular subsection of this job that speaks to you the most. This would allow you to focus on what matters most to you, and what is most impactful in pursuing your goals as well as the goals of your organization. Choose something that is personal and emotional if possible.
One potential way to address this issue: ¨The most important role of the medical secretary is to help the patients feel more comfortable while staying here. We are responsible for being the face of the hospital, and we need to make a great impression on the patients. If we do, this can immensely boost the pateintś physical and emotional health.¨
9. As a medical secretary, how could you protect the privacy and personal safety of patients?
Privacy and security are two crucially important factors that most patients have in mind when they imagine staying at a medical facility. They will not feel comfortable unless you as the medical secretary actively work toward establishing a safe and open environment in the hospital.
For instance, a sample response would be: ¨Patient safety and privacy should be protected by using secure technology in place of paper and unsafe technology. As a secretary, I will ensure that there is proper communication among the team as well, so that information stays in the hands of those who need it. We will try to involve the patient and their families in the decisions regarding their privacy whenever possible, and those that break HIPAA or other protocols will get major penalties.¨
Role-specific interview questions
10. What will you do on a day-to-day basis?
The daily duties of a medical secretary vary on a day-to-day basis. Every employer also has unique goals, patients, and requirements that will significantly impact what you do each day. Therefore, the best way to appeal to the employer is to look at the job description. Think of your prior experiences as well, and see if you can draw from them to create a plan for your daily activities in the future.
A possible way to respond is: ¨On a daily basis, I would like to meet as many clients as possible. I will take charge of making them feel comfortable, check them in, and answer as many questions as I can about the hospital. I will help with administrative tasks, such as contacting different departments for keeping track of patients and finances as well.¨
11. Take me through what you do when you first arrive at the office. How do you start the day and how do you finish up?
This question will help your employer understand the level of organization that you have. It will highlight your top organizational quality as well as time management. If you can highlight your top qualities effectively, you will be viewed extremely positively in the eyes of the employer. Use examples of your prior job if you can.
When answering, you could focus on giving an answer such as: ¨When I first get to the office, I get myself organized for the day. I will create a quick to-do list, reach out to patients if necessary, and make sure any notes from the night before are addressed. Then, I begin working on accomplishing tasks on the to-do list. Finally, when it is time to leave, I reorganize my workspace, check in with my colleagues, and pack up to leave.¨
12. Do you know how to use Electronic Health Records (EHR)? What are they and how do they work?
This query will show the employer how much technical knowledge you have about this industry. They will notice your understanding of this crucial technology as one of the top hard skills you should possess. Therefore, you should not just define what these records are, but provide additional insights as well. What are the top benefits for using this technology? What have you used them for personally?
A sample answer could be: ¨EHR or Electronic Health Records are the computerized version of the classic patient data sheet. The unique aspect of EHR and their main advantage is how easy they can be updated, and they can be accessed by a large number of team members.¨
13. Which tools do you use to help you manage your time, create schedules, and boost your organization?
Knowing how to use technology to your advantage can be extremely beneficial toward your entire team, not just you. And, it is especially useful to mention this during your interview. Note which specific tools you utilize on a consistent basis, and the impact it has had on your productivity, positivity, and time management. Then, translate these positive personal impacts into how this impacts the entire team.
One way you could respond to the question would be: ¨I typically use to-do lists and online schedules to keep myself on task and organized. I write my top goals every day, including long term goals to remind myself of them. In addition, I would rank the tasks I need to accomplish in order of importance. I often make reminders on my cell phone for accomplishing these tasks.¨
14. Suppose a patient has not been seen by a physician yet. What queries do you ask them? What do you input into the patient history logs?
Most medical secretaries are comfortable with speaking to patients after they are seen by a physician. However, they typically struggle with being the first contact a patient has in the hospital. Therefore, you need to understand how to make a great initial connection with patients. Note the specific information you record on their medical history as well, similar as to what a nurse would do.
A sample response is: ¨When a patient has not yet been seen by a doctor, I need to make sure I answer as many of their queries as possible. I will listen to their concerns and try to understand their issues. In addition to this, I will ask them queries regarding their general health. I do not go into specifics unless there is a note to do so for the physician.¨
15. How do you ensure the rest of the medical team is aware of the schedule?
This query analyzes multiple of your traits. For instance, the interviewer will get a sense for your organization, communication, and leadership skills all from one response. Thus, you need to give some clear examples to truly illustrate you have these skills. Give examples of you taking charge and helping others stay informed on the schedule.
One way you could answer is: ¨I ensure that the rest of the medical team is aware of the schedule by having consistent communication with everyone. For example, I help keep the team connected through Slack. I assisted new employees in signing up for our Slack group and added them to a collaborative Google planning session which included the schedule.¨
16. According to HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), what patient information cannot be disclosed? Have you ever witnessed a HIPAA violation? If so, what did you do?
HIPAA is a crucially important piece of legislation to the medical community. As a medical secretary, knowing the inner workings of HIPAA is an absolute must. However, simply knowing of HIPAA is not enough to impress employers. You must actively show ways you protect HIPAA and how you enforce HIPAA standards throughout the rest of the team. Give examples of you doing so.
When answering, you could respond with: ¨HIPAA is used for ensuring the patientś personal health data is kept confidential. The type of information protected under HIPAA includes anything that can be used against the patient by others, such as a history of illness or medication use. I have never seen a HIPAA violation occur, but I would immediately intervene if it happened. I would report the individual who violated HIPAA to the administrators and ensure the patient is aware of the violation.¨
Behavioral interview questions
17. What made you interested in this field? What important issues does the role of a medical secretary solve?
As previously noted, you need to have a strong passion for this career if you want to be successful. Thus, you need to respond with an emotional and person story that can connect back to the question. Note specific topics that interest you in this field.
One potential way you could respond is: ¨The medical secretary job truly spurs a passion in me because I know how hard it is to make patients feel comfortable in the hospital. My mother told me about how essential this role was to the success of the hospital, and I witnessed the immense impact this job has on hospital success firsthand. For instance, secretaries help keep finances in order and boost patient comfort.¨
18. Have you ever had to work along with numerous patients simultaneously? What strategies did you use for prioritization and boosting patient care at the same time?
Once again, your experience can be used to your advantage. Do not worry if you do not have this experience, but utilizing experiences and personal knowledge in this moment could be very meaningful. In addition, giving examples of strong multitasking skills shows you know how to manage your time and work hard at the same time.
A potential response looks like: “I have worked with numerous patients at the same time throughout my career continuously. For example, I have had to work with patients that are in ER and others in Neurocritical Care when I have had night shifts. I ranked the tasks that I needed to accomplish by importance, and this allowed me to achieve as much as possible.”
19. Suppose a patient arrives at the hospital and cannot pay for medical care. What do you do and how do you address this issue?
The most significant issue in medical care is widely regarded as pricing. Individuals seeking medical care often find themselves in dire circumstances solely due to their financial situation. This can very negatively impact them for the rest of their lives. Therefore, as a medical secretary, you need to find ways to overcome these struggles and help patients regardless of what their circumstances are. Tie this question back to your values.
For instance, you could say: “I believe that as a medical secretary, I believe it is my duty to help patients whenever possible. After all, this is the Hippocratic oath. By pursuing the patients’ first mindset, I would help a patient without insurance by connecting them with financial officials in the hospital and put their care first. The way to pay for the care will come second, and I will also inform the patient’s family.”
20. If there is an extremely demanding patient, how would you go about working with them?
As a medical secretary, it is much easier to work with patients that are accepting and welcoming to your help. However, some patients will be difficult to assist. You need to be capable of working with everyone, even those that find it difficult to work with you. Thus, you must have strong examples of you working alongside all individuals, regardless of personality.
A sample response would be: “I have worked with many demanding patients throughout my career. While it was a bit challenging at first, I now realize the key to working with such individuals is to understand why they are so demanding. Once I realize why they are demanding and what they are demanding for, the next step is to address their needs.”
21. How do you assist patients from a broad age range? What would you do to work with individuals who are not proficient in English?
As previously mentioned, you will need to work with a wide variety of different individuals. This includes not just those who are uncooperative, but also thus you are very old, very young, or those who cannot speak English well. You should give any examples of any times you worked with such individuals.
A sample response would be: “To assist patients that are on the extremes of the age range, or those that do not speak English well, I would try to simplify my communication. If they have family near them, I will try to speak to them as well. If we have any translators available, I will use them to assist me in the translation as well.”
22. Do you know any foreign languages? If so, which ones?
Knowing how to speak foreign languages can set you apart as a candidate and help you stand out as well. Regardless of which language you speak you should use your communication skills to your advantage. They can help you more seamlessly communicate to your patients and colleagues alike, thus boosting your odds of acquiring your dream job.
When responding, you could say something along the lines of: “I know how to speak 3 foreign languages. I am fluent in Chinese and conversational in Spanish and French. I have been speaking Chinese for my entire childhood.”
23. What strategies do you use to keep your files organized?
The organization is a key skill for nearly every medical and administrative job. You must highlight these abilities by giving some examples of how you manage to stay organized. This is so since simply stating you have these skills will not be enough to convince the interviewer you have them. Thus, highlight the steps you take to keep your digital and physical files organized.
One way you could respond is: “The organizational strategy I use most often is creating to-do lists as well as using planning sessions consistently. I would start my day creating a to-do list and listing the tasks in order of importance. I also make an effort to keep both my digital files and physical workplace orderly.”
Questions for You to Ask in a Medical Secretary Job Interview
Now that you understand the many different queries you could be asked during your medical secretary interview, you should be feeling more confident about this crucial career step. This is precisely the purpose of preparing for your interview. However, there are some ways to take your career opportunities to the next level. If you think these steps to boost your potential career success are extremely difficult to obtain, but the reality is that some of these steps are simple and extremely worthwhile. One of these strategies is asking the interviewer your own questions. This shows your curiosity and passion as a candidate. There are many questions you could ask the interviewer, but here are some ideas:
- When would you like to hire your next medical secretary?
- Who will be my boss? Who do I report to?
- Do you train your newly hired medical secretaries?
- What is your strategy for evaluating medical secretary performance? How often do you perform these evaluations?
- Could you tell me about the management style your leaders have?
- What skills does the ideal medical secretary possess, in your eyes?
How To Prepare for Medical Secretary Job Interview
It is undoubtedly true that medical secretary interviews are stressful. Even though hard work and preparation, some of the stress will remain. Truthfully, there are benefits to this stress, such as helping you stay focused and disciplined before the interview. However, the best way to reduce your stress and boost positive interview outcomes is through preparation. Everyone uses a slightly different strategy for preparation, but there are some good techniques you should keep in mind.
For instance, one of the top strategies you should use is looking through the common medical secretary interview questions. This article helps you do just that, as it includes quite a few of these questions. However, just reading the questions is not enough to succeed. Instead, you should create an outline for your answers for each of the questions.
In addition to this, another commonly used and successful preparation strategy includes reading through the company’s website. Learn as much as you can about the company you want to get a job at. Know their common patients, what type of individuals visit the hospital, and other similar facts. You should also read the job description with a keen eye and get as much information as you can from former as well as current company employees.
While the previously described methods are certainly extremely useful in helping you achieve your career goals, there are other approaches you could take as well. One of these fantastic approaches is known as the STAR technique. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The STAR method is most commonly used for narratives, or questions which ask you about personal experiences. When thinking of the S or situation, both the setting of the narrative – who you were with, where you were, and so on. The T is the Task, or what you needed to do in the narrative. A is for action, the steps you took to combat the issue at hand. And finally, the R is for the result – the outcome of your actions.
What are the main duties of a medical secretary?
The medical secretary serves many roles in a medical institution. On a day-to-day basis, they will need to communicate with many departments within the hospital. In addition, the medical secretary also assists with coordinating where patients go.
They contribute to keeping the finances of the institution up to date. Other crucially important roles of a medical secretary include greeting patients and checking them in, managing health records, coordinating referrals, and more.
What are the 4 basic skills that a good secretary must possess?
Good medical secretaries need to maintain a significant and diverse number of skills in order to succeed in their careers. However, there are some skills that are more important than others. One of the top skills medical secretaries need to have is a great organization, as this helps with boosting productivity and positivity.
In addition to this, great medical secretaries are great at communicating with others, thus building strong bonds with those around them. Finally, other important skills to have as a medical secretary are problem-solving and interpersonal skills.