Best Interview Questions to Understand a Provider’s Soft Skills

Rebecca Hayward

Having strong soft skills in healthcare are crucial to care delivery. Soft skills are the personal characteristics healthcare workers exhibit that allows them to interact effectively with coworkers and the patients they serve. While these soft skills are sometimes overlooked in favor of critical clinical or job-related skills, they play a huge role in patient satisfaction, team collaboration, and even healthcare reimbursement.

Let’s look at some of the most critical soft skills to screen for in healthcare today and the right questions to ask during the interview process.


Healthcare is constantly changing; from the patients we see to technology to reimbursement. That’s why the soft skill of going with the flow is so important. Healthcare providers must adapt to rapidly changing conditions on the floor, whether in the ER or a small medical practice.

Screening for adaptability can take the form of a few well-crafted behavioral questions, such as:

  • Tell me about a time when a coworker or patient was unhappy with the way you performed and how changed your behavior to overcome their perception?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt a lot of pressure. What was happening, and how did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before.  How did you react?  What did you learn?

Time Management

Nurses, doctors, and other clinical staffers typically juggle many tasks throughout the day. Having time management skills is crucial to performing the myriad duties required no matter what the healthcare job may be. Prioritizing competing demands while executing multiple tasks is a skill that almost everyone needs, but it is particularly important in the healthcare field.

Time management in healthcare also requires frequent reprioritization of tasks when a patient has an issue, or a last minute-scheduling adjustment is needed. To screen for time management skills, try the following interview questions:

  • Give an example of a time when you had competing tasks and walk us through how you prioritized the workload. What barriers did you face for getting everything done?
  • Tell me about a time when you had a very demanding patient but a million other tasks to accomplish. How did you manage this very time-consuming patient and all the other tasks you needed to get done?
  • Have you ever been overwhelmed with simultaneous tasks? Were you able to get everything done? How did you or didn’t you get a handle on things?


It’s hard to work as a team if people aren’t communicating well.  Communication skills are absolutely essential as a provider of care.  It’s so important that it can save lives or cause irreparable harm. Communication enables collaboration between disparate healthcare teams. If communication fails, the least of your worries is that patient satisfaction scores (and reimbursement) will decline.

Screening for communication skills should happen throughout the interview process. Pay close attention to how the candidate communicates on every question you ask.  To screen for communication skills and style, try the following questions:

  • How do you prefer to build rapport with others?
  • How would you go about simplifying a complex issue in order to explain it to a patient?
  • How would you go about persuading your colleague to see things your way at work?

MedSource has a team of healthcare recruiters who are very skilled at screening for both technical aptitude and soft skills. We can supplement your hiring team by finding the best healthcare talent in the industry. Contact our healthcare recruiting experts for more information.