Many different careers in care, like for instance a career as a nurse or a healthcare assistant, come together under the banner of the allied health professions (AHPs), with very different qualifications and types of professional expertise relevant to each one, but when it comes to interviews, allied health jobs have a lot in common. This guide is designed to make it easier for first time applicants or those who have struggled at interviews before to make a good impression.

Interview tips.

Just as important as looking smart is having the smarts to reread the job description before arrival, together with the initial application and background information about the company.

The ideal interview candidate knows the hiring organisation inside out and can also demonstrate familiarity with current affairs in the wider field, so it’s worth reading through trade journals and watching the news before arrival.

Good personal engagement is vital because this is one of the most important skills that will be tested in the job itself. Questions are often designed to draw this out, for instance, by focusing on communication styles and how the candidate might deal with a reluctant or aggressive client.

AHP candidates will need to provide examples of their ability to work independently and to manage busy caseloads. Questions in this area will often focus on how they might cope when things go wrong. In this case the important thing is to acknowledge the potential for difficulties and to show awareness of the different ways that help might be found. Similarly, questions that present ethical dilemmas should be answered with a focus on showing understanding of the issues, not simply on coming up with solutions that may not exist.

Allied health jobs interview questions.

Depending on the role, an AHP interview may also include questions about teamwork or team leadership. Here it is important to show awareness of the different kinds of responsibilities involved.

What previous experience do you have in AHP roles?

A CV can tell an interviewer a lot about a candidate, but the interview is a chance to fill in some blanks and add some personal flavour.  A question such as this is an opportunity to expand on the details in the CV by mentioning some experiences to do with allied health professional jobs that might not be listed there.  Be positive about previous employers and highlight any related achievements.

How do you usually approach organising your caseload?

Before the interview, a candidate should take some time to consider their own personal skills and qualities in relation to the allied health professional role in question.  A question like this then presents the opportunity to describe, in practical terms, how a quality such as personal organisation is put to good use in a professional context.

What would you do if you thought a senior professional had made an error?

Context-specific questions are important for interviewers, because they can help to discover how a health professional might react in certain situations.  Ethical questions such as this one also touch on a number of personal skills and traits, such as effective communication and problem solving.  Answer the question in practical terms, maintaining a positive approach throughout.

How would you communicate with a client who was confused about your presence?

Communication skills are essential in allied health professions.  This question gives a candidate a chance, first, to describe in a practical way how good their communication skills are; and second, to give examples of how effective communication has been used in similar circumstances in previous job roles.

How do you approach coordinating your work with that of others?

Although this is a general question about interpersonal skills, it is also a good opportunity to highlight some previous achievements in teamwork.  If the interviewer hears about achievements in the past, this is a good guide as to how the candidate might perform in the future.

General interview questions.

What do you see as your main strengths and weaknesses?

Interviewers will expect that candidates will have given some thought to this question in advance, as it is a fairly standard interview topic.  An answer should therefore be prepared in advance, based on the strengths required in the job description.  Do not skip the part of the question about weaknesses, but seek to use this to demonstrate a strength such as overcoming a difficulty.

How would you describe yourself as a professional?

The modern CV often includes a brief description of the candidate as a person and as a professional.  This is an opportunity to highlight, once more, the most positive aspects in the light of the job description.  Allied health professions are often practice-oriented, and so practical aspects should be emphasised first.

How do you keep up with the latest thinking in your field?

Part of the preparation for an interview may include attending a seminar or subscribing to a journal, if you have not already done these recently.  Use this opportunity to describe what you have done and, essentially, what you have learned about current ideas in health care.

Why does this particular position appeal to you?

So using knowledge of the job description, a candidate can use a question such as this to highlight how their own personal skillset matches the requirements of the position.  Integrity and enthusiasm are also important in answering a question like this.