CCareer opportunities in the field of health informatics are on the rise. A study from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society released in February, 2017 revealed that employers are struggling to fill health IT departments with qualified professionals. According to the report, 61 percent of vendors/consultants and 43 percent of providers currently have open positions and the majority of these groups are increasing their health IT budget this year. Additionally, 61 percent of vendors/consultants and 42 percent of providers surveyed increased their number of health IT employees over the last year and most plan to maintain or increase their staff in the next 12 months.
“Health IT continues to be a bright spot in the U.S. economy,” Lorren Pettit, HIMSS vice president of health information systems and research said in the press release. “Health IT workers continue to see strong demand for their skills, as employers across the provider and vendor/consultant spectrum embrace various health IT strategic initiatives.”
Whether you are a recent Master of Science in Health Informatics graduate or simply looking to take the next step in your health informatics career, you may find yourself dreading a very important challenge that stands in the way of you and your dream position: the job interview. Though they carry high stakes, job interviews do not need to be something you dread. These opportunities are the perfect time to elaborate on the reasons you are a good fit for your desired position and often give you face time with the decision makers in the company.
Follow these six suggestions to represent yourself well during your next health informatics job interview.
1. Do your research
You probably did some research before sending in your application, but now that you have an interview, that preliminary work is not enough. In an article for Forbes, Jon Youshaei, head of creative product marketing at YouTube, recommended gaining a thorough knowledge of the company you are interviewing with by checking out not just blog posts, but earnings calls and quarterly reports. By gathering as much information as you can in advance, you will be able to give more specific answers when the interviewer asks questions about challenges the company is facing or specific areas of the position.
To make a good impression, you need to learn everything you can before the interview – not just about the company, but about the role and the person who is interviewing you, if possible.
2. Think through your strengths and weaknesses
It would be impossible to predict every question that an interviewer will ask, it is pretty safe to assume that many of them will focus on two important areas: your strengths and weaknesses. Even if you are not asked the age old “What is your greatest weakness?” query, you will likely hear something along those lines. Consequently, it is important to spend some time thinking through these topics before an interview. You won’t have time for introspection during your interview, so familiarize yourself with the points you want to touch on in advance.
In addition to your strengths and weaknesses, you should also review your own professional and academic history and how it relates to the job.
“Do the self-assessment of your career past, present, and future. This is so often overlooked,” wrote Caren Merrick,an entrepreneur and board member of multiple companies. “Ask yourself how this opportunity aligns with your aspirations, strengths, and short and long term goals. Leaders begin by understanding themselves first.”
Make sure you have specific examples of how your qualifications will help you to succeed in this new role. These kinds of details tend to be more effective than more general answers that are not tailored to the specific position.
3. Make a good first impression
When the day finally arrives, you cannot underestimate the importance of a good first impression. Be sure to:
Arrive early. There may be no faster way to start off on the wrong foot than to show up late to your interview. Give yourself plenty of time travel to your destination, especially if you have never been there before. It is better to arrive half an hour early and wait outside the building than to run in the door breathless at or after your scheduled interview time.
Look professional. Even if you are trying to land a position somewhere that you can wear jeans on the job, dress professionally for your interview. Make sure your clothes fit well and your hair is neat. Dressing nicely communicates that you care.
Exude confidence. You may be nervous – and that is okay. But you need to fake it until you make it in a job interview. Make sure that you are ready with a big smile and a firm handshake.
Be engaged. Even if your interviewer is talking about something that does not interest you, stay engaged in the conversation. Lean forward slightly while you listen and try not to fidget. Becoming distracted will communicate a lack of interest in the position, something you certainly want to avoid if you hope to get the job.
4. Tell a story
Your answers should be succinct; try to tell a story when possible. Conveying necessary information is important, but stories are what stick with people. Instead of simply saying you supervised a team at your last workplace, give an example of a specific project and how your management style helped accomplish the group’s objective. Your interviewer is more likely to remember the anecdote later in the day, as well as the qualifications that went along with it.
Before the interview, Youshaei (Forbes) recommended crafting what he calls a “story statement,” an abbreviated version of your autobiography that shows you are a person, not just a list of qualifications on a page. It should include some sort of anecdote about why you got into health informatics in the first place, whether it is two sentences about your childhood love of data or the moment in college when you saw how numbers could influence health care. By preparing this pitch, you will be ready with more than just a summary of your resume when the interviewer asks some version of the “tell me about yourself” question.
5. Ask good questions
Your interview should be a two-way street. Yes, the conversation is a chance for the company to see if you are qualified for a particular position. But it is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the workplace and position to determine if they are a good fit for you. Though you should prepare questions in advance, try to create a few during your interview based on what has been discussed. Asking the interviewer to elaborate on these topics shows that you have been listening and are engaged in the conversation.
6. Be up-to-date
To distinguish yourself in an interview for a health informatics position, make sure you are up-to-date with the latest developments and best practices in the field. Listen to podcasts, subscribe to industry publications and read the blogs of industry thought leaders. Create Google Alerts for topics that you are particularly interested in and companies for which you would like to work. This information can help supplement your existing knowledge of the field, giving you plenty of talking points for your interview. The more specific you can be about the challenges facing the health informatics industry and the organization that you are interviewing with, the better impression you will likely create.
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