Best Practices: Behavioral-Based Questions for Peer Interviewing (Part 1)

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post continues our series of patient experience best practices. Every week we share information that demonstrates our expansive understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare organizations and the solutions we have identified for improving the patient experience and patient and business outcomes.

Even if you know the skill-based questions you’re going to ask a prospective employee, what about questions to determine if the candidate is right for your organization’s culture? How can you find out how an individual reacts in a stressful situation? What are his or her work ethics? What motivates this person? How has the individual creatively solved problems? Is the candidate team-oriented?

This is where behavioral-based questioning is valuable. Before the interview takes place, compile a list of potential queries, which will determine the compatibility of the candidate with the organization’s values and Standards of Performance. Then, establish who on the team will ask which questions.

Behavioral-based questions help determine:

  • Performance obstacles
  • Self-motivation characteristics
  • Coping skills
  • Interaction willingness
  • Adaptability to your culture
  • Communication skills
  • Motivation
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Team-player personality

Sample Interview Questions – Behavioral-Based

You should compile your own personalized, behavioral-based questions, incorporating your organization’s Standards of Performance. The following is merely a sampling of the kinds of queries by subject matter that you might want to consider as you draft that list:

Words that Work

What would your response be if we asked you to answer your phone every time by saying exactly, “This is Mary, how may I help you;” and similarly if we asked you to say, “Is there anything else I can do for you; I have the time,” every time you were about to leave a customer or patient? What do you see as the benefits of these keywords, and/or what might be the barriers?

Likelihood of Retention

  • We invest time, money, and training in our employees and like to reap the benefits of developing and maintaining a long-term relationship. Have you been a long-term employee with other companies? If not, why not?
  • Do you foresee any obstacles to having a long-term relationship here?
  • If hired right now, what goal would you have with the company in one year? Are there any reasons why you would not be able to be here for one year?
  • Why did you leave your last few jobs?


  • Tell me about an important goal that you have set in the past and what you did to accomplish it.
  • What motivates you the most?

 Communication/Interaction Skills

  • Describe a time when you realized you needed to make an improvement in your communication skills. How did you manage it?
  • What experience have you had concerning miscommunication with a customer or fellow employee, and how did you solve the problem?
  • Describe the most significant written document, report, or presentation you have had to complete. What was the response from the employer?
  • Think of a problem customer that you had to deal with on your last job. Tell me what happened and how you handled it.
  • Have you heard the expression, “Roll with the punches?” Describe a situation in the past where you had to do that in working with a difficult person.
  • You are on the phone with another department resolving a problem. The intercom pages you for a customer who is holding. Your manager returns your monthly report with red pen markings and demands corrections within the hour. What do you do?

Supervisory Leadership

  • Tell me about a leadership role you filled in the past. Describe the key leadership skills that you believe you have, and explain how you have demonstrated them.
  • What has been your experience in supervising a diverse group of employees with varied backgrounds and skills, and what did you do to ensure the best fit of employees for each job?
  • What has been your experience in dealing with poor employee performance? Give me an example.
  • Give me an example of a time when you came up with a clever way to motivate your employees.
  • Describe a circumstance in which you recommended the dismissal of a worker who had proven he/she could not handle the job. What procedure did you follow?

About the Best Practice Series

We are pleased to share the best practices developed by our expert coaches from the HealthStream Engagement Institute. This series of how-to publications offers proven techniques, key words and phrases, and processes to help you transform your culture to one of high performance.

Our Best Practices Series, based on employee-developed and employee-managed practices and programs, includes the following:

  • Hourly Rounding
  • Reward and Recognition
  • Peer Interviewing
  • Bright Ideas™
  • Purposeful Rounding
  • Words that WorkSM
  • Service Recovery
  • Standards of Performance

Our goal for this collection is to offer you even more tools to achieve extraordinary service and higher levels of performance excellence.

At HealthStream we spend a lot of time focused on developing the nursing workforce. HealthStream’s jane™ is The World’s First Digital Mentor for Nurses. Jane harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create a system that personalizes competency development at scale, quickly identifies risk and opportunity, and improves quality outcomes by focusing on critical thinking. Leveraging decades of research and with over 4 million assessments completed, Jane was designed to power lifelong, professional growth of clinical professionals. Jane™ is an important component of HealthStream’s suite of clinical development solutions.

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