Interviewing health executives and senior managers is never about assessing competencies or evaluating skills. That’s done earlier in the recruiting process, particularly if you’ve engaged a capable executive search firm.

As a leader, charged with the responsibility of selecting an executive or senior manager for your organisation your job is to dig deeply at interview. To get beyond the savvy, experienced persona of the executive before you to find out if the fit is real for you, your organisation and the executive.

Asking technical and behavioral questions about the job selection criteria could be one way to go, but you’ve got to know that the smart executive has that covered. If you really want to know who the person is, what makes them tick, then here are my picks for health executives/senior managers:

  1. What specifically have you delivered in outcome terms for the organisation and its clients in the last 2 roles you have held?
  2. What are you most proud of as a leader and why?
  3. What do you stand for as a leader?
  4. What is the biggest people issue you have had to manage and why?
  5. Tell us why you think you are ready for this role
  6. Give a specific example of the tension between competing demands – political, organisational, clients, technology and how have you handled it in last role?
  7. Who do you consider to be your clients and why?
  8. How do you integrate digital with care and get an ROI?
  9. What does an integrated system look like and where are the potential hot spots and risks?
  10. The Quality and Safety movement talks about ceding power to the patient. How might that work in practice so that the clinician and the patient contribute optimally to care decisions
  11. What does the Patient Experience mean to you?
  12. How would you separate the strategic and the operational in this role?
  13. What are your credentials for this role?
  14. What do you think of the statement “Executives should be selected on character. You can teach skills not character”?
  15. How have you managed the tension between financial pressure, service delivery demands, the patient experience/quality and safety?
  16. What are the issues in digitalizing the system?
  17. How do you engage clinicians and patients?
  18. How do prepare your successor?
  19. How do you consider downstream consequences of your decisions?
  20. What does “organisational context” mean to you?
  21. Worst decision you have made?
  22. Do you manage for clients or targets?

There are 2 parties in this process. Candidates can learn from some of these questions – if only to think about your personal view.

Getting fit right always cuts both ways.