17 HIM Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a HIM specialist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

The healthcare industry is one of the few that is growing despite the current economic conditions. With an aging population and advances in medical care, the demand for healthcare services is only going to continue to increase. That’s good news if you’re looking for a job in healthcare, but it also means you’ll be up against stiff competition for any position you apply for.

One way to increase your chances of getting hired is to be prepared for your job interview. And that means more than just knowing your resume inside and out. You also need to be ready to answer questions about your skills, experience, and education.

To help you prepare, we’ve put together a list of sample HIM specialist interview questions and answers.

Common HIM Specialist Interview Questions

Are you familiar with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act?

This question is a basic test of your knowledge about the healthcare industry. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH Act, was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009. It’s an important piece of legislation that has helped to advance the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in the United States.

Example: “Yes, I am familiar with the HITECH Act. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why I decided to pursue a career as a HIM specialist. Prior to the passage of this act, many hospitals were still using paper-based systems. This made it difficult to share patient information between facilities. With the implementation of EHRs, we can now easily access patients’ medical histories from anywhere.”

What are some of the most important qualities for a successful HIM Specialist?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills and abilities to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your own personal qualities that make you successful along with some of the most important qualities for this job.

Example: “I believe one of the most important qualities for a successful HIM Specialist is attention to detail. This role requires me to work with sensitive patient information, so I am always sure to double-check my work before sending it out. Another quality I think is essential for this position is communication. As a HIM Specialist, I often need to communicate with other healthcare professionals about patients’ records. It’s important to me that I’m able to clearly explain what I’m looking for or asking.”

How would you go about organizing and retrieving patient records for a patient who has been admitted to the emergency room?

This question can help the interviewer assess your organizational skills and ability to prioritize tasks. Use examples from previous experience in how you would organize patient records, including any software or applications you may have used to keep track of important information.

Example: “I would first make sure that I had all of the necessary paperwork for the patient, such as their medical history, insurance information and emergency contact details. Then, I would use a secure cloud storage system to upload these documents so they are accessible by other members of the healthcare team. Finally, I would place the physical copies of the documents into a folder with the patient’s name on it so I could easily find them later.”

What is your experience with using medical terminology?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your experience with using medical terminology and how you apply it in your work. Use examples from previous experiences where you used medical terminology correctly, or explain what steps you would take to learn the correct terms if you’re not familiar with them.

Example: “In my last role as a HIM specialist, I was responsible for creating reports that included patient information such as their diagnosis, treatment plan and test results. To ensure I understood all of the medical terminology, I researched each term before entering it into the report so I could enter it accurately. This helped me avoid any mistakes when entering data.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to use your critical thinking skills to solve a problem related to patient records.

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities. Use examples from previous work experiences that highlight your ability to analyze information, make decisions and implement solutions.

Example: “In my last role as an HIM specialist, I had to review patient records for a hospital where the medical staff was experiencing issues with their electronic health record system. The system would randomly delete files, which caused problems for doctors who were trying to access important documents while treating patients. After reviewing the issue, I determined that the problem stemmed from the software update. We needed to replace the entire system before we could continue using it.”

If a patient is unable to provide their medical history, what methods would you use to gather this information?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to work with patients who have limited access to their medical history. Use examples from previous experience in which you were able to gather information about a patient’s medical history despite the challenges of doing so.

Example: “If a patient is unable to provide me with their medical history, I would first try to get as much information as possible from family members or friends. If they are unavailable, I would use any available resources such as online databases and public records to find out more about the patient’s medical history. In one instance, I was working with a patient who had no family members available to help us obtain their medical history. However, we were able to locate an old medical record that provided us with all the information we needed.”

What would you do if you noticed a discrepancy in a patient’s medical records?

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your attention to detail and ability to resolve issues. Your answer should include steps for identifying the discrepancy, resolving it and documenting the process.

Example: “If I noticed a discrepancy in a patient’s medical records, I would first verify that the information was correct at the time of entry into the system. If the information was accurate when entered, I would contact the physician who recorded the information to confirm whether or not the information is still valid. If the information is no longer valid, I would update the record with the new information. If the information is still valid, I would document the reason why the information has not changed.”

How well do you understand the HIPAA laws and their implications for the healthcare industry?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of an individual’s medical records. The HIPAA Privacy Rule regulates how healthcare providers store, use and disclose protected health information (PHI). An interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the HIPAA laws and their implications for the industry. In your answer, try to show that you understand the importance of protecting PHI and can apply it in your work as a HIM specialist.

Example: “I have worked with confidential patient data since I started my career as a HIM specialist. As such, I am well aware of the importance of maintaining confidentiality when handling PHI. For instance, I always ensure that all documents containing PHI are stored securely in locked cabinets or drawers. I also make sure that only authorized individuals have access to these files.

In addition, I know that there are certain situations where we cannot keep PHI private. For example, if a patient asks us to release his or her information to someone else, we must do so unless they specify otherwise. Similarly, we must share PHI with other healthcare providers who need it to provide care to our patients.”

Do you have experience using medical software and databases? Which ones and why are they important?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience with medical software and databases. This can help them determine if you have the necessary skills for the role, as well as how much training you might need. In your answer, try to explain why these programs are important in a healthcare setting.

Example: “I’ve used several different types of medical software and databases throughout my career. I find that they’re essential tools for organizing patient information and ensuring it’s accessible by all members of the care team. For example, when I worked at St. Mary’s Hospital, we used an electronic health record system that allowed us to access patients’ records from anywhere in the hospital. We could also use it to communicate with other doctors who were treating the same patient.”

When working with a team of healthcare professionals, how do you make sure everyone’s responsibilities are clearly defined?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your leadership skills and ability to work with others. Your answer should show that you can communicate effectively, delegate tasks and ensure everyone on the team understands their responsibilities.

Example: “I make sure I understand all of my own duties before meeting with my team members so I can clearly explain what each person’s role is in the department. This helps me avoid any confusion about who does what or when they are expected to do it. I also encourage open communication among my team members so we can discuss any questions or concerns we have about our roles.”

We want to improve our patient satisfaction scores. What is one strategy you would use to improve communication between patients and medical professionals?

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your communication skills and how well you can work with a team. To answer, think of a time when you helped improve patient satisfaction scores in the past.

Example: “I would encourage medical professionals to use empathetic language when speaking with patients. For example, if I were talking to a patient who was upset about their diagnosis, I would explain my reasoning for why they need treatment and reassure them that we will do everything we can to help them feel better. This strategy has worked well for me in the past because it helps patients understand our intentions and feel more comfortable.”

Describe your experience working with confidential information and patient records.

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your experience with handling confidential information and patient records. This is because healthcare organizations often handle sensitive data, so it’s important that their employees are trustworthy. In your answer, try to show the interviewer that you understand the importance of confidentiality and can keep a secret.

Example: “I have worked in healthcare for five years now, and I’ve always been very aware of how important it is to protect patients’ privacy. When working with confidential information, I make sure to store it securely and only access it when necessary. I also never share any information unless my supervisor instructs me to do so. I take great care to ensure that all documents are shredded before disposal.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their team. When answering, it’s important to highlight a skill or experience that makes you unique from other candidates. You may also want to mention something that is relevant to the job description.

Example: “I have five years of experience as an HR specialist, which has given me valuable insight into what employees need in order to be successful at work. I am also certified in several areas of human resources, including employee relations and diversity training. These certifications show that I am committed to my career and improving my skills.”

Which medical software programs have you used in the past and what were your experiences like?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience with medical software programs. This can help them determine if you have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform well in their role. When answering, list the specific software programs you’ve used before and describe what you liked or disliked about each one.

Example: “I’ve worked with several different medical software programs throughout my career. I started out using a program called Meditech, which was very helpful for organizing patient information but had some issues when it came to sharing data with other systems. Then I switched to Epic, which is much easier to use and has many useful features. However, I do miss being able to share data with other systems.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of a patient’s medical history?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the importance of medical history and how you use it in your work. Your answer should demonstrate that you understand the value of a patient’s medical history, as well as how to access and interpret it.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of a patient’s medical history is their current diagnosis. This information helps me determine what treatment options are available for them and whether they have any allergies or other conditions that might affect their care. I also find it helpful to know about previous treatments patients have received so I can compare them to new ones and see if there are any patterns or similarities between them.”

How often should patient records be updated?

This question can help the interviewer evaluate your knowledge of record keeping and compliance standards. Your answer should include a specific time frame for updating records, such as monthly or quarterly, along with an explanation of why you chose that timeframe.

Example: “I recommend updating patient records at least once per month to ensure all information is current. This allows me to update any changes in medications, allergies or other important details about the patient’s health. I also check for updates on lab results and diagnostic imaging reports each month so I have access to this information when working with patients.”

There is a new disease that affects many of our patients. What is your process for researching and understanding this disease?

This question can help interviewers understand how you approach new challenges and the steps you take to learn about them. Use your answer to highlight your research skills, critical thinking abilities and ability to collaborate with others.

Example: “I would first look at any information my colleagues have on this disease. I would then search for reputable medical journals that discuss the disease. If there are no articles available, I would contact other healthcare professionals who work in similar areas of medicine to see if they know anything about it. Finally, I would reach out to patients who may be experiencing symptoms or family members of those who have died from the disease.”


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