17 Medical Coder Interview Questions and Answers

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

Medical coders are responsible for translating patient information into medical codes. These codes are used to track patient care, bill insurance companies, and conduct research. The job of a medical coder is important, and it can be challenging. That’s why medical coder interview questions are designed to assess whether you have the skills and knowledge required for the job.

In this guide, you’ll find several medical coder interview questions and answers. We’ll help you prepare for questions about your experience, your knowledge of medical codes, and your ability to work under pressure.

Are you certified as a medical coder?

Employers may ask this question to see if you have the necessary certification for the job. If you are not certified, they may want to know what steps you plan on taking to get your certification. You can answer honestly about whether or not you’re certified and explain why you aren’t.

Example: “I am not currently certified as a medical coder. I do plan on getting my certification in the next six months, however. I’ve been researching different certifications and will be enrolling in an online course that is accredited by the American Health Information Management Association.”

What are the most common medical coding certifications?

Employers may ask this question to see if you have the necessary certifications for their job opening. They want to know that you are qualified and can perform the job duties without much training. In your answer, list the most common medical coding certifications and explain what they entail.

Example: “The two most common certifications in the field of medical coding are Certified Professional Coder and Registered Health Information Technician. To become a Certified Professional Coder, I would need to complete an accredited program and pass a certification exam. This certification is valid for three years before I would need to renew it. The Registered Health Information Technician certification requires me to complete an approved education program and pass a certification exam. This certification is also good for three years.”

How would you describe the relationship between a medical coder and a physician?

This question is an opportunity to show your understanding of the medical coding process and how it relates to other professionals in the healthcare industry. Your answer should demonstrate that you understand the importance of working with physicians, nurses and other coders to ensure accurate billing for patients.

Example: “I believe a coder’s relationship with a physician is very important because they are the ones who know what procedures were performed on a patient and why. Coders can ask questions about a procedure or diagnosis if we’re unsure of how to code it, but ultimately, we need to trust their judgment when assigning codes. This ensures that our work accurately reflects the services provided to patients.”

What is the most challenging part of being a medical coder?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your experience as a medical coder. It also helps them determine if you are ready for the job and whether or not you have what it takes to succeed in this role. When answering this question, be honest about the challenges you face but emphasize how you overcome these challenges.

Example: “The most challenging part of being a medical coder is when I am working with new doctors who do not use coding standards that I am familiar with. This means that I need to spend more time researching their coding methods so that I can accurately code their patient records. However, I find that by asking questions and doing my research, I can usually figure out the doctor’s coding style.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to stand your ground in order to get a correct code for a patient.

This question can help the interviewer determine how you handle conflict and whether you’re willing to challenge your colleagues. Use examples from previous jobs where you had to stand up for yourself or a patient, but make sure they highlight your problem-solving skills rather than simply describing an incident.

Example: “In my last position as a medical coder, I was working with a team of coders who were all new to coding. One day, one of them insisted that we code a patient’s condition as ‘unspecified’ because he didn’t know what else to do. I explained to him that this wasn’t a valid code and that there are many other codes that could be used instead. He eventually understood why it was important to use specific codes.”

If a physician disagrees with your code for a patient, how would you handle the situation?

This question can help an interviewer determine how you handle conflict and whether you have the ability to resolve it. When answering, try to show that you are willing to work with physicians to find a solution that benefits both parties.

Example: “If I disagreed with a physician’s coding for a patient, I would first ask them why they chose their code. If there is a valid reason behind their decision, I would accept their choice and move on. However, if I feel like their code does not accurately reflect the patient’s condition, I would explain my reasoning and offer alternative codes that I think better represent the patient’s care.”

What would you do if you noticed a mistake in a previous medical coding entry?

This question can help interviewers understand how you respond to errors and challenges in your work. Your answer should show that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions, learn from mistakes and correct them as soon as possible.

Example: “If I noticed a mistake in my coding entry, I would first try to remember what the original code was supposed to be. Then, I would recode the entire document with the correct information. If it’s an urgent situation, I would ask my supervisor or manager if they could provide me with the correct information so I can complete the task immediately. In all cases, I would make sure to note the error on my record so I can reflect on my performance later.”

How well do you handle stress while completing a large volume of medical coding work?

Medical coding is a fast-paced job that requires you to complete a large volume of work in a short period of time. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the ability to handle stress and stay focused while working quickly. Before your interview, think about how you’ve handled stressful situations in the past. Think about what helped you remain calm and productive during those times.

Example: “In my previous role as a medical coder, I often had to complete a large amount of work within a short period of time. While it was challenging at first, I eventually learned some strategies for staying organized and completing my work efficiently. For example, I would create a list of all the tasks I needed to complete and prioritize them based on urgency. This allowed me to focus on the most important tasks first so I could get them out of the way. It also helped me feel less stressed because I knew I was getting closer to finishing.”

Do you have any experience working with insurance companies to resolve billing disputes?

Medical coding is a highly regulated industry, and employers want to make sure you have experience working with insurance companies. This question helps them understand your level of comfort in this type of situation. If you do not have any experience, consider talking about how you would approach the situation if it arose.

Example: “I’ve never had to work directly with an insurance company on billing disputes, but I am familiar with the process. In my previous role as a medical coder, I worked closely with our compliance team to ensure we were following all HIPAA regulations. As part of that process, I learned how to navigate the system for resolving billing disputes.”

When a patient has multiple diagnoses, how do you decide which code to use?

This question can help an interviewer understand how you prioritize your work and make decisions. Use examples from past experiences to show that you consider the patient’s overall diagnosis, as well as the specific codes for each diagnosis.

Example: “When a patient has multiple diagnoses, I first look at their primary diagnosis code. If this is something like ‘heart disease,’ then I’ll use the corresponding code for that diagnosis. For example, if they have heart disease, I would use ICD-10 code I20.9 for heart disease. Then, I’d look at any secondary or additional diagnoses and use the appropriate code for those.”

We want to improve our compliance with the ICD-10 code system. How would you encourage physicians to use the correct code for a diagnosis?

The interviewer may ask you this question to assess your ability to work with physicians and other medical professionals. Use examples from previous experience in which you helped a physician or other healthcare professional use the correct code for a diagnosis.

Example: “I would first explain why it’s important to use the right code, such as how it affects their reimbursement rates. Then I would show them how easy it is to find the right code using our coding software. In my last role, I worked with several physicians who were unfamiliar with the ICD-10 system. I showed them how to use the software to search for codes and they found it much easier than looking through the entire list of codes.”

Describe your process for handling confidential patient information.

Medical coding requires you to handle sensitive information, so employers ask this question to make sure you have the proper training and experience handling confidential data. In your answer, explain how you ensure patient privacy when working with medical records.

Example: “I always use a secure computer program for coding. I also keep my workstation locked at all times, even if I’m just taking a short break. When I leave for the day, I log out of the system and lock my workstation before leaving it unattended. If I need to take any files or documents home with me, I shred them once I am back in the office.”

What makes you stand out from other medical coders?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your background and experience as a medical coder. They want to know what makes you unique from other candidates applying for the same position. Use your answer to highlight any skills or experiences that make you an ideal candidate for the job.

Example: “I have been coding for over five years, so I am very familiar with the latest coding standards. In my previous role, I was responsible for training new coders on how to use our coding software. This helped me develop my teaching skills and become comfortable explaining complex concepts to others. I also have extensive knowledge of medical terminology, which helps me understand patient records quickly.”

Which coding software programs have you used in the past?

This question can help the interviewer determine your experience level with coding software. If you have no prior experience, you can talk about what you know about coding software and how it works. You can also mention any other medical-related software programs that you’ve used in the past to show your interest in this field.

Example: “I’ve worked as a freelance medical coder for five years now, so I’m very familiar with most of the coding software programs out there. My favorite is Medisoft because it’s easy to use and has all of the features I need to do my job well. I also like that it’s compatible with many different types of computers, which makes it easier to work from home or on-the-go.”

What do you think the future of medical coding holds?

This question can help an interviewer get a sense of your knowledge about the medical coding industry and how you might fit into it. Use this opportunity to share any thoughts or ideas you have on what you think will be important in the future of coding, including new technologies that may impact coding practices.

Example: “I believe there is going to be more focus on quality coding rather than quantity as we move forward. With the push for electronic health records, I think coding professionals are going to need to ensure they’re using best practices when entering data so that patient information is accurate and easy to find. This means ensuring all codes are correct before submitting them and double-checking accuracy after submission.”

How often do you recommend physicians see their patients for follow-up visits?

This question can help interviewers understand your knowledge of medical coding and billing. It also helps them determine how you might interact with physicians in the workplace. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention a specific situation where you recommended follow-up visits for patients.

Example: “I recommend that physicians see their patients for follow-up visits when they have questions about their treatment or if there are any changes in their health. I think it’s important for doctors to stay updated on their patient’s progress so they can provide the best care possible. In my last role as a medical coder, I noticed that one physician only saw his patients once after initial diagnosis. I suggested he schedule more appointments to ensure all of his patients were receiving proper care.”

There is a new disease that affects a large portion of the population. How would you start coding for it?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of coding and how you would approach the process. It also shows that the interviewer wants to know if you can work independently or with others in a team setting.

Example: “I would first research the disease, including its symptoms and causes. Then I would look at what codes are already available for similar diseases and apply them to this new one. If there aren’t any existing codes, then I would create my own code based on the information I gathered from my research.”


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