17 Public Health Manager Interview Questions and Answers

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

Public health managers plan, direct, and coordinate the public health activities and services of a hospital, clinic, public health agency, or private organization. They develop policies and procedures to ensure that the organization they work for meets local, state, and federal regulations.

To become a public health manager, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in public health or a related field. However, many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in public health or a related field.

If you’re interested in a career in public health management, you need to be prepared to answer a variety of public health interview questions. In this guide, we’ll give you some tips on how to answer common public health manager interview questions.

Common Public Health Manager Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working with a team of people to accomplish a common goal?

Working in public health often requires collaboration with a team of people. Employers ask this question to make sure you are comfortable working with others and that you have the interpersonal skills necessary for success in their role. In your answer, explain how you enjoy collaborating with others and what makes it easy for you.

Example: “I love working with a team because I find it so rewarding when we all achieve our goals together. When I work on projects with my colleagues, I always try to be as helpful as possible. For example, if someone needs help with something, I am happy to lend them a hand. This helps me build relationships with my coworkers and also shows that I am committed to helping everyone succeed.”

What are some of the most important skills for a public health manager to have?

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 strongest skills and how they relate to public health management.

Example: “I believe that communication and problem-solving skills are two of the most important skills for a public health manager to have. As a public health manager, I would need to communicate with many different people from various backgrounds. This skill is also important because it helps me solve problems more efficiently. Another important skill is my ability to work well under pressure. In this position, there may be times when I am working on tight deadlines or managing emergencies. Having the ability to stay calm and focused can help me make better decisions.”

How would you deal with a budget shortfall if it meant cutting a public health program?

This question can help interviewers assess your ability to make tough decisions and prioritize public health programs. Use examples from past experience where you had to cut a program or reduce its budget but still managed to achieve the goals of the department.

Example: “In my current role, we have experienced budget shortfalls for the last three years in a row. We’ve been able to overcome this by finding alternative funding sources, such as grants and private donations. I also work with our marketing team to find new ways to promote our services that don’t cost money, like social media campaigns and press releases. These strategies have helped us continue providing essential public health services despite budget cuts.”

What is your experience with public health legislation and how would you enforce it?

The interviewer may ask you this question to understand your experience with public health legislation and how you would enforce it. Use examples from your previous work experience to explain what legislation you enforced, the process of enforcing it and any challenges you faced while doing so.

Example: “In my current role as a public health manager, I am responsible for ensuring that all employees follow state and federal regulations regarding public health. For example, if an employee is not following proper hand-washing procedures, I will first speak with them about the importance of washing their hands and provide resources on proper hand-washing techniques. If they continue to disregard these policies, I will write up a formal warning and document the incident in our HR database.”

Provide an example of a time you used data to make a decision that improved public health.

This question can help the interviewer learn more about your analytical skills and how you use them to improve public health. Use examples from your experience that show your ability to analyze data, interpret it and make decisions based on what you find.

Example: “In my last role as a public health manager, I noticed our county had an increase in cases of foodborne illness. After looking at the data, I found that we also had an increase in restaurant closures due to unsanitary conditions. I worked with local restaurants to educate them on proper sanitation practices and helped develop a training program for new employees. As a result, we saw a decrease in foodborne illnesses and restaurant closures.”

If a new infectious disease started spreading in your area, how would you handle it?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would handle a crisis situation. In your answer, try to explain the steps you would take to respond to the disease and protect the public’s health.

Example: “If I were faced with this situation, I would first assess the risks of the disease spreading. Then, I would work with local officials to quarantine anyone who may have been exposed. Next, I would contact healthcare providers in my area to make sure they’re aware of the new disease and know what symptoms to look for. Finally, I would inform the public about the disease so that people could take precautions.”

What would you do if you noticed a sanitation issue in a public area that you knew could lead to an outbreak?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would respond to a public health emergency. Use examples from your experience in which you responded to an outbreak or other public health issue and helped the community recover.

Example: “In my last role, I noticed that there was a sanitation issue at one of our local parks. The bathrooms were closed for cleaning, but they weren’t cleaned thoroughly enough. As a result, there was a large amount of bacteria on the floor and in the toilets. I notified the city officials immediately so they could address the problem before anyone got sick. They reopened the bathrooms after sanitizing them.”

How well do you understand public health laws and regulations?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of public health laws and regulations. This can help them determine whether you have the necessary experience to perform the job duties effectively. In your answer, try to highlight how much you know about these laws and regulations. You can also mention any specific examples of when you used your knowledge of public health laws and regulations to benefit an organization or community.

Example: “I am very familiar with public health laws and regulations because I’ve worked in public health for over 10 years. During my time as a public health specialist, I helped create new policies that improved the quality of life for many people. For example, I was part of a team that developed a policy on food safety standards. We implemented this policy at our local grocery store chain, which led to fewer cases of foodborne illness.”

Do you have any experience working with local government agencies to coordinate public health initiatives?

This question can help interviewers understand your experience working with other organizations to achieve public health goals. If you have relevant experience, describe how you worked with local government agencies and what the outcomes were.

Example: “In my current role as a public health manager, I work closely with city officials to coordinate initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles in our community. For example, we recently collaborated with the mayor’s office to create a new program that provides free fitness classes at parks throughout the city. This program has been very successful so far, and it’s helped us reach more residents than ever before.”

When is it appropriate to close public areas or events due to a public health risk?

Employers ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of keeping people safe and healthy. They want to know that you will use your judgment when making these decisions, rather than simply closing areas or events because they are inconvenient for the organization.

Example: “I would only close public areas or events if there was a significant risk to the health and safety of others. For example, I worked at an event where we had to quarantine some attendees due to a flu outbreak. We were able to keep most attendees in the venue by handing out masks and sanitizer, but we needed to isolate those who came into contact with the ill individuals. In this case, it was necessary to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.”

We want to increase public awareness of our public health initiatives. What public health awareness strategies do you recommend we use?

An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your public speaking and marketing skills. Use examples from your experience of how you’ve used public awareness strategies in the past to increase engagement with a community or organization’s initiatives.

Example: “I think one of the most effective ways to raise awareness is through social media campaigns. In my last role, we created a campaign that encouraged people to take selfies while washing their hands at public restrooms. We then posted these photos on our social media accounts to show others what proper hand-washing looks like. This strategy helped us reach thousands of new people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about our public health initiatives.”

Describe your experience working with public health data and statistics.

Public health managers use data and statistics to make informed decisions about their programs. This question helps employers understand your experience with public health data and how you used it in the past. Use examples from your previous job to show that you can work with data effectively.

Example: “In my last position, I was responsible for analyzing public health data to help inform our department’s budgeting process. I worked with a team of other public health professionals to analyze the most recent CDC data on communicable diseases, chronic illnesses and injuries. We then used this information to create reports that helped us determine which areas we should focus our resources on. This allowed us to allocate funding more efficiently.”

What makes you the best candidate for this public health manager position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and why you are the best candidate for their open position. When answering this question, it can be helpful to highlight a few of your strongest skills or experiences that make you an ideal public health manager.

Example: “I am passionate about public health and committed to making sure communities have access to quality healthcare services. I believe my previous experience working as a public health nurse makes me the most qualified candidate for this role because I understand how important it is to provide preventative care to individuals in need. My communication skills also make me a great public health manager because I can work with staff members to create effective strategies for improving community health.”

Which public health areas are you most passionate about?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your interests and how they align with the position. It’s important to show that you’re passionate about public health, but it’s also beneficial if you have specific areas of interest or expertise. You can answer this question by listing two or three topics that you are most passionate about in public health and explain why these topics matter to you.

Example: “I am passionate about environmental health because I believe everyone should be able to live in an environment where they aren’t exposed to toxins. In my last role, I worked on several initiatives to reduce air pollution in our city. Another area I’m passionate about is mental health. I think we need to do more to support people who struggle with their mental health and ensure they have access to care.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of public health?

This question can help interviewers understand your passion for public health and how you view the role of a public health manager. When answering this question, it can be helpful to discuss an experience that helped you develop your opinion on what is most important in public health.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of public health is education. If people are educated about their own health and the health of their community, they can make better decisions that will lead to healthier lives. In my last position as a public health educator, I developed programs that taught children about nutrition and exercise. These programs were so successful that many parents signed up for them too.”

How often should public areas be cleaned and sanitized?

Public health managers are responsible for ensuring that public areas, such as restaurants and grocery stores, are clean and sanitized. This question allows the interviewer to assess your knowledge of proper sanitation procedures. In your answer, provide a specific time frame in which you would perform these tasks.

Example: “I believe that public areas should be cleaned and sanitized at least once per day. I have worked with many establishments where this was not the case, and it can lead to foodborne illnesses if employees do not properly wash their hands or surfaces after handling raw foods. If possible, I would like to implement a cleaning schedule so that all public areas are being maintained on a regular basis.”

There is a public health issue that you don’t know how to handle. What is your process for researching solutions?

This question is a great way to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to research information. When answering this question, it can be helpful to provide an example of how you researched the issue and what steps you took to find solutions.

Example: “I have worked in public health for five years now, so I am familiar with many issues that may arise. However, there was one time when I encountered a situation where I didn’t know how to handle it. The issue was related to food safety, and I knew that if we handled it incorrectly, it could lead to serious illness or even death. So, I did some research on the topic and found out that the best solution would be to educate the public about proper food handling techniques. This helped me understand how to handle similar situations in the future.”


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