Top 7 Healthcare COO Interview Questions to Ask

Image of content creator smiling for camera
Written by Katherine Zheng, PhD, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Candidates for a healthcare facility's COO position walk down the hallway.

The chief operating officer (COO) plays an important role in overseeing day-to-day operations at a healthcare facility. They work closely with other members of the executive board to ensure that priorities around finances, patient care, and organizational culture are being met. As such, preparing in-depth COO interview questions is essential for bringing the best candidate into your C-suite.

A detailed job description can attract quality candidates who are equipped to carry out the extensive duties of a COO. However, you’ll be better able to assess how well a candidate’s leadership style aligns with the mission and values of your facility during the interview. To help you with the hiring process, we’ve put together the top interview questions you should ask your COO candidates.

Questions to Ask a COO In an Interview

The COO is a senior level position that typically requires several years of leadership and related healthcare experience. The ideal candidate should have strong skills in organization, delegation, and coordination while demonstrating an understanding of your facility’s culture. Here are seven essential COO interview questions that will help bring these qualities to light.

1. How have your past experiences prepared you to be the COO of this facility?

This is a great starter question because the candidate can share aspects of their work history that are most relevant to this position and your facility’s operations. Not only does this allow them to sell their strengths, but it also sheds light on what qualities the candidate believes are important for leading your organization. This can help set the overall tone for the rest of the interview.

2. In your first 30 days, describe what steps you would take to familiarize yourself with our facility’s operations and patient care priorities.

Members of the C-suite are expected to have a strong grasp on the facility’s operations and goals. It’s important for candidates to have an efficient process for familiarizing themselves with expected duties, especially if you’re bringing in an outside hire.

This question can also help you assess a candidate’s ability to produce an organized, systematic approach to problem solving. Additionally, it highlights their enthusiasm and drive to adapt to your facility’s culture.

3. A management leader notifies you that staff turnover rates in several departments have been high, affecting costs and care quality. If you were the COO, what would you do and why?

One of the responsibilities of a COO is to ensure each department in a healthcare facility is functioning smoothly and independently. Any issues that can’t be solved at the department level will eventually work their way up to higher management, and it’s crucial that the’re comfortable with big-picture problem solving.

This question exercises a candidate’s skills in leadership and delegation. Providing a hypothetical case scenario such as staffing issues can also help you gauge how a candidate might utilize strategies to improve departmental operations.

4. Describe a time that you disagreed with another member of a healthcare leadership team and how you handled the situation.

The COO will be working very closely with other executive members, so a candidate must be able to function well within a team. This question allows you to assess their soft and hard skills in communication. It also clues you into how they’d handle difficult situations that may occur in a senior role and their flexibility when accounting for multiple perspectives.

5. As COO, what strategies would you use to balance patient care priorities with profit goals?

Leading a healthcare facility requires balancing different and sometimes competing priorities. A focus on both profits and care quality coincide to support the longevity of an organization. This is one of the most important COO interview questions for assessing a candidate’s ability to connect these two factors in a way that is productive to your facility without compromising your values.

6. From your previous roles, can you give an example of a time you implemented a strategy that improved care delivery?

A candidate’s answer to this question can introduce how they might utilize performance data to propose new strategies. Not only does this provide a tangible example from their previous experiences, but it also gives you a better idea of their critical thinking and organizational skills.

For instance, does their example touch on cost-effectiveness, patient satisfaction, or staff safety? The comprehensiveness of their answer can tell you about their ability to weigh factors that are integral to running a healthy facility.

7. How does your approach to leadership align with our facility’s mission and values?

On top of facilitating operations to meet organizational goals, a COO should be able to exemplify the facility’s values. This question allows you to assess how much research the candidate has done about your organization, which showcases their interest and personal alignment with the role.

Additionally, the COO will be interacting with a wide variety of partners, staff, and patients throughout their time at the facility. As a recognizable face, it’s important for a candidate to embody the company’s mission in their day-to-day demeanor.

We Fill Facility Openings With Qualified Staff

Whether you’re a facility leader wondering what COO interview questions to ask or a professional looking for your next job, IntelyCare has you covered. Join our community today and learn how our comprehensive staffing strategies can help you thrive in the healthcare industry.