Top 20 Public Health Specialist Interview Questions & Answers in 2023

Public Health Specialist Interview Questions & Answers

Are you looking for a public health specialist job? This article covers 20 commonly asked interview questions along with sample answers to help you get ready for your interview.

1. Why Are You Interested In This Role?

The interviewer asks this question to determine your passion and motivations for the job. The best way to respond to this question is to verify your dedication to the role as well as expressing your excitement about this role. In your response demonstrate the desire to improve the lives of people.

Sample Answer

“When I was a child, I got really sick. My mum took me to the hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, I did not get the right diagnosis. We visited three different hospitals before I could get the right diagnosis. I was treated and I got healed. Since then, I have always wanted to be in the public health sector. I will feel fulfilled in this role and I’m dedicated to providing the best to my patients. Additionally, I possess high public health science and management skills that will enable me to perform this role effectively.”


2. What Are The Roles Of A Public Health Specialist?

The recruiting team wants to find out whether you are familiar with the duties of a public health specialist. As you answer the question, demonstrate a solid understanding of what a public health specialist does as you align the roles with the job description.

Sample Answer

“ Public health specialist is responsible for improving the health of individuals and the entire society by preventing diseases and injuries, controlling infectious diseases, and promoting healthy living. They also identify and investigate health issues as well as health hazards in the people. They offer the required personal health services to people and the entire community. Additionally, they develop plans and policies that guide people and community health initiatives. They are also responsible for searching for new ideas and innovative solutions to health issues that affect people.”

3. What Are The Qualities That A Public Health Specialist Need To Be Successful?

While asking this question, the interviewer is assessing if you are conversant with the qualities of a skilled public health specialist. State several qualities of a public health specialist and keep it brief and precise.

Sample Answer

“A good public health specialist need to have very strong communication, analytical, assessment, communication, management, financial planning, leadership, and critical thinking skills. He or she needs to have research and interpretation skills to be able to search for ideas that solve health issues. It is also important for a public health professional to possess the ability to work under pressure individually or in a team.”

4. What Major Challenges Did You Face During Your Last Role? How Did You Manage Them?

Your answer to this question enables the interviewer to know what you consider a challenge and if you can handle stressful and difficult situations. The best strategy of responding to this question is by providing a challenge that points to your skills and explains how you solved it.

Sample Answer

“The major challenge has been dealing with uninsured categories of patients. It has been difficult to provide them with the same amount of care as with the insured patients. The health care systems experience financial strain when offering care for a large unsecured population. I talked to a former schoolmate who was working in an insurance firm and we agreed that it was necessary to educate the community members on the importance of having an insurance cover. We came up with a plan which we implemented in a month. Many people joined got the insurance cover and this reduced the financial pressure on the health care facility I was working with.”

5. Describe Your Daily Routine as a Public Health Specialist?

The recruiting manager wants to know how you prioritize your work. While answering this question, explain how you begin your day, how long you have followed that routine, and your favorite activity in that routine. Convey your answer in a way that demonstrates that you do make good use of your time.

Sample Answer

“I begin my day by checking through my emails and voicemails messages to find out if there is anything that I need to respond to. Then, I embark on my daily duties which include promoting healthy behaviors in the community, ensuring that the local public infrastructure is adequate, working to preventing the spread of communicable diseases, promoting against environmental health hazards, responding to emergencies, among other duties.”

6. Describe Briefly About Your Experience

The response you provide for this question will help your interviewer to know if your background experience matches the need of the employer. While answering this question, summarize your work history and align it to the position of a public health specialist. Ensure to demonstrate that you have reflected on the expectations of your potential employer.

Sample Answer

“I have been a public health specialist for 4 years now. During this time, I have gained a lot of skills in improving the health of individuals and the entire society by preventing diseases and injuries; controlling infectious diseases;  promoting healthy living; identifying and investigating health issues as well as health hazards in the people; offering the required personal health services to people and the entire community. Additionally, I can develop plans and policies that guide people and community health initiatives. Given a chance, I will do my best in searching for new ideas and innovative solutions to health issues that affect people.”

7. What Kind of Strategies and Mindset is Required for This Role?

This question allows your interviewer to understand the strategy and mindset you will put into use while performing your duties. Explain some of your soft skills and strategy you will use when interacting with patients and other staff members.

Sample Answer

“Every public health specialist needs to know that this job is not only about mastering clinical skills but it also requires a sense of humanity and compassion. Having in mind that early prevention is relatively inexpensive, the public health specialist must be able to influence and drive change. They should have a strategy to communicate their vision and win others to embrace and implement that vision.”

8. What Is The Biggest Challenge That You Foresee In This Job?

The recruiting team asks this question to evaluate your ability to deal with challenging situations. As you answer this question, state one of the difficult tasks from the job description and demonstrate how you can use your abilities to handle it.

Sample Answer

“The biggest challenge that I foresee in this job is the trend in which the technology is evolving. It might be expensive and difficult to cope with these changes. It is changing the procedure in clinical procedures, drug administration, etc. For instance, the organ transplant is solving a lot of problems in patients. However, it is becoming quite expensive for the majority of patients to afford the service. However, I have enough knowledge on insurance cover and I can advise people to take the cover. This will go a long way in enabling patients to access some services that could have been difficult on their own.”

9. How Do You Stay Motivated In Your Work?

This question helps the interviewer to know more about you as a person. The best way to answer this question is to state some of the things you value in your profession and demonstrate how that makes you fit for the job.

Sample Answer

“I am dedicated to meet my goal. My goal has been to improve health outcomes for populations through the achievement of the objectives of preventing disease and the health consequences of environmental hazards and natural or man-made disasters; promoting behaviors that reduce the risk of communicable and non-communicable diseases.”

10. Describe A Time When You Failed In This Role And The Lesson You Learnt?

The recruiter wants to know whether you can acknowledge your shortcomings and learn from your mistakes. To answer this question, describe the situation, the choices you made, and the outcome. Then talk about how that experience taught you.

Sample Answer

“When I was new in this career, I paid more attention to the issue of chronic sicknesses. I didn’t think that the problem of infectious disease could be a threat. However, rapid severe acute respiratory diseases emerged along with multidrug-resistant bacteria. This made me specialize in infectious diseases. I have been using this knowledge to rebuild the public health system and making the environment a better place for everybody.”

11. Why Do You Feel You Are The Most Suited For This Role?

By asking this, the interviewer wants to know if you are fit for this role. Explain your educational background and work experience, but also include a personal life experience or a passion that fits with the healthcare position.

Sample answer

“Besides having strong organizational and analytical skills, I possess a university degree in public health. I have been a public health officer at an international development organization for four years. During this time, I have gained a lot of skills in interpersonal, management, partnering, and networking. I have a proven record in supporting and promoting healthy living.”

12. Share With Us Your Greatest Achievement.

The interviewer asks this question to gauge your past job performance. This question allows you to brag about yourself and share what you’re truly proud of professionally.

Sample Answer

“My biggest achievement was when I was able to convince 46% of our patients to take insurance cover. This reduced the financial pressure on the health facility I was working with. Our patients were could also access some services that could have been difficult for them if they were to pay for some of the health services for themselves.”


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13. How Do You Communicate Bad News To Patients?

While asking this question, the interviewer wants to assess your interpersonal skills and compassion for patients. In your response, highlights some of the steps you can take to manage the situation as you announce bad news.

Sample Answer

“First, I would gather all clinical information to make sure I was ready to answer their questions. If family members are in the room, I would introduce myself to everyone and verify if the patient prefers to receive the results in private or if their relatives can stay. I would start by saying that I am sorry, but I have bad news. I would explain the situation frankly, and without complicated words, make sure everybody understands. I know it is important to allow the patients and their loved ones to process the information, so I would wait before I repeat the key facts and write them down for the patient. I would then explain what they can expect shortly, and ensure there are no more questions before I leave the room.”

14. Imagine You Have A Patient Who Requires A Lot Of Your Time. How Can You Manage Those Patients And Still Offer Adequate Care To Other Patients?

The interviewer asks this question to gauge your personality, organizational and time management skills. The best strategy for answering this question is to demonstrate your ability to prioritize tasks. Be positive as you explain the situation and do not comment negatively on difficult patients.

Sample Answer

 “I have worked with demanding patients multiple times. Recently, I had one whose condition seemed to worsen on a hectic day. Before attending to him, I first identified if there were life-threatening conditions among the hospital unit, and prioritized those. On the other hand, this patient had high fevers. I ordered a blood test on him and I ensured that his vitals were stable. Then, I tasked team members with obtaining blood cultures and administered time-sensitive treatments like insulin or antibiotics. Then we took care of the other needs like toileting or patients’ appointments.”

15. Have You Ever Encountered A Patient Who Didn’t Disclose Important Information To You. How Did You Manage The Situation, And What Was The Outcome?

The employer asks this question to verify your ability to analyze a situation and make a decision considering the patient’s needs. The best way of responding to this question is by showing that you are self-disciplined and that you can find solutions.

Sample Answer

 “Yes, I have encountered such patients. I once had a patient who was complaining about stomach pains. She had been accompanied by her husband. Each time I asked her a question, she would look at her husband before answering it. I realized that she wasn’t comfortable and since I needed her honest input to provide the right diagnosis, I requested the husband to excuse us so that we could have a private examination. In the absence of her husband, she told me everything that I needed to confirm. I realized what the problem was and provided proper care.”


16. How Do You Stay Informed With Current Healthcare Advancements?

The interviewer asks this question to know whether you are updated on the current advancements in the healthcare sector Be honest to your interviewer as you respond to this question. If you are not familiar with continuing education, you can always express your intention to inform yourself in the future.

Sample Answer

“I believe that in this field, education does not come to an end. I know how important it is to stay updated regarding new developments in the healthcare field. I have subscribed to scientific newsletters such as NIH News in health and Kaiser Health. Additionally, I always take continuing education courses available at a nearby local community college to stay informed.”


17. In Your View, How Do You See The Future Of Healthcare?

The response you give to this question shows whether you are innovative and creative. In your response, demonstrate your ability to think creatively and provide an innovative approach to treating illness.

Sample Answer

“With the technology advancement and use of digital apps, I believe that many healthcare workers will include more connectivity applications in their patient care management.  The process will allow patients to access information from their providers and this will strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.”

18. How Do You Manage Work Pressure In Your Work?

By asking this question, the interviewer wants to see how you handle pressure. In your response, demonstrate your ability to work under pressure.

Sample Answer

“I honestly thrive under pressure. It acts as a catalyst to my work, especially when meeting patients’ needs. When working under pressure, I refocus my energy on my work. This helps me to produce the best results.”

19. In Your View, What Kind Of Care Does An Elderly Client Need?

The employer asks this question to determine your ability to provide care to different types of patients. In your response, emphasize your understanding of elderly patients’ requirements and their desire to remain independent.

Sample Answer

“I think elderly patients value their independence. I can help them achieve this by offering to them the best occupational therapy.”

20. What Is Your Salary Expectation?

The interviewer wants to know if your salary expectation is within their budget or not. Avoid giving specific figures but instead, provide a range of what you expect.

Sample Answer

“The average salary for a public health specialist with my level of experience and skills is between $125,000 and $130,000. I am seeking something similar to this range for this role.”


Now that you know what to expect from your interviewer, practice these questions and answer to give your best. Also, arrive early in the interview venue and be sure to wear an outfit that suits an interview.

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