A Conversation with Dennis Yee, Recruiter

I interviewed Dennis Yee, Recruiter for Valley Children’s Hospital, and he shared his top behavioral interview questions. The 15 questions below are great for nurses (the last few are specifically for children’s health nurses). Asking these questions may revolutionize your interviews of nurses, especially if you seek to better implement a behavioral interviewing process.

By reading this blog you will:

  • See the value of behavioral interviewing
  • Learn categories of behavioral interview questions
  • Take away 15 behavioral interview questions to help craft your interview process

Chad Harrington
10 March 2016

Valley Children's Hospital

Image credit: Valley Children’s Hospital

With nearly 15 years experience in healthcare recruitment, Dennis Yee has honed the art of behavioral interviewing. His goal is to find the most qualified candidates for Valley Children’s Hospital.

To give a little context, Yee has served as the president and board member for the National Association for Healthcare Recruitment (NAHCR), among other healthcare leadership positions in California. That’s in addition to his ground-level experience for over a decade and half in healthcare. He’s got a resume to tout.

Yee seeks “to recruit the most qualified individual for any specific positions that we’re recruiting for at any given time.”

His litmus test for “qualified” individuals is simple: When interviewing, he and his hiring managers ask themselves, “Would I feel comfortable allowing this person to care for my children?” If the answer is no, they don’t make the hire.

I dug in deeper to find out what questions he asks during behavioral interviews. Learning how to ask these questions could make or break your next hire. But first, the challenges of the interview process.


My favorite part is toward the end at 4:02, where he talks about self-care for recruiters:

5 minute listen


Pain points of healthcare interviews

Yee says that one of the greatest pain points in healthcare recruitment today is that people are so used to interviewing that their skills are very polished. This means he has to peel back a few more layers to really get to know the candidate. Things have changed during in his career.

So how does one break through the fluff? Asking good questions and watching the candidate closely during the interview.

15 Helpful Behavioral Interview Questions for Nurses

I’ve categorized his questions by type:

  • Clinical skills
  • Teamwork
  • Future-oriented questions
  • Industry-specific questions

A. Clinical skills questions

1. Share with us a time when you were going to administer medication to a patient.
2. What did you do when you realized when the dosage was incorrect?

Goal: See their specific skills in clinical situations.

B. Teamwork questions

3. Who was your favorite physician.
4. Why were they your favorite?
5. What qualities did that physician possess?
6. Tell us the type of physician you did not get along with.
7. What were the issues and barriers?
8. How did you overcome?
9. What did you do to make it more pleasurable?

Goal: Since nurses work with physicians, you need to measure their communication skills with those individuals.

C. Future questions: Education and certification

10. Share with us which certifications you have, which ones you want to obtain, and “what are your plans of continuing education?”

Goal: They want to know that their technical skills and IT are going to be improving. Look to see if they’ve done research on certifications.

D. Industry-specific questions

Since Yee recruits for Valley Children’s Hospital, he asks *questions specific to children’s health*. Whatever your industry, ask questions like these specific to your patient-base:

11. Share with us a time when you had a stressful situation working with a child patient.
12. What did you do to relieve that child’s stress?
13. What successful outcomes came from that?
14. Share a situation when you had to work with that child’s parents. What issues did you have?
15. How did you overcome the parent’s concerns over the child’s health?

Goal: Make sure the nurse is a child-friendly individual.

Relode: Why ask the right behavioral interview questions?

Dennis Yee; Image credit: Valley Children's Hospital

Dennis Yee; Image credit: Valley Children’s Hospital

Dennis Yee: “It’s probably the best methodology to compare candidates for positions. If you are applying to work with us and we had two or three others applying to that exact same position, if we consistently ask—which we do—the same set of behavioral questions to the candidates, based on those candidates responses, we can then determine and make our decision based on who we feel is the best candidate for the position.

“Versus, let’s say we were asking close-ended questions (for just a yes or a no). All the other candidates responses were yes or no, so it would be very difficult to assess who’s going to be the most qualified person based on those responses. There’s nothing to justify the decision on.”

More on behavior interviewing for healthcare candidates

DY: “There’s so many questions out there (and many of them are better than others) and you try to ask some of the questions on their clinical skills, their ability to handle stress, team work, communication. Ask a question or two under each of those categories. The key is being consistent by asking those same exact questions to every candidate for that position.”

What are your top 3 pieces of advice for healthcare recruiters?


1. Build your network and continue building your network
2. Get involved in your professional community
3. Celebrate victories and recharge

Valley Children’s Hospital

  • Location: Madera, California (North of Fresno)
  • 50-acre campus
  • 550 physicians
  • 356 licensed beds
  • One of the largest hospitals of its type in the nation
  • One of fewer than 10 pediatric intensive care units in the nation to have received the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence
  • Vision: to become the nation’s best children’s hospital