Questions to Ask Clinical Director Candidates During an Interview

Your behavioral health facility needs a new clinical director, and you’re working hard to find the best person for the job. It’s almost time to start interviewing candidates, so you want to prepare a list of questions to make sure you cover all the bases.

Since a clinical director has such a profound impact on your organization, you’re planning to get very specific with your questions, to ensure you find the best fit. Here’s five you’ll want to be sure to ask.

Describe your de-escalation technique?

As you’re certainly aware, some patients are very satisfied with the care they receive at your facility, but not everyone feels this way. It’s important for a clinical director to be able to step in and help calm angry patients when they’re upset about issues like financial disputes, scheduling concerns, and the care they’re receiving from staff members.

You need someone with excellent conflict management skills, who can diffuse the situation, instead of making it worse. A great response might involve allowing the patient to explain their grievance uninterrupted, then apologizing — whether or not their anger is justified — and working to find a solution that pleases everyone.

How do you organize a team?

Whether they’re putting a patient care team together or adjusting staff schedules, a clinical director needs outstanding leadership skills. This question helps you gauge their ability to read each unique situation and take the reins. Getting a glimpse at their process will help you envision them in the role and decide if they’re the right person to guide your staff.

Explain how you deal with difficult patients?

As noted above, some patients are a dream to care for, while others are a bit more challenging. Sometimes a clinical director needs to step in, when a staff member is having trouble handling one of the latter.

Outstanding interpersonal skills are a must for anyone in this role, because they’re able to remain calm and display empathy in tricky situations. The right candidate will explain a process that involves listening to the patient and treating them kindly, while also having their staff’s back.

How do strike a healthy work-life balance in a job like this that may require overtime?

Being a clinical director is a big job that doesn’t always fit into a 40-hour workweek. Whether they need to attend events outside of work hours or put in overtime during particularly hectic periods at your facility, you need someone willing to work overtime, who won’t let a busy schedule get to them.

The best candidates will show their passion for the job in their response, by enthusiastically acknowledging potential overtime, while also highlighting their own efficient work habits. Take the latter as a sign they’ll be laser-focused during their time at work, so they can enjoy as much balance as possible in the job.

What do you think it takes to be a successful clinical director?

Serving as an effective clinical director means something different at every facility, so it’s important your definition of success matches the candidate’s. Of course, you’ll want to listen for specifics that relate to your healthcare setting, but more general topics their response should include are keeping up with changing policies, ensuring high patient satisfaction levels, and always making their staff feel supported.

Are you looking for a new clinical director? We Can Help!

Ready to hire a new clinical director? To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at

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