How to Conduct an Interview for Public Health Inspector

Public health inspectors are alert for threats to their community.

Public health inspectors are alert for threats to their community.

Want to know why you don't have to worry about your favorite restaurant making you sick? It's because of public health inspectors. They are responsible for maintaining the health and hygiene of restaurants, sewers, and other facilities within their community, and are the first line of defense against outbreaks of illness that can affect entire towns. It is important to ask the right questions when it comes to interviewing candidates for the position of public health inspector. With just a few simple questions, you can keep your entire community safer and make the right choice after conducting interviews.

Ask how her education corresponds to the job. Different states have different educational requirements. New York, for instance, recommends the candidate have a minimum of an associate degree, or that she has completed 60 college credit hours, with 12 of them in the natural sciences -- biology, chemistry, physics, geology, hydrology. Inquire how the specific classes she has taken will prepare her for the duties of health inspection, writing reports, and supervising others. You don't want someone who just looks good on paper; make sure she can articulate why her education makes her a good hire!

Inquire about how her experience corresponds to the job. Typical public health inspector responsibilities include fun tasks such as identifying hazards related to food, hazardous material, waste management, chemicals and contaminants. She must be a veteran of dirty work, skilled with disposing of things, and at home inspecting sewers, gutters, and plumbing. She should demonstrate how her previous employment has prepared her for the versatile demands of the position. Ask her to give you the Cliffsnotes version of what she learned from each job, and how these skills prepare her for what she thinks the responsibilities of health inspector are.

Role-play specific scenarios. It sounds weird, but it is highly effective. Give the candidate very specific scenarios -- such as toxic contaminants being found at a local restaurant -- and ask her to explain, in detail, how she would respond to this situation. Role-playing isn't just for socially awkward gamers; it forces the candidate to think on her feet and to exhibit her control of a situation. For maximum benefit, make sure the scenario is something she has never faced before; she will likely make some errors, and you can see how well she'll respond to criticism. You don't want someone who hates feedback.

Ask why she is passionate about the job. Many candidates may look similar if they are solely measured by education and experience. However, by identifying a candidate who truly cares about her work and is passionate about helping others, you can hire the best applicant, one who will devote her life to the job. That may sound dramatic, but remember that many lives are in the hands of the public health inspector, and that passion for the work may help to keep those lives safe.

 

About the Author

Dr. Chris Snellgrove is a writing specialist, and a veteran of everything from a book-length dissertation to a newspaper editor's desk. He has produced work for academic, business, creative, and non-profit endeavors.

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