In another recent application, I encountered a question asking “What excites you about the intersection of health and technology.”
In my experience, open-ended questions are rare in job applications and reserved for interviews. In either situation, the question may provide some useful information about the organization’s priorities and what they may look for in a candidate.
In responding to application or interview questions, I aim to share my values and experience and how they may align with an organization.
Asking My Own Questions
I try to ask myself a series of questions to steer towards an answer. During an interview I often don’t have time to be thorough but I try to whisk through them before giving a response.
- Do I understand the question?There is little to be confused by in this question. Initially I am unsure how to portray my excitement but expect to be more comfortable after reviewing the context and forming an opinion.
- Do I understand the context?This question was highly relevant to the application and organization. The position was posted by a design firm seeking a manager of software development (technology) for medical device products (healthcare).While the position and projects are highly technical, the firm is best known for its application of human-centered design. As such, the firm likely aims to affirm the candidates character and passion would be effective in motivating a team towards success in designing healthcare technology.
- Do I agree with the premise?I dislike this question because of its inherent lack of balance. In the least, I would prefer a follow-up question asking, “What challenges and limitations do you see in applying technology to issues of health?” Or simply join the two, “What potential and hurdles do you seen in the application of technology to issues of health?”
- What is my opinion?I chose to become a biomedical engineer precisely because it affords me the opportunity to apply my interest in technology to issues of human health. While an obvious answer may relate to the technology used to treat a disease or condition, I believe the technology’s greatest potential is in eliminating uncertainty.
- How much space do I have?This application did not provide a word limit. However, were I the reviewer, I would prefer a succinct, cogent response. I would target a response of 1 or 2 paragraphs depending on the evidence and context needed to support my opinion.
- Can I provide context or evidence to clarify my response?I am introducing a new concept in my response, “uncertainty”, so it would be helpful to provide some examples.
My Answer to the Question
Uncertainty is present at every turn in a patient’s medical journey. The stress of a medical issue is elevated by confusing data and growing medical costs. Physicians are expected to treat complicated diseases through brief encounters with patients. Even community leaders are challenged to create effective policies with inadequate information.
I am excited by technology’s potential to hasten our identification, understanding, and resolution of uncertainties in these medical journeys. A new technology may in the least make a tough job a bit easier, and at its best build bridges between those working towards new solutions. It is my mission to significantly improve human health by developing effective medical technologies.