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Cracking the Code to Your First Coding Job

By Andrew Moberg

After students have selected a program, completed coursework, and graduated with a diploma or degree in Medical Billing and Coding (MBC), the final, most significant, challenge remains: landing an MBC job.

Even in a booming field and with the right qualifications, it still can be nerve-wracking to interview. As a school focused on the allied health care professions, including MBC, Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) has helped thousands of students graduate and successfully navigate the hiring process.

Along the way, we offer students key tips and considerations for landing that first position.

Boost your confidence ahead of the interview.
When you’re interviewing with a physician or a hospital administrator, it’s easy to feel intimidated. However, remember that you’ve spent a year or two immersed in topics relevant to the role you’re seeking, giving you the background necessary to hold your own. When you’re preparing for an interview, make time for confidence-boosting exercises, such as mock interviews, to get a sense of the type of questions they’ll ask.

Be sure to talk about your people skills.
Employers will want to ensure that you have the MBC knowledge to be successful at work. But most jobs also require “soft skills” such as reliability, willingness to work as part of a team, attention to detail, and the ability to stick with tasks to get the job done well. Think about the ways that you’ve honed these skills and be ready to talk about them.

For instance, did you complete group projects? Balance your education with a full- or part-time job? Do you have past career experience that helped you gather these skills (even if it’s something seemingly unrelated like a retail job)? All of these examples can go a long way in showing your potential employer that you are the right fit.

Know what you’re getting into.
Interviews differ from organization to organization. A physician’s office with five people on staff will probably conduct the interview process differently than a large hospital system. Generally, the smaller the office or organization, the more personal the process. You may be meeting directly with the person who would be your boss, who will be looking closely at your personality to ensure you’ll fit with the rest of their team.

On the other hand, you can expect a less intimate experience at a larger organization, where the initial interview will probably be with a human resources representative. This type of interview may include a formal skill or personality assessment, and is unlikely to conclude with a decision on whether or not you got the job.

No matter where you’re interviewing, take your cues from the person conducting the interview. If they’re passionate and energetic, return that energy. A bit more subdued and formal? Follow their lead on that as well. This technique is called mirroring, and it will help you do well with the interviewer.

Come prepared and follow up.
Interviewers will want to see that you’re genuinely interested. Do some research beforehand, and come with at least a couple of questions. Putting in the effort here shows your engagement and desire to get hired.

After the interview, don’t forget to thank the interviewer. Whether by snail mail or e-mail, it’s good business manners to be gracious to your interviewer for taking the time to consider you. And a good thank you note can keep you top of mind.

Know what to expect those first days.
After you get hired, do a quick reality check to prepare for your time on the job. MBC jobs are often nonstop. No matter how much paperwork you get through, there will be more waiting the next day—and that’s OK. You may also not have as much responsibility as you’d like right off the bat. But if you put in the work and are a strong employee, that increased responsibility will likely come down the line.

Finally, MBC is a constantly changing field. Expect the health care and coding systems to evolve throughout the course of your career. The good news is that you probably picked this field because you like to learn, and now you’ll always have a chance to do just that.

We hope that these tips help you shake off those “getting a job” nerves, just like they’ve helped our thousands of UMA graduates over the years. Remember to be your best version of yourself on the big day, and that first gig likely won’t be far behind.

Good luck, and get out there!

Andrew Moberg is the senior director of career services for Ultimate Medical Academy.