Top Medical Coding Interview Questions and Answers

Medical coding is the process of translating medical procedures diagnoses and services into universal alphanumeric codes. These codes are then used for administrative purposes such as medical billing, quality reporting, and insurance reimbursement. As the healthcare industry continues to grow, so does the demand for qualified medical coders. Employers are looking to hire candidates with the right blend of medical knowledge and meticulous attention to detail.

If you have an interview lined up for a medical coding role you can expect to be assessed for your coding proficiency as well as general workplace skills. This guide covers some of the most common medical coder interview questions along with examples of strong responses. Let’s get you prepped to ace your next medical coding interview!

Common Medical Coding Interview Questions

Here are some frequent interview questions specific to assessing your medical coding knowledge

1. What is medical coding?

This fundamental question gauges your understanding of the core responsibility of a medical coder. Be sure to touch on:

  • How codes standardize medical data for various purposes
  • The types of codes assigned (CPT, ICD-10, HCPCS)
  • How codes translate medical procedures and diagnoses into universal alphanumeric formats

Example response:

“Medical coding involves reviewing clinical documentation from patient medical records and assigning universal alphanumeric codes to represent medical conditions, services rendered, procedures performed and equipment used. This coded data is utilized for public health reporting, insurance claims processing, medical research, billing and reimbursement. Accuracy is crucial, as errors can disrupt patient care, decrease revenue and violate compliance.”

2. What are the skills that a medical coder should possess?

This question evaluates whether you have the inherent qualities needed to excel as a coder. Important skills to highlight include:

  • Strong medical terminology knowledge
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Organizational skills for workflow management
  • Analytical skills to interpret complex documentation
  • Time management and ability to meet deadlines
  • Proficiency in coding software and EHR systems

Example response:

“To be an effective medical coder, one must have a vast working knowledge of medical terminology to accurately translate narrative descriptions into codes. Meticulous attention to detail is crucial for code precision and compliance. Organizational skills help manage coding workflow and ensure deadlines are met. Analytical ability enables appropriate code selection for complex cases based on clinical indicators within documentation. Familiarity with coding software and VIR technologies is also imperative.”

3. What are some common phrases used in clinical coding?

Your answer here demonstrates your applied knowledge from working with real medical documentation. Some terminology to organically weave in includes:

  • Co-morbidities
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Presenting symptoms
  • Diagnostic impression
  • Subjective/Objective assessment
  • Progress notes

Example response:

“When reviewing a patient’s clinical documentation, I often come across certain standard phrases like ‘presenting with shortness of breath and chest pain’ to describe the reason for their visit. In the assessment, physicians outline their diagnostic impression based on presenting symptoms and any co-morbidities. Descriptions like ‘patient continues to progress well post-operatively with no complications’ are frequently found in progress notes.”

4. What are ICD codes?

This question tests your understanding of this major code category. Be sure to cover:

  • ICD refers to International Classification of Diseases
  • Used to classify medical diagnoses and conditions
  • Currently in its 10th version (ICD-10) which has ~69,000 codes
  • Codes consist of 3-7 alpha-numeric characters

Example response:

“ICD codes or International Classification of Diseases codes provide a standardized system to categorize medical diagnoses. For example, diabetes could be ICD-10 coded as E11.9 for Type 2 Diabetes without complications. These diagnosis codes are some of the most commonly used by medical coders during the coding process.”

5. What are HCPCS codes?

Your answer should demonstrate your knowledge of this other critical coding system:

  • HCPCS = Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System
  • Used to code procedures, supplies and equipment
  • Consists of Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes and Level II alphanumeric codes
  • More extensive than CPT code set

Example response:

“HCPCS, or the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System, is a comprehensive code set used to identify medical procedures, equipment and supplies outside of physician services. HCPCS is composed of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes as well as locally assigned alphanumeric codes that identify medical equipment, supplies and additional services not covered by CPT codes. Accurately assigning HCPCS codes is vital for reimbursement and billing.”

6. When are HCPCS modifiers used?

Modifiers provide extra detail on the coded procedures and services:

  • Appended to CPT or HCPCS codes (e.g. 99213-25)
  • Used to indicate items like laterality, extent of service etc.
  • Necessary for accurate description and claims processing

Example response:

“HCPCS modifiers are primarily used to add specificity to CPT and Level II HCPCS codes. For example, appending modifier -LT to a coded procedure indicates it was performed on the left side of the body. Other common modifiers include -59 to identify a distinct procedural service or -AS to show a procedure was performed by an assistant surgeon. Appropriate application of modifiers results in higher claims reimbursement rates.”

7. What are DRG codes?

For hospital coding roles, you need to know this specific classification system:

  • DRG = Diagnosis Related Group
  • Used to classify hospital inpatient stays into groups for payment
  • Based on diagnoses, procedures, age, and comorbidities
  • Approximately over 700 DRGs exist

Example response:

“DRG or Diagnosis Related Group codes categorize hospital inpatient stays into groups that depict a similar consumption of hospital resources. Each DRG is assigned a payment weight based on the average cost to treat patients in that group. Accurate DRG assignment through medical coding is crucial because it determines the payment amount the hospital will receive from insurers for each patient stay.”

With strong responses to these medical coding interview questions, you can demonstrate the specialized knowledge needed to excel in this role. Let’s now look at some other key interview questions you may encounter.

General Interview Questions

In addition to coding proficiency, hiring managers want to assess critical thinking, professional skills, and workplace behaviors. Some examples include:

1. How do you stay current on medical coding guidelines and updates to code sets?

This evaluates your commitment to continuously develop your coding knowledge. Highlight activities like:

  • Reading coding examiner newsletters
  • Taking continuing education courses
  • Attending industry conferences and workshops

2. Describe a time you identified a coding error before it affected billing. How did you handle this?

Share a story highlighting your attention to detail, quality standards and accountability.

3. How do you prioritize your coding workload when dealing with tight deadlines or backlogs?

This tests your time management and organization skills under pressure.

4. Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker. How was it resolved?

Your answer reveals your teamwork, communication and conflict resolution skills.

5. Why are you interested in this medical coding role and what makes you a strong candidate?

Conclude by directly relating your skills and interests to the position at hand.

Preparation is key to tackling coder interview questions with confidence. As long as you understand core coding concepts, continuously build your medical knowledge, and sharpen your communication abilities, you will be ready to take on any medical coding interview.


Medical coders should code all the significant data. When a specialist treats the patient and claims for insurance. The insurance agency will need accurate information to handle the case. Clinical coders pass the data to the insurance agencies with proper data. So, It is imperative to prepare for a clinical coder interview. The candidate displays his insight and fitness for clinical coding. One can use his response to show ability and client help abilities. His response to questions can show his ability to clarify complex ideas. Thus, one can show his mastery and an inclination for clinical coding undertakings.

There are different types of questions.

  • Question based on knowledge or skill of medical coding
  • Questions for fresh candidates
  • Question-based on experience
  • Behavioral questions
  • Question based on the role of the Medical Coder

Q.5 What is a fee schedule in medical coding?

Answer. A fee schedule is a list of set prices for different medical services or procedures. Insurance companies often use them to figure out how much to reimburse doctors.


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