Not long ago, I was asked if I could provide some insight into hiring competent staff. I told the person that we were embarking on a similar journey to find top notch employees and the best that I could do, was share the steps that we’ve taken so far. Below is what I shared with the gentlemen that asked the question:
Jot down, on a piece of paper, areas in your practice you need improvements. Don’t just say, I need administrative oversight, but rather, dig deeper in your assessment. For example, one area in my practice that needs improvement is with follow-through. We have good ideas, but don’t have staff that picks up the vision, makes it their own, and sees it though.
Ponder… what is it that your practice needs exactly (ie. improve marketing, start an asthma clinic, improve budgeting, implement clinical work-flows, increase the number of patients, pay the bills on time, etc.).
In our practice, one of the things that didn’t meet our expectations, was the handling of chronically ill patients. Thus by determining areas of improvement, we decided we wanted someone that could help us manage chronic patients. For this role, we needed an experienced RN (or an exceptional MA, although that is less likely, but still an option if somebody were to show up) to take charge of a project like this.
Next, sit down with a pen and paper and jot down what would your perfect candidate look like. That is, what skills should the person have, character, work ethic and of course experience.
I particularly put a lot of emphasis on the character and work ethic description. Some people have the gift of leadership, others have the gift of administration while others are very good soldiers (the kind that follow orders very well, but don’t always have initiative).
In our chronic care management position, we knew that any nurse would not fit the bill. So we wrote down what were the character traits the person needed to fill this position like a glove.
Remember, you may not get it all in one person, but that is why this exercise is of value. Because by jotting all “wants” you start to get a better picture of the person you are looking for.
Create a Job Description
Then, you are ready to create a job description that goes beyond the regular blah, blah, blah of the common job description.
For example, for our chronic care coordinator position, we wanted somebody that had implemented something similar on their own, from scratch and little direction or oversight. Why? Because we never have had a position like this before, so we don’t know exactly what needs to be done. At that point, we only had the vision for the position.
Therefore the person not only had to be experienced in chronic care coordination, but also demonstrate the ability to implement processes and find answers to questions that we may not have, go the extra mile as well as embrace the position with the understanding that we wanted somebody to implement a vision
Our job description was worded to address that the person needed to have certain qualities.
Interview Process (Cross interview)
After advertising the job description, you’ll begin the interview process. In this process, I interview the candidate first. If I think they are good enough, I have them interview with 2 or 3 of my top staff members. It doesn’t matter if not all the interviewers work in the discipline the candidate works in. I’ll have a clinical RN interview a front desk position or vice-versa. The point of the exercise is for you to have a complete understanding of the candidate. An office manager may pick up different things from the interview than the MA will, for example.
By the way, I also wanted to share that doing the cross-interview process has also shed light on my employees’ ability to identify the better candidates. Some of them have surprised me with their knack to read candidates’ verbal and physical cues.
Meet with Providers
Then, I have the candidate interview with my providers. These are short interviews (20 minutes). If you have a lot of providers, this may not want to have them interview with all of them.
But having the candidate meet the provider and the provider meet the candidate is, I believe, an important part of the process. One additional piece that helps complete the puzzle.
The interview process is more about finding character traits than anything else. Of course experience is important, but we want know what the person is made of. Not how well they can talk up their resume.
Thus, the questions we ask the candidate are two-fold. One, does the candidate have the skills for the job that we outlined. And second, does the candidate have the character traits we want.
Here are 100 potential questions to help you get started:
After the interview process is complete, and we are in agreement the candidate is a strong candidate, we have the candidate perform a personality assessment test. This helps us identify personal characteristics that would otherwise be hidden in an interview settings.
We use a personality assesment test called DiSC. You can find it by going here: http://www.yourlifespath.com/
It is helpful if your entire staff has done the personality test because then you are able to identify where the candidate fits in. It also provides context. When I receive a candidates results, I see their placement and compare it to the rest of the employee’s results giving me a different kind of glimpse into the candidate’s personality.
Lastly, we have the candidate spend an entire day with the staff shadowing them. Naturally, if you are hiring an admin or manager, you are not going to have them sit with the triage nurse, but it would be beneficial for the candidate to sit with the front desk staff to see how they work, handle phone calls and treat patients among other things.
This phase also has several intentions. I’m looking for the type of questions the candiate is asking, how they are interacting with the staff and their demeanor (bored, interested, etc). This also gives an opportunity for the candidate to see the working conditions. It is one thing to say you like kids and it is an entirely different thing to work in a place where there are crying kids, temper tantrums, angry and frustrated parents all over.
This process takes a long time. And although you may have an urge to skip some steps because of the pressing need to fill the vacancy, I would encourage you to exercise extreme patience. I have to remind myself of this too. Especially when we are short staffed.
However, When we’ve rushed to place a warm body without doing the due diligence, we have regretted it almost every time.
The long process also test the patience of the candidate. Which can be very reveling as well.
Lastly, I’ll share that all my research in this regard has pointed me towards creating a comprehensive interviewing process that helps us identify who is truly the best candidate for the position. If you look at something like navy seal training, or anything that is high stakes, you’ll notice that they too have an arduous process. And the best companies are not exception to this.
What is your hiring process like? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned over the years ? Does your hiring process rock solid or does it need improvements. Explain it what what ways.