There have been a number of articles recently about hiring right for a medical practice. In general, the advice picks up too late in the process to have a material effect on the success of any hiring decision. The critical first steps are to determine the appropriate elements of the job and the ideal personality type that will find it rewarding. The time you spend at the front end of the hiring process will both save time later in the process and improve the likelihood of a successful hire.
Elements of the job
These are easier to determine when you are hiring a replacement for an existing position. The incumbent, staff members, and management have actually seen the position in operation. A new position is more difficult to staff because it requires forethought on how the position will function in your practice.
I am advocating that you go below the description of duties found in the typical job description. Start at the operational, as opposed to the functional, level of the job. What specific activities are required to successfully perform this job in your particular environment? How does the work flow?
Work from the bottom up instead of the top down. If your result does not match the official job description the two will have to be reconciled, and that must be done before recruiting can begin.
When you begin to interview candidates you will be able to accurately describe the realities of the job; saving both you and the candidate from a bad decision.
You will always learn something with this job review. Not all work is being done as you thought. Some of it is useless, obsolete, and even wrong. The opportunity for small-cost, high-benefit operational changes will surprise you.
Here are some questions to ask the incumbent at a preliminary exit interview:
1. What is working well?
2. What is not working well?
3. What ideas do you have for improvement?
4. What have you enjoyed about this job?
5. What have you not liked?
6. What would you like to tell me that I may not know?
Your purpose in all of these questions is to gather information. Ask clarifying questions as necessary, but never be defensive or argumentative. Don't explain. Don't respond. Take it all in and think about it later. Respectful listening is not the same thing as agreement. It is not always easy. If you don't think you can manage the task, delegate it to someone you trust.
Everyone wants a high-energy person with a positive attitude. Unfortunately high-energy, positive people come with all kinds of personalities.
Do you want an introvert who likes relative quiet, complicated tasks, and at least some ability to separate from coworkers? Do you want an extrovert who thrives on lots of interaction with patients and coworkers and is comfortable with switching his attention at unpredictable intervals? Does it ever make sense to put a sensitive, shy person on the phones or at the front desk? What about a combative personality in those functions?
Filling a job with the appropriate personality is crucial to successful performance. Someone who thrives on lots of activity and variety will not do well relegated to a back room figuring out intricate regulatory requirements. A person who enjoys intricate puzzles that require focus will be miserable at the front desk.
The basic message is this: No matter how good your interview process and technique are, you are not likely to make a good hire without really knowing what it is you want.