Finding Hire Love

October 30, 2007
Nick Fabrizio

During a recent consulting engagement, a physician told me countless stories about interviewing and training staff.

During a recent consulting engagement, a physician told me countless stories about interviewing and training staff. She spends a lot of time on it; indeed, her practice has had significant turnover, especially in the billing office.

To find out why, I asked three questions:

  • Does the practice have an office manager, and what is her role in the hiring process?

Yes, the office does have an office manager who contracts with a temporary staffing agency to help with the recruitment process. So far, so good.

  • When was the last time the practice performed a staff position salary and benefits comparison with other practices in the community?

Some digging around revealed that this practice was paying its billing staff 15 percent less than surrounding offices. This is a problem. To stay competitive and keep your employees, make sure your pay rates are within 5 percent of comparable practices in your area. Your benefits package should also be competitive. For example, if your salary range is in step with other local practices but you offer fewer vacation days than your competitors, and your health insurance premiums cost employees $50 more than the practice down the street, this could cause your staff to start looking elsewhere for employment. Failure to do this sort of comparison will also cause you to attract those who are eager for a job but not committed to the long-term.

  • What is the practice's interview process?

This practice's interviewing tactics also warranted some improvement. Checking references is one of the easiest tasks in the interview process; it's also the most time-consuming. This office had the temporary agency handle the reference checks. This is in fact a conflict of interest, as the primary task of a temporary agency is to place candidates. Certainly, a temporary staffing agency is not going to have the same standards you do for finding qualified employees. Make sure you check very thoroughly on a job candidate's attendance, performance, and interaction style with previous employers.

Also, you need a sound interview process led by your office manager. This person should take the primary role in setting up the interview and getting all of the paperwork together for the pre- and post-interview process. Providers should have a role in interviewing and evaluating candidates.

Note that the interview process is very costly, so you need to make sure that you cover the basics in the process.

Nick Fabrizio, PhD, FACHE, FACMPE,

is a senior consultant with the Medical Group Management Association, specializing in operations, organization, strategic planning, governance, and customer service. Previously, he worked as a practice administrator for more than 10 years. He also worked with a community hospital, managing their ambulatory practices. He has worked for clients in primary and specialty care, hospital-managed physician practices, and integrated delivery systems. He also serves on the faculty at Cornell University in the graduate program in Health Administration. Dr. Fabrizio can be reached at nfabrizio@mgma.com.