How to Streamline Job Interviews at Your Practice

December 28, 2016

Thinking of adding a new person to your staff or just replacing someone who left? Take these six steps.

Independent physicians wear a variety of hats, sometimes including that of human resources director. Recruiting, training, and hiring new personnel takes time and planning. That's why it's imperative that you have a solid strategy when it's time to replace a staff member or add a new one, especially if you're operating a small practice.

The following six steps will help doctors and their administrative teams develop protocols that will help complete the vetting and interviewing process efficiently, effectively, and economically with every new hire.

1. Review and revise current policies, duties, and standards. It's common for the details of specific job responsibilities to become vague over time, especially if you haven't hired a new staff member for a while. Before you even post a new job opportunity, gather your executive group together (even if that's just you!) and evaluate the roles and responsibilities of each position within your practice. Determine if the job descriptions you previously crafted are still accurate and make amendments where you see fit. From there you can easily fine-tune the summary for the vacancy you're recruiting to fill.

2. Systematically screen applications. Because you'll likely be inundated with submissions, it's wise to create a series of screening guidelines to follow when the applications start rolling in. Remain objective by setting up no more than five asset categories. If it's a new physician you're recruiting, those categories could include topics like education, experience, specialties, references, and publications. This makes it possible to subsequently classify applicants as high-, moderate-, or low-probability potential employees. If, for example, a candidate has the education, experience, and specialization you're seeking but lacks quality references, they would fall short as an ideal contender for the vacant position.

3. Schedule ample time for interviews. It can be tempting to rush through one-on-one interviews. Keep in mind, though, that you'll soon be spending countless hours working beside one of the people you're meeting. That's why it's vital that you set aside enough time to get a fundamental idea of who the person is, how they'll augment your practice, and ways in which you'll complement each other's skill sets. Being in someone's company for an adequate amount of time during the interview allows you to listen to more than what they say. It also enables you to observe their body language and tap into your intuition about their demeanor.

4. Discuss your clinic's culture. Naturally, candidates will be sizing up you and your practice as much as you'll be evaluating them. While you'll always need to ask standard interview questions, you can go beyond a limited discussion by sharing a description of the culture they'll potentially be working in. Consider customizing a simple statement like, "Our practice is based on three vital guiding principles: We strive to be punctual. We are consistently respectful. We take professionalism seriously." Declaring your underlying philosophy in this way provides clarity about how you foresee working together for the greater good of your patients, your colleagues, and your practice.   

5. Develop a short list and perform second interviews. Now that you and your team have had the chance to review applications, interview candidates, check references, and discuss mutual expectations, it's time to create a short list and perform second, more in-depth interviews with potential hires. This is your opportunity to delve deeper into reviewing the mechanics and operating systems of your practice while learning more about the chosen applicants. For those you are seriously considering hiring, this is when you may want to show them around the community, provide tours of local healthcare centers, introduce them to your colleagues, or invite them to join you for a meal so you can connect on a social level.

6. Offer the position and welcome the person aboard. You made it! Selecting the perfect person for the position now allows you to offer them the job. Whether your new colleague is a fellow doctor, nurse practitioner, physician's assistant, or a member of your administrative team, prepare to welcome them warmly. Work with the rest of your group to create a schedule that allows time for the new hire to meet others, become familiar with their surroundings, review appointment and payment practices, and get to work.

Hiring new staff doesn't have to be stressful. By systematizing your search and creating guidelines for interviews, you can easily streamline the process.

Sue Jacques is a professionalism expert who specializes in medical and corporate civility. A veteran forensic medical investigator, Jacques is a keynote speaker, author, and consultant who helps people and practices prosper through professionalism. www.TheCivilityCEO.com