Three Ways to Keep Physician Candidates Interested

September 30, 2014

Don't stop your physician search too early. It's critical to keep back-up physicians interested while you wait to see if your first choice pans out.

Throughout my recruiting career, I’ve worked with practice managers who have asked me to put a “hold” on the physician recruiting process as soon as they feel they've attracted a great physician candidate to their practice. They feel that the search is over because this great provider has signed an offer letter and has agreed to start in two weeks. 

Then that unexpected call comes in and the physician says, “Thank you so much for your interest in me.  I was so excited about this job, but I just got another offer that’s too good to turn down.” 

This type of phone call can seriously harm a practice. The practice manager doesn't have any back-ups and is back at square one of the recruiting process. 

That's why it's critical for practices to keep back-up physicians interested in their practice while the practice waits to see if it's first-choice provider pans out. Here are a few smart strategies to use:

1. Stagger the interviews.  When you know you’re interviewing back-up physicians in case your first choice doesn’t stick around, separate their interviews by at least a few days, or even a week or two.  You can always cancel interviews that you set for after your new provider’s start date, once you’re comfortable that he is going to “stick.”  Additionally, you can have a multi-step interview process and space the meetings out by a week or so each.  This makes the process longer and buys you time, but also shows an impressive level of attention to detail and won’t make the candidate think you’re stalling (even when you are).

2.  Schedule an observation day.  This is an excellent way to add a lengthy step to your hiring process with the added bonus of being the most thorough way to screen a potential new provider. While it requires a big commitment on the part of the candidate (as well as your staff), this is the best way to show a provider what she can expect with your organization, while allowing you to see how truly interested she is. Few people will commit to spending an entire day interviewing for a role about which they’re not serious.  This can also provide a much-needed delay in the hiring process when you’re trying to juggle back-up physicians. Typically, it’s difficult to schedule shadow days, as you’re balancing the candidate’s calendar against your own. Afterward, you can also stall as you take the time to collect feedback from everyone the provider shadowed. 

3.  Review the interviewees.  Let the physicians know you’ll be sitting down with your team to thoroughly and carefully review all providers who interviewed and that you will be following up once all discussions are completed.  Give candidates an extended timeline and make sure to follow up when you say you will, even if that’s to inform the physicians you are off schedule because someone was out sick, you’re waiting for license verification results, etc. 

While these ideas can help buy you time while you wait to see if your first choice sticks around, these ideas also create a pipeline for your future needs.  If that new provider starts on time and works out so well you exceed your growth expectations, it’ll save you time, effort, and money to have a list of pre-screened physicians that you also liked, who might still be in the job market.