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Hiring for Healthcare Jobs: A Match Made in Heaven


Female manger interviewing a candidate for one of the practice's healthcare jobs | Vanguard Communications | Denver

Missteps in filling your medical practice healthcare jobs can cost you – time, money & patients

Hiring the right employee who meets the requirements in the job description is vital to the practice’s success. This blog will discuss the hiring process that has worked in other businesses and professions and is effective in the healthcare sector.

For the success of your practice, you must have high-quality, efficient and dedicated staff members. Someone not suited to your practice can create a negative impression among your patients and cause the morale of your staff to decline.

With today’s tight healthcare labor market (see our article on the Great Resignation) in most metropolitan communities, and competition from large hospitals and other industries offering higher salaries and more benefits, many smaller medical practices often have difficulty competing to fill their healthcare jobs.

Hiring staff members is a process that requires time and patience. Being in a hurry to hire someone to fill a vacancy and making the wrong decision can lead to expensive turnover.

Avoid employee turnover costs

Studies show that the average cost of turnover, whether you are correcting a hiring mistake or replacing a long-time employee, is one-and-a-half to two-times the salary of the worker you are losing. But turnover also brings hidden costs in addition to salary and benefits. The time it takes to do interviews, the overtime you pay others to pick up the slack, and the impact on the morale of your existing staff can wreak havoc with your practice.

The best way to find your candidates is through word of mouth. You might also consider using job-listing services at local schools, universities and professional organizations. There are many websites where you can post job opportunities, including free sites like Indeed or ZipRecruiter. These and others are favored by today’s tech savvy job seekers.

LinkedIn is also a useful method of attracting healthcare employees. There is no fee for posting a job description to reach top candidates. Employers can also proactively reach out via LinkedIn InMail and target those candidates with the experience they are looking for. Your practice should also evaluate data from past hiring efforts to determine if there is one source that consistently delivers top hires. If the data points to a clear winner, it would be wise to make sure that source is utilized in the future.

Pre-employment screening for healthcare jobs

Ask applicants to submit an electronic resume to your email address or through the job listing website. You might ask your office manager to screen the resumes and then call the most interesting applicants to schedule an interview. Many employers today utilize ATS (applicant tracking system) software to help them screen applicants, saving them time and money.

Your office manager should speak to each applicant personally if they call your office. This phone call is too important to be screened only by your receptionist. After the office manager or ATS has screened applicants and narrowed down the choices, the doctor should interview the finalists.

Talking with an applicant personally allows you to evaluate:

  • The applicant’s telephone manners.
  • The applicant’s curiosity about your practice.

You want an individual who exudes enthusiasm. If you do not sense vitality and enthusiasm in a phone conversation with the applicant, your patients will not either.

Resume & cover letter by healthcare job applicants

Ask the applicant to send a letter along with her or his resume. If a letter was submitted along with the resume via a job site, ask the applicant to send another letter to you. Suggest a topic for the letter. For example, you might suggest that the letter explain why the applicant wants the job, why the applicant is qualified for the job or how the applicant could enhance your practice. You might suggest that the letter also address a nonmedical topic, such as the applicant’s hobbies or last vacation.

This letter will serve several functions:

  • It allows you to see how quickly the applicant responds. In most medical practices, a speedy response can often be vital.
  • It allows you to analyze the applicant’s writing and spelling skills. Obviously, you do not want to hire someone who cannot spell correctly or compose a good letter. If the applicant is emailing the letter, this also allows you to evaluate “email etiquette” – an important feature because too many people fail to proofread or edit before they hit the send button!
  • Finally, a written letter will frequently reveal something about the applicant that is not available in their resume.

WARNING: The value of a good letter, and to some extent even a good resume, has been much reduced with the advent of ChatGPT. I recommend that you inform the applicant that you prohibit the use of ChatGPT or other such AI writing tools in the requested letter.

In reality, you will likely not be able to tell if AI was used or not in the letter received. This is another reason why the interview is so important.

Healthcare jobs interview process

Your healthcare jobs interview process will be more productive if you allow applicants to prepare. Before an interview, send the applicant information about the practice. If the information is contained in the careers section of your website, send them a link to that section.

If you have a specialty practice, you may want to send information on what you do, what kinds of patients you see and typical situations the employee might encounter. I am impressed when applicants demonstrate that they have read this information or have visited the practice’s website and are curious about the practice.

At the time of the office visit, consider providing the candidate with a written list of questions the interviewer will be asking. The first few minutes of the interview can be used to break the ice. For example, you might tell the candidate about yourself, your practice and the job description.

Throw in a curveball question

You might consider asking “curveball” questions. At least once during the interview, ask the candidate a difficult-to-answer question. In many healthcare jobs, circumstances often require the staffer to think and respond quickly. Failure to react quickly can adversely affect the health of patients and might even lead to litigation.

If the candidate has worked in a medical office or has healthcare experience, you might ask questions such as, “What would you do if a patient called with a medical emergency and the physician couldn’t be reached or located immediately?”

Give a potential hire a “homework assignment.” In addition to the curveball questions requiring immediate answers, we suggest you present each applicant with a more complicated problem and allow them time to work on the response after the interview, specifying that AI not be used to generate the response.

For example, you may ask the applicant to propose a solution to a problem at the practice. How quickly the applicant responds to this homework assignment tells you a lot about the applicant’s creative problem-solving abilities and the strength of the applicant’s desire to get the job.

Encourage the applicants to ask questions. You want to hire people who are both curious and not easily intimidated. For instance, if an applicant’s only question is about the salary or vacation pay, that would be a clue to their priorities.

Job references, background check & follow-up

There’s an unwritten rule regarding references: Do not give references out, but do not hire without them. Many employers will make the mistake of calling the previous employer without any introduction and expect the previous employer to reveal the applicant’s employment history. You can obtain information on an applicant through a background check (with proper authorization from the applicant).

A method of obtaining an accurate reference is to ask the applicant to sign a release-of-information letter and email it to their previous employers before your call.

Pay attention to follow-up. Did the applicants return your phone calls promptly? Did they send you thank-you notes/emails after their interviews? More importantly, the courtesies and manners they extend to you will be a barometer of how they treat your patients.

Bottom line on healthcare job hiring

Although the hiring process is time-consuming and stressful, it is essential for creating an excellent practice where outstanding service is provided by both the doctor and the staff. The expense incurred taking the time to hire the right employee is much less than the high cost associated with employee turnover.

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Vanguard offers a wealth of personnel and management advice for practice owners and managers. And our MedAmorphosis program drills down into your operations to solve practice efficiency issues.

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