How to Hire the Right Staff for Your Medical Practice

October 25, 2018
by Admin

In a fast, demanding medical environment, an empty position can devastate productivity.

Hiring an ill-fitting staff member further damages productivity. Never mind the precious time training a person who can’t complete the job correctly, doesn’t fit culture, or is mis-aligned with expectations…the wrong hire creates even more work for the senior members, and you have to repeat the process as soon as you decide to move on and scrap the wasted resources.

Here are 8 steps to hire the right staff member for your practice (and save your productivity)!

Define Your Requirements

Before you post the position or flip through resumes, stop and really think about the role. What are the skills, qualities and values your ideal candidate must possess?

Experience and education contribute to the candidate’s ability to perform the job correctly. Determine the minimum levels of education and experience applicants must possess. Consider whether you value experience and education equally. Would you feel comfortable with a HS graduate that has years of experience? What about a candidate with an MBA, but no experience in an office? A far common mistake many physicians/managers make is thinking they can get a cheaper hire by grabbing a candidate with less experience…and then not giving them the training resources/time to succeed. If you don’t have the time to train, you’ll pay more in lost resources than you ever will in paying the right person the right salary.

Some other qualities to consider:

  • Credentials – Are there any certifications you prefer? What are the certifications your candidate needs? Hiring mid-levels? Make sure you know what services they can render with the licensure they carry. Make sure you outline and find candidates that meet your technical requirements.

  • Work Ethic – Tailor the work ethic requirements to the specific office job. For example, a good medical office manager takes initiative and optimizes the office without additional prompting. Don’t oversell your office and set yourself up for disaster.

  • Personality – Look for mannerisms and personality traits that allow the applicant to perform the job well AND get along with other office employees. This is culture fit. Know your culture! Nourish it. Hire for it. Different positions will need different strengths so there is no one candidate for the entire office. Front desk needs to be able to multitask. Aesthetics/Patient Care Coordinators need those people and sales skills. Your scheduler should likely be a supporter and nurturer with some serious attention to detail.

  • Skill Set – Consider any other special skills you prefer in an applicant: customer service, Microsoft Office proficiency, etc. Are you hiring an MA with experience in plastics/derm? Have they been in a procedure room before? Does the RN you are hiring have experience injecting?

The other aspect of defining requirements is laying that out for your candidates. Have a benefit sheet – do you offer health/live/vision/dental/STD/LTD/401K. Know your PTO/Vacation/Holiday policies. Know your hours and days for the role…and don’t tell them your spa is closed Saturdays if you’re thinking about opening your hours up in the next few months! Set the expectations right so you get candidates ready to take on whatever you throw at them because it is the right fit!

Create an Ideal Candidate

Meet with your hiring staff and describe your ideal candidate as if they were a real person. Invent hypothetical office situations (or use real events!) and consider how the candidate would respond. This all draws back to hiring for culture. Service probably comes first in your office. How can you ask the candidate about that and get a genuine answer…and “can I have an example of a time you gave good customer service,” doesn’t cut it.

Discuss how your ideal candidate would interact with patients and other staff and think about the administrative side too. Maybe bring your key players into the interview process down the line.

Consider the position from the ideal candidate’s perspective. Who would be interested in this job? Who would perform the duties well and find fulfillment? While the candidate should be perfect for the job, the job should also be a good fit for them.

Construct a Compelling Job Description

In the first two steps, you created a clear picture of the perfect applicant. Now, it’s time to take action.

Draft an attractive job description tailored to your target applicants. Do you want a self-starter? Include opportunities to develop independent office projects. Do you want a motivated achiever? Highlight opportunities for advancement and promotion. Your position offers unique benefits be it through your growth opportunities, benefits, culture, etc.

Include clear job requirements and expectations in the description. Ambiguous descriptions waste your time and the applicants’.

Assemble Challenging Interview Questions

Brainstorm questions that will help determine if the applicant possesses qualities you value (e.g. quick-thinking, outgoing, empathetic, effective negotiating, etc.)

After asking basic, ice-breaking questions, delve deeper with questions that reveal the applicant’s unique personality and interpersonal skills. These questions will also uncover the applicant’s goals and expectations for the job. Some tough interview questions include:

  • Why should we hire you?

  • Talk about a time when you disagreed with a coworker.

  • What’s your biggest career failure?

For more potential interview questions, Glassdoor compiled a list of questions from real applicants in the medical profession.

Keep in mind that you want to hire for technical and cultural fit so hit both categories!

Spread the Word

You have your ideal qualities, a compelling job description, and a list of revealing interview questions. Now, you need applicants to evaluate. Really think about whether or not you have the time and desire to run candidates yourself. If you use the usual suspects, you will be sifting through sandwich artist resumes…prepare yourself!

If you’re taking the DIY route…spread word to all available channels. Post on websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Health eCareers, even Craigslist! Let your family, friends, and colleagues know that you’re looking for qualified applicants – this is often where some of the best referrals come from.

Don’t want to waste the time? Hire a pro.

If your practice uses social media like Facebook, post your job opening. Your patients and followers may know interested individuals. The more places you reach, the higher probability that your opening will reach the eyes of the perfect applicant.

Interview in 2+ Rounds

Say it with me folks…hire slow, fire fast.

Once your application deadline passes, evaluate the applicants based on your criteria. Eliminate those applicants that lack essential skills, experience, or education. Don’t waste time interviewing unqualified individuals…cannot stress this enough. You do not want to save money with your people…they keep your business alive.

After you have eliminated the unfit applicants, conduct phone interviews. By first conducting phone interviews, you save time for both parties. Get an impression of the applicant’s manners, social skills, and enthusiasm about the position. While no applicant is perfect, eliminate those who contrast your ideal candidate in important ways.

When the phone interviews are complete, draft a list of the most qualified, fitting candidates. Invite these individuals to in-person interviews. Again, consider bringing in some of your key office players for feedback here.

Prepare to Compromise

Every candidate and job position is different. Your favorite, most qualified candidates may have concerns about the position, the compensation, the benefits, the hours, or any number of things. While too many concerns indicate that the candidate is ill-fitting, having a few concerns is perfectly reasonable.

Offer solutions to your best candidates’ reservations. While you cannot meet all demands, find a middle ground. Long term, reaching a compromise early increases job satisfaction and decreases the chance your new hire will leave.

Tailor additional benefits to the candidate. Entice them by offering educational benefits, flexible hours, discounts, or opportunity for advancement. Many extra benefits cost little, but garner appreciation from potential staff members.

Institute a Trial Period

Some candidates make a great impression and come with all necessary skills. When it comes time to do the job, however, they perform inadequately. They have a hidden temper, arrive late, or simply do not fit. Maybe they are performing well, but realize they hate the job.

Whatever the scenario, implement safeguards to protect your office from hiring a bad fit. Institute a trial period – this can be as short as two weeks or as long as six months. A trial period shelters your office from a bad hire and allows the candidate to evaluate their own fit within your office.

When the trial period ends, you’ll have a perfect new staff member for the office that understands the job and truly wants to be there.

Are you thinking I really don’t want to deal with this?

Find a staffing agency to work with. Saves you time and your time is money. Keep an eye on the mark up rates, hour requirements and guarantees. Many agencies have less than favorable contracts. Medical specific staffing agencies often have policies more tailored to meet your needs.

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