How to Assess New Practice Talent
Apply these five advanced recruiting tactics to ensure you hired the right person.
By Marie Czenko
The enduring success of a practice relies on the talent of its providers and support staff, both as a team and as individuals. Adding staff is especially challenging given today’s complex and competitive market dynamics. To properly vet and hire the right people, practices need to make a greater effort in assessing new talent, regularly stepping beyond the traditional approach of reviewing resumes, conducting in-person interviews, and checking references.
Once a practice finds what appears to be a good candidate, it’s time to apply these five advanced assessment tactics: communication, references, public image, immersion, and personal development.
Communication skills are vital in a cosmetic practice. It’s important to assess a candidate’s communication skills before meeting him or her in person. This can be done by conducting a 10-minute telephone interview and an email or private message interview.
A 10-minute telephone interview has one key goal: To give the prospective candidate the opportunity to credential him or herself—briefly. If a prospective hire can credential him or herself in 10 minutes on the phone with you, it’s likely the candidate can successfully credential your practice, providers, and procedures. Successful credentialing—especially over the telephone—can convert an inquiry into a consultation and a consultation into treatment.
During the brief telephone interview, ask these questions:
1. Do you have _____? (experience, interest, credentials, etc.)
2. How did you hear about us?
3. Why should we consider you for the position?
Articulate, thoughtful answers are an indicator to proceed with an email or private message interview. In today’s world, many individuals lack effective written communication skills despite having a polished resume. The goal of this interview is to assess a candidate’s writing skills, interest, and ability to follow directions. Limit the email interview to three to five questions, with the following directions: Answer each question in three sentences or less and send responses within two business days. Sample questions include:
1. Please define great patient service.
2. Please tell me what you believe _____ (dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, plastic surgery, etc.) offers an individual.
3. Please tell me how you define a team.
4. Please tell me how you would best support our team, our patients, and client expectations for quality care and a positive experience.
5. Please tell me your reward expectations for being part of our team and providing top-notch service to our patients.
Late, abbreviated, or poorly written responses are clues that you might not have a candidate with the professional communication skills you expect your practice to present. Responses with no punctuation, that lack grammatical structure, or that completely ignore the three-sentence directive also indicates that your candidate lacks communication skills and the ability to follow directions.
Requesting references is a customary practice to get statements regarding a candidate from those who know him or her professionally, personally, or both. Yet, what value is obtained from this when candidates refer you to individuals they know will give rave reviews? Offering greater value are specific background checks and screenings. When contemplating this route, consider the following:
• Practices are built on three precious things: private healthcare information, patient trust, and provider reputation. To invite someone into the practice with an unwillingness to take a random drug test or a reluctance to verify bankruptcy or other financial duress jeopardizes the security of the practice.
• Employees handle payments, including cash. Employees have access to controlled substances. Employees have access to sensitive patient information outside of HIPAA-required compliance. A practice should not rely solely on a few verbal references when determining whether a candidate is a good fit; investigating beyond those references is recommended to ensure knowing the history and potential risks of a candidate.
Before engaging or asking for any background check, first understand the laws in your state (and possibly municipality) about employee background checks. Contacting your attorney is the best first step when considering drug testing or financial disclosure.
Social media is everywhere, and it can reveal another side of a candidate. While it may seem intrusive to view someone’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account or to conduct a Google search on someone, it’s a vital step in understanding more about the individual. Today’s job hunters know companies and potential employers search online profiles during the hiring process.
While offensive or taboo posts are obviously red flags, not-so-obvious profile markers can offer great insight into a candidate. Take the below traits for instance:
• Posts regularly made in the wee morning hours. How will someone who does not sleep regularly perform in a medical office?
• Excessive posts. Does the individual lack personal attention or have a need to seek attention? Will the individual be able to focus on the job and put the phone away as necessary?
• Comments to others and responds to received comments. Is this a communicator who likes to interact with others?
• Acts appropriately in terms of community rules. Will the individual respect your rules, practice culture, and community?
An added value gained by reviewing the public image of your candidate is that it can provide you with a glimpse into how the individual will contribute to your social media efforts and public image. It takes a team to make social media efforts successful today, and practices can lose their competitive edge without a strong, robust presence.
To truly assess candidates, immerse them into a busy day at the practice. Candidates should shadow someone who holds the position they seek to fill, as well as others who hold different positions in the practice. It is not possible to be va aluable member of the team unless one knows what every team member is trained in, executes, and contributes to the practice. Equally, the team will want to get to know prospective candidates before hires are made official.
Below is what to look for during the shadowing process:
• The candidate who shadows quietly without asking questions. How will this individual grow, learn, and thrive?
• The candidate who critiques tasks or procedures at the practice. Is this individual coachable? How will he or she assimilate to the team?
• The candidate who engages others. Is the engagement timed appropriately, positioned appropriately, and does it bring value to the practice or the relationship among individuals?
• The candidate who is eager and grateful for the opportunity. This individual is serious about finding the right fit and does not make decisions impulsively.
After the immersion, you, the candidates, and your team should collect thoughts and observations and set time aside to hold a structured recap and assessment of the shadowing experience.
When recruiting, most practices look for the candidate they need today. Meanwhile, they often overlook searching for someone who might be needed in the future. During the hiring process, ask candidates about future aspirations, because upward mobility should always be a possibility within the practice. Keep in mind the following:
• The candidate without future aspirations is just passing through your practice
• The candidate with high wide-ranging aspirations may be difficult to manage
If your goal is to build, maintain, or grow a successful practice, you need candidates who can grow with you. Before making an offer to someone, assess the opportunities that the individual sees for his or her future and whether they are achievable, consistent with the experience the practice can offer, and valuable to practice success.
Time and Commitment
While these five tactics may seem daunting, without them you might miss the opportunity to make a fantastic hire. Instead, you will simply be filling a chair or slot on the team. You can do better if you take the time and make the commitment to fully assess talent and build the right team.
Marie Czenko is a management consultant with the Allergan Practice Consulting Group of Allergan, PLC. She consults with medical aesthetic practices in financial analysis, practice valuations, human resource issues, internal and external marketing, and more.