5 Steps to Hiring a Rock Star Staff

It is never easy to go through the process of recruiting and hiring for open positions. Whether it is due to turnover or growth, choosing someone to work in your practice is an important decision. Each addition to your staff changes the dynamics of the team. With the right process, you will be able to recruit like a pro, hire the right person for the job, strengthen your staff and improve your workflow. Here are 5 steps to ensure that takes place…

Step 1: Determine Your Needs

Generally, recruiting for a position starts with looking for someone who can tackle the tasks listed in a job description. Rather than recruiting based on the job title, consider the strengths and weaknesses of the rest of the team to create a better understanding of what you actually need. Taking this extra step may change the specific skills, the level of experience and, perhaps, even the type of personality that will be needed to fill the position.

Key questions prior to beginning the recruitment process:

  • Am I prepared to take on a candidate with little or no experience?
  • If so, given the daily workflow, is there a staff member who will be able to properly train the new hire?
  • If not, how much experience should I require based on the background and experience of the current staff?
  • What is the current team lacking that a new hire may help with?
  • What personality type will best fit with my goals/practice culture?
  • How many years of experience are required?
  • What are the must have’s? (e.g., strong knowledge of insurance plans)
  • What is the preferred background of the employee? (e.g., those with Greenway EMR strongly preferred)
  • What are the key personality traits? (e.g., self-starter, organized, ability to multitask)
  • What is the salary range and benefit package?
  • What is needed to apply for the position? (e.g., resume in MS Word format, electronic cover letter)

Step 2: Utilizing Recruitment Tools

There are numerous ways to recruit for an open position. Job boards such as Monster.com and Indeed.com are very popular. They come at a moderate price point and can be very effective recruitment tools. Utilizing these sites will provide a wealth of resumes, perhaps an overwhelming wealth. Taking a few minutes to plan for handling the recruitment results will save time and space (so the endless amount of paper doesn’t clutter your desk). Setting up a separate (free) email specifically for recruiting purposes through services such as gmail.com can be a great help in organizing resumes and keeping your main email inbox clutter free.

Another recruitment tool that is often overlooked is to utilize the knowledge and connections of those around you. Pharmaceutical representatives, for example, are often the best headhunters. These allies are in numerous offices, know the staff and have tremendous insight to who may be looking to change positions. Generally, they will also be targeting offices that are in your area of practice, so this can be especially helpful if you are looking for those with experience in your specialty.

Remember, recruiting the best people in their field is a two-way street; it’s not only about you wanting the candidate, it’s about them wanting to work for your practice. Ads can be instrumental in bridging this gap. While it is important to note the level of experience and skillset required, creating an ad should reflect the pride in your practice and highlight why candidates should be excited at the prospect of working there. Use strong language (e.g., leaders in our field) and be strategic with ad placements (e.g., local newspapers).

Step 3: Reviewing a Resume

The first impression of a candidate starts with the resume. Obviously, the skills and past accomplishments are important. However, it is essential to take note of spelling and formatting errors, too. They speak volumes about attention to detail, written communication skills and work ethic.

The creation of a resume does not have a deadline attached to it. Therefore, candidates have as much time as they need to develop it and have others review it before submitting it. There is no excuse for typographical errors, careless formatting and misspelled words. If candidates don’t care enough to proofread their resumes to get the job, why would they care to check their work once you hire them? Give yourself permission to be critical about the details of the resume. Past actions predict future behavior. Mistakes on the resume mean more mistakes are yet to come.

Also, take note of past employment. Does their work history indicate they move onto new positions every few months? If so, ask why if you choose to interview them.

Step 4: The Interview Process

Telephone Interviews

While it seems like an extra step, conducting a brief telephone interview provides an opportunity to save valuable time. You can weed out candidates who don’t meet the basic needs of your practice. Key questions should cover schedule, salary expectations and any concerns that were noticed on the initial review of the resume. Examples:

  • Are there any restrictions to working two evenings per week?
  • What is the salary range you are looking for?
  • It seems like you weren’t at X company for very long. Why did you leave that position?

Another reason for a brief telephone interview is to get a sense of the candidate’s telephone personality. Regardless of the position, chances are he/she will be required to have some telephone communications with patients. Evaluate tone and speech patterns. Is the tone upbeat? Does this person speak clearly? Does his/her personality come through?

If the answers to some of these basic questions don’t meet your needs, there is no point in moving towards an in-person interview.

In-person Interviews

By now, candidates should have passed several tests in order to win an interview. While you should provide them with an overview of the practice and the goals for the position, it is their job to do the talking first. Ask open-ended questions and allow the candidate to speak as much as possible. Keep an 80/20 rule in mind where you only do 20 percent of the talking. You should ask three or four standard questions to each candidate in order to compare answers. You should also have more specific questions prepared to match experience and background.

Some examples to consider:

  • Why are you leaving your current position? (Press for specific issues, if possible)
  • What do you already know about our practice? (Good candidates come prepared)
  • What is your favorite thing about your current position? (Helps to determine if the potential position will involve this area)
  • What are your goals for the next five years? (Helps to determine longevity and staying power)
  • Why are you the best person for this position? Give me an example of what you have done in your employment history to support your reasoning.

Step 5: Reference Checks

You’ve found your match! After working through all of the steps, you are confident you have found the right person for the position. The value of checking references really is dependent upon which references you have been given. Just because there is a list provided to you of those willing to speak on the candidate’s behalf, it does not mean you must accept that list. Personal friends, co-workers and high school gym teachers are not likely to give you a true picture of what you need to know. When needed, challenge the candidate by requiring a list of professional references that include at least two physicians and one or two managers. While legally the only information an employment reference should provide is confirmation of position and dates of service, most employers who were happy with their staff members and wish them well will have no problem expanding on those areas.

Recruitment and hiring is a commitment and requires a significant amount of time when done correctly. When the process is not followed, the result is generally a higher turnover rate with a perpetual hiring and training cycle in place. This weakens the team and prevents the business from growing. Conversely, the reward of placing the right people in the right positions is a strong, well-balanced team that will help to improve your practice and provide a better experience for your patients.

If following the process yourself is too daunting of a task, consider utilizing a team of professional healthcare consultants and recruiters to perform the majority of the work for you. It may cost a little more, but the results will be faster and less stressful overall. Either way, building a strong infrastructure for your practice is key to driving a successful practice and is well worth the efforts involved.


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