In today’s corporate world, everyone is over-scheduled, double booked, even triple-booked. A seasoned interviewer can manage to interview well on the fly and get the information needed to assess the candidate properly. For those of you who are not seasoned interviewers or for those who have never been trained in how to interview properly, the most valuable piece of advice I can give you is to seek evidence. Don’t just ask the typical interview questions like “where do you see yourself in five years?” or “what do you consider your biggest weakness?” With just a few tweaks to your interview practice, you can learn valuable and easily-missed information about a candidate.
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The question may be something as simple as: tell me about a time when you went above and beyond for a patient or for a patient’s family member. A candidate will often answer with something like, “I do this every day. It’s part of who I am. I am always going out of my way to make sure everyone has what they need.” When caught up in an interview, it is easy to let this answer slide as acceptable. Let’s look at two specific answers and decide which is more impressive.
Interviewer: Can you give me a concrete example of an action you performed that went above and beyond for a patient?
Candidate A: ”As an ED RN, I am pulled in a lot of directions at all times. Last week, I had an unusually high patient load and was finding it hard to manage. One of my patient’s visitors was noticeably cold. I took the time to go and get him a heated blanket.”
Candidate B: “I had a patient who I quickly realized was homeless. The patient had ruined all of his clothing. His medical condition was not one that was going to keep him at the hospital overnight, and it was a very cold evening. I really could not stand the thought of this man putting the soiled clothing back on and sending him back out into the cold. I called a few friends and co-workers with his approximate size and within a few hours, we had new clothing for him including a coat, hat, gloves, and boots.”
Trust, But Verify
If a candidate tells you that they are advanced or expert-level in a specific skill, make them prove it. How? Allow time in the interview to demonstrate. I often interview recruiter candidates who say they are expert level at Taleo or any other Applicant Tracking System. If I am lucky enough, I have access to the one of the systems that the candidate claims to have extensive experience with. I prepare for the interview in advance by creating a test candidate. Once we broach the subject of expertise level, I ask the candidate to complete various tasks in the system, which can quickly help me to determine the candidate’s skill level.
It is all too easy to be impressed by a resume. When I am looking for a seasoned hospital recruiter and I am reading a resume where the candidate states that they have 20 years of hospital recruitment, I have to contain my excitement. I have learned over the years not to assume that five, ten, or even 20 years of experience in an industry means that the candidate is a catch. During our interview, we ask the most basic of questions when interviewing a hospital recruiter. These questions have saved us headaches and time and money---all the things a bad hire costs us. When a nurse recruiter does not know the difference between a Level I and IV Trauma center or which unit has the lowest nurse to patient ratio, or what certifications an ED RN should possess, we have a “pass” on that candidate. At eHospitalHire, we only hire expert-level hospital recruiters. If a recruiter with three years of experience has not picked this knowledge up, it speaks volumes:
1. They have not been paying attention to the obvious.
2. They are not passionate about what they do.
3. They chose not to become an expert within their organization.
Hospitals need experts in the recruitment department. After all, how can a recruiter convey information about the ICU if they do not even know how acute that unit is? They can’t! The hospital employment process is made so much more difficult without an experienced recruiting team.
Check References Off the Record
When checking references, throw the form away and get personal. I have very rarely had a reference refuse to speak candidly about a candidate. Think about it. When asking the typical reference checking questions, one rarely gives honest, accurate answers. Start with…”I need a favor. We are seriously considering hiring Sally Fields into our recruiter position. I am hoping we can speak unofficially, off the record.” What next? My first question usually goes something like, “If you could hire Sally back today, would you?” I listen for how quickly they answer and their tone of voice. If there is hesitation, this usually means that you are not about to hire a rockstar.
Don’t give up. Probe. “I can hear the hesitation in your voice. I know it is difficult to not give someone a good reference, but I would be so grateful if we could speak openly. Can you tell me why you hesitate?” These types of questions lead to honest conversations. Sometimes I find out that a candidate thrives on causing drama and creating a toxic culture. On the flip side, I also am pleased when I connect with someone who speaks passionately about a candidate and wishes they were still working together. Listen for what the person is not saying, their tone of voice, and the time it takes them to answer a question. When I am asked about a previous employee whom I do not miss “at all,” I definitely hesitate when asked about their performance. And by the way, just because a person is “eligible” for rehire does not mean they left on good terms.
Judge the Resume
If you did not have time to look at the candidate’s resume before the interview, make sure to scrutinize it during the interview. The resume is a piece of information about the candidate and it should be judged for its quality of writing, as this can tell you about the candidate’s written communication skills. When evaluating a resume, understand that this is the “best foot forward” impression the candidate wishes to make. If there are grammatical/spelling errors in the resume, expect more errors in the future. If there are formatting issues, expect more. Expect a deteriorating level of any issues you see on the resume, as it’s reasonable to assume that this was their best effort. Once a new employee relaxes, we unfortunately do not receive their “best effort” in most cases.
Seeking evidence and verifying that the information you receive from a candidate will rarely steer you wrong. Do not allow your candidates to provide general answers – get specific! Test your candidates on the technology and software they claim to be experts with. Feel free to check references in the official capacity, but also check them off the record. Carefully review and judge the resume, as it will present you with the best-case-scenario if you choose to hire the candidate.
We hope that these tips will help you improve your interview process. SourceLync connects healthcare system employees with healthcare system recruiters to make the hospital employment process fast and efficient for both hospitals and candidates. Join SourceLync today to build a profile, browse hospitals, and so much more!