Tennis great Arthur Ashe once said, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” I like this quote because I think being “heroic” often means taking small steps to improve something for the greater good. Healthcare HR professionals spend a lot of their time taking small steps to benefit long term advancement for their organization. Something to consider focusing on: the interview process. Taking manageable steps to improve it should result in better hires, which will benefit your organization now and in the future.

Be a healthcare HR hero!

Dr. Frederick P. Morgeson, Ph.D, Michigan State University, recently wrote an article for Directions, published by the National Association for Health Care Recruitment (NAHCR). The article, entitled “Bringing Science & Technology to Hospital HR”, describes the consequences of healthcare HR’s poor selection decisions – in the age of HCAHPS scores, customer satisfactions scores, team morale and the general expectation of “doing more with less”, an “average” hire presents a long-term problem and expense. When organziations rely on traditional, unstructured interviews they risk hiring people who “interview well” but do not “perform well” over the long term. In order to avoid, “Who is this person and what happened to the person I interviewed!?” you may want to consider the following best-practice techniques:

    1. Behavior-based interview questions

    2. Multiple interviewers

    3. Following a standardized process

    4. Leverage helpful technology

Let’s look at the first best-practice methodology. Predeveloped behavior-based interview questions help the interviewer better predict potential job performance, focus the interview and obtain job-relevant information. Here’s an example question:

“Please describe a time when you went ‘beyond the call of duty’ to help someone else.”

    • What was the situation?

    • Exactly what did you do?

    • What motivated you to do this?

    • What was the outcome of your efforts?

Questions like these allow you to avoid closed-ended “yes or no” questions and questions that make the right answer too obvious for candidates.

Number two, multiple interviewers, encompasses the idea that traditional interviews are plagued by the single individual biases, which encourage “idiosyncratic and unreliable hiring decisions.” An effective interview process should include multiple evaluators — a mix of people in the job now (future peers) and supervisors of the role or similar positions. Peer interviewing facilitates new-hire retention and positive teamwork. However, to avoid inconsistency, it’s important to follow a standardized process. For our upcoming white paper on effective strategies for redesigning the interview process, the contributors and I discussed strategies for team interviews. The most important thing is standardizing as many elements as you can — asking the same questions for each applicant, using behavioral-based questions, having a consistent number of interviewers, and evaluating the answers according to the same standards.

It’s also critical to make sure everyone involved is trained on how to interview; creating an interview guide is essential. Adrienne Cozart, Vice President of Human Resources at UMC Health System, feels transparency through the interview process is especially valuable within a healthcare organization. “Consider posting your interview guide to your intranet along with policies, procedures, and sample questions.” This is a great way to make sure everyone is well-informed and serves as a reference point to avoid miscommunication throughout the process.

Lastly, leverage helpful technology. The ability to share and archive test results will only help you improve your interview process. It’s a way to “build organizational consensus and identify better candidates.” In our white paper on employee accountability, contributor Joann Kaminsky, Director of Human Resources at Uniontown Hospital, is using data gathered during the interview process to improve future hiring, “You can raise your standards in a systematic way. For example, by tracking employee performance against the aggregate behavioral assessment scores from HealthcareSource Staff Assessment (HSA) to find patterns of those who excel and those who do not, we hope to identify the characteristics and skills needed to succeed within our organization. Plus, with all this employee performance data consolidated, management can work with employees more easily to instill accountability.”

When it comes to larger ideas like achieving a better culture of greater employee accountability and being an HR hero, first you need to take small steps towards developing more efficient processes – perhaps it all starts with the interview.

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.