Healthcare Structured Behavioral Interviewing 101

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Medical team giving a structured behavioral interview to a job candidateHealthcare is patient-centered work, and job candidates must be able to demonstrate their abilities to interact positively with patients, no matter the job title or duties. On the flip side, talent management professionals must have the tools to thoroughly evaluate potential hires, not only to conduct a fair hiring process but also to select candidates who will have longevity and consistently deliver in their roles. Structured behavioral interviewing is one of the most beneficial ways to assess healthcare applicants.

How Does Structured Behavioral Interviewing Apply to Healthcare?

“An effective structured behavioral interview begins with the identification of the key competencies needed in the job under consideration,” says Dr. Frederick Morgeson, HealthcareSource scientific advisor.

In healthcare, some of the most important competencies include:

  • Providing patient-centered care
  • Respecting patients’ differences, preferences, and values
  • Using evidenced-based practice
  • Cooperating, communicating, and collaborating in interdisciplinary teams
  • Understanding basic principles of safety

Behavioral assessments help to evaluate candidates on these competencies and more, including competencies directly related to the job in question. These results provide incredible insight into candidates’ character, composure, and commitment, far beyond the information a resume could provide.

Structured behavioral interviewing will take things one step further so you can truly determine if a job candidate is capable of all the job entails, if the job will mesh well with their abilities, and if there is a cultural fit. The hire you seek needs to fit the job description and your organization. Ideally, structured behavioral interviewing makes it possible to identify the most qualified and dedicated healthcare hires.

The Basics of Structured Behavioral Interviewing

Consistency is key when it comes to behavioral interviewing. Amanda Morris, employment director for Samaritan Health Services, highlights the ways her organization uses healthcare behavioral assessment software to guide the interview process:

  • Training managers use the behavioral assessment for every interview.
  • Assessments are reviewed prior to every interview.
  • Behavioral questions are included even if the candidate does not score low in any of the competencies.
  • Managers hone in on which areas to explore in the interview through the assessment results.
  • Follow-up questions for any areas with low scores are included in the interview.

Morris’ team also uses the behavioral assessment to help form the overall picture of the candidate. “If a candidate has a poor reference assessment, we will review the behavioral assessment again to see if the areas that are low in the reference assessment are also low in the behavioral assessment,” says Morris. “This process really forces the manager to look at the candidate as a whole and to take into consideration whether they have the ability to effectively uphold our values and carry out our mission as an organization.”

The Benefits of Structured Behavioral Interviewing in Healthcare

Healthcare does not happen in a bubble, and you want to build successful teams dedicated to your organization’s mission. Leaders must work well with subordinates, and vice versa. Subordinates must all work well together to achieve common goals. From work ethic to energy level to opinions about overtime, it is critical for healthcare teams to gel in behaviors and not just in abilities.

You don’t want to create an environment of group-think, but you do want to develop a team that works together to reach the same end, encourages ideas, picks up the slack when necessary, and goes above and beyond to consistently deliver on the patient-centered approach to healthcare.

Behavioral assessments and structured interviews provide invaluable insight into a person’s inner workings and their ability to strengthen a team. For example, perhaps you are hiring for the new labor and delivery wing of a hospital. While it would be nice to think that all L&D nurses are well-suited for this position, seeing L&D on their resume is not enough to qualify them. The disposition of some nurses will be better suited for the labor area, which requires a firm hand but a gentle nature. Other nurses may be a better fit for the recovery department of L&D, where patience with nervous new parents is necessary. And still other candidates may be better suited in another department, or they may be earmarked for future leadership roles.

The ability to be firm when necessary, kind at all times, and to be compassionate but not overly involved is just one example of behavioral discrepancies that can exist between job candidates with same clinical skills. Structured behavioral interviews help you look at the whole person and their approach to the work they do.

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Elizabeth Weiss

About Elizabeth Weiss

Elizabeth Weiss is a freelance writer and web content specialist. Her bread and butter is crafting web pages and blog posts for professional clients, but her feature articles have also appeared in Forbes, Marie Claire, Avvo, and other print and online publications. She lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her husband and two children and is often surrounded by Legos, dark chocolate, and library books. Learn more about Elizabeth at WeissWords.com.