Conducting an effective interview may seem pretty straightforward, but without proper preparation, it can lead to costly hiring mistakes. Between onboarding and training expenses, severance packages, hiring a replacement and potential revenue loss due to poor patient experiences, a bad hire can cost healthcare organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Not to mention patient safety and hits to staff morale.

Hiring the right talent starts with implementing intelligent, consistent interview techniques. Winging it just won’t cut it in today’s highly competitive recruitment landscape. Instead, leverage behavioral and competency-based interviewing techniques to truly evaluate whether or not a candidate will be a good fit for the role. After all, the right hire can drive profitability and forward momentum for your hospital or healthcare practice. 

And isn’t that the goal at the end of the day?

Here’s how to utilize effective interview techniques next time you sit down with a potential hire. 

Behavioral & Competency Interview Techniques

Competency and behavioral interview tactics both serve as a way to go beyond credentials on paper to gauge how a candidate performs when faced with specific situations. These techniques are based on the notion that an applicant’s previous performance is indicative of how they will behave in the future. 

The behavioral approach evaluates a candidate’s job-related skills, experience and personal attributes to determine their suitability for a role – including how they align culturally with the organization’s values. The competency approach, on the other hand, focuses entirely on the skills required for a specific position. 

To put the efficacy of these techniques into perspective, let’s say your facility is hiring a pediatric psychiatrist. For this role, it’s pivotal to identify candidates that possess soft skills like empathy, patience and the ability to listen. Why? Because you can teach technical skills or train a new hire on how to navigate EMR software, but it would be incredibly difficult (not to mention, time-consuming) to teach someone how to be understanding and compassionate. 

The goal of competency or behavioral-based interview questions is to uncover what type of skills or attributes a particular applicant possesses. In lieu of asking a candidate about hypothetical scenarios, questions should be specific, pointed and probing – requiring individuals to discuss how they actually handled certain situations. 

To paint a clearer picture, here are a few examples of behavioral-based interview questions:

  • Describe a time when you saw a problem and what actions you took to correct it.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to deal with a very upset patient or staff member.
  • Can you talk about a time when you had to embrace a new system, process, technology or way of thinking that was a major departure from how things were previously done?
  • Tell me about something that challenged you as a leader. Did this change your way of thinking? Did it improve your leadership abilities?
  • As a supervisor, describe a time you had to manage conflict between coworkers.
  • Give me an example of a time you encountered a stressful situation and how you coped with it. 
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake or overlooked a solution to a problem and learned from it. 

Depending on the candidate’s response, you may want to ask follow-up questions to gain further insight, such as:

  • What challenges did you come across?
  • What have you done as a result of this experience?
  • Why did you make that decision?
  • What role did you play in this situation?

A competency approach to interviewing will provide you with greater clarity around a candidate’s performance and attitude toward work. Speaking with SHRM, Barbara Bowes, president of the Legacy Bowes Group in Canada shares, “A competency is simply the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. In assessing competencies in the communications area, for example, an organization might evaluate a candidate’s proficiency at asking questions effectively, confronting conflict, telling stories, paraphrasing [and] presenting ideas with clarity.”

Here are some questions you can ask when leveraging a competency-based approach:

  • Give me an example of a time when you successfully persuaded others to accept your point of view. What was your approach? What was the outcome?
  • Can you share a specific situation where you had to encourage others to share their opinions or contribute ideas? What was the result? How did you get people to speak up?
  • Discuss a specific instance in which your communication skills directly impacted the outcome. What did you learn? How did you feel?

Final Thoughts

By utilizing these two interview techniques, you’ll effectively move beyond what’s already listed on a candidate’s resume to determine their skills, motivations, ability to perform in a particular role and whether or not they’re a good cultural fit. While speed is crucial in today’s war for talent, so is making the right hires. 

Here at Polaris, we’re helping hospitals and healthcare organizations drive revenue and improve patient outcomes through flexible, effective healthcare staffing solutions. In a time when healthcare workers are needed now more than ever, our team of recruitment experts can help your facility find the right talent through innovative and effective recruitment tactics. 
To learn more, contact the Polaris team today.