In the era of shortages and resignations, the process of hiring a new physician has become a more arduous task than ever before. To optimize recruitment dollars and strengthen outcomes, it’s imperative to structure candidate interviews in a manner that’ll produce your desired result – a.k.a. a signature on the dotted line of an employment contract. Here’s how to conduct an effective interview with a physician candidate to make a successful hire for your healthcare organization. 

Selecting Viable Candidates

To effectively strengthen the odds of making the right hire, carefully assess each candidate to determine their fit for both the requirements of the role as well as the culture of your practice. Generally speaking, your selection process with encompasses six main stages:

  • Finalizing the skills, responsibilities, certifications, etc. required for the position you’re seeking to fill. 
  • Reviewing the CVs of potential candidates. 
  • Conducting initial phone screenings.
  • Scheduling and conducting face-to-face interviews.
  • Performing post-interview analysis of potential candidates for hire. 
  • Facilitation of negotiations, contract signing, and initial onboarding. 

Reinvigorate The Phone Screening Process

The initial telephone interview provides you with an invaluable opportunity to accumulate further insights on an individual beyond their resume, form a cursory opinion of candidates, and ultimately determine who will advance to an in-person interview. To ensure you’ve touched on all the right points, be sure to leave the exchange with answers to the following questions:

  • What is the candidate looking for in a new role? What are their professional goals? It’s pivotal to gain an understanding of a candidate’s expectations – are they realistic? Do their goals align with your offering? As you’re describing the opportunity to your interviewee, is their demeanor positive and enthusiastic (or, conversely, hesitant and negative)? In a similar vein, if the candidate is leaving their current practice, what is prompting them to seek change? 
  • Does the applicant possess the qualifications you’re seeking? Will their clinical strengths complement the other staff within your facility?
  • From the candidate’s perspective, what is enticing about this role? Strive to uncover what specific factors appeal to each applicant – i.e. the size of the practice, the types of patients they’ll be interacting with, the location, etc.
  • Is the candidate flexible? Do they have certain requirements for the role? Always delve into a potential candidate’s expectations as they pertain to hours, call schedules, days off, and so on. This will give you a good indication of whether or not their desires align with the realities of the role. 
  • What is the candidate’s availability? When will they be able to start if hired?

After you’ve completed phone screenings, narrow down your prospects, selecting three to five of the strongest contenders. Once chosen, extend an invitation for a face-to-face interview. 

And don’t forget: first impressions are everything. Was a candidate playing hard to get? Radiating apathy? Spewing ambiguous responses? Consider ruling out any applicants that left a sour taste in your mouth – it’s typically an indication that they’ll be a difficult employee or possess an unrealistic opinion of their value. At the end of the day, the individual you hire will have a direct impact on the patient experience, medical outcomes, and internal culture of your facility. Your team, patients, and community deserve nothing short of optimal attention and care. 

Bolster the Success of Your Interviews

Setting your interviews up for success starts with cultivating an environment that’s comfortable, conducive to open dialogue, and free from distractions. As you evaluate candidates, endeavor to create mini profiles on each prospect, identifying psychological and philosophical facets of their personalities in addition to their experiences and successes in the workplace.  

Here are some questions to help facilitate an effective conversation with potential hires:

  • What is the candidate looking for in a job opportunity? What are their aspirations both personally and professionally? Remember to explore a candidate’s aspirations as they pertain to the here and now, as well as in the future. Similarly, what factors do they find appealing? One individual may place greater value in having access to cutting-edge technology and diagnostic tools while another candidate may place compensation at the top of their list. 
  • Is the individual a leader or a follower? Did they assume a leadership role during their training or in a prior role? Are they involved in organized medicine? A follower is someone who will buy into your existing culture and leadership philosophy, while a leader will thrive in an environment where they can influence decisions and directly impact the direction of the organization. 
  • What is the candidate’s demeanor like? Are they confident? Are they a strong communicator? Does the candidate pose intelligent questions and demonstrate people skills?
  • Is the candidate ambitious? Uncovering this information is an integral part of understanding a person’s motivations. For instance, a candidate who wants to be at the forefront of clinical developments may wind up bored (and even resentful) of an opportunity with a more small-town practice. On the other hand, perhaps your organization offers management opportunities, is involved in ongoing research, or is affiliated with an academic center – these are all elements that an ambitious physician may find highly attractive. 
  • Is the interviewee civic-minded? Do they actively contribute to their community? Participate in a volunteer program? What are the candidate’s hobbies and personal interests? Don’t discount this facet of what a potential candidate has to offer, as their personal interests may align with a community program your practice facilitates or help drive more philanthropic pursuits for your organization. 
  • What factors will ultimately drive the candidate’s decision-making process? Factors that can influence a candidate’s decision include professional (academia, large group, etc.), geographic (family, culture, urban/suburban), and economic (long-term employment, cost of living, income) elements. Understanding which factors a candidate would prioritize and why will help you gain a better picture of what’s important to them and whether or not your opportunity can support those needs. 

Once interviews are complete, review the information gathered with your team – assessing the strengths, weaknesses, and alignment between the needs and goals of your practice with what each candidate brings to the table. You’ll also want to perform your due diligence and verify references and credentials of short-listed candidates. From there, you’ll transition into the contract and negotiation phase of hiring before developing a finalized agreement with the selected candidate. 

A Multi-Faceted Process Made Easy

It’s no secret: recruitment and hiring is a complex, multi-layered process that requires time, effort, and skill. Leaning on the expertise of healthcare recruitment specialists is an effective way to develop a sustainable and successful staffing strategy. A recruiting agency can help minimize costs associated with an unfilled position, quickly address coverage gaps, identify and source potential candidates, and, best of all, take on all payroll and benefit-related costs.

To discover how partnering with Polaris can help your organization attract high-level physicians, contact our team of specialists today.