5 ways to improve your hiring process

It’s happened to everyone who makes hiring decisions. After a lengthy hiring process, a new team member shows up for the first day of work. But the new employee doesn’t seem to resemble the person you interviewed. The difference could be in appearance, attitude, aptitude or a combination of all three. It's disheartening to wonder, "Where did I go wrong in the interview process?"

Don't worry—it's possible to predict whether or not someone’s interview answers are representative of their future workplace performance. Following these five steps to improve the interview process can provide more certainty that new employees will fit in at your community, have a positive work ethic and show compassion towards residents.

1. Align the interview with the job description.

Involve the hiring managers in writing job descriptions to ensure the advertisement matches the position’s requirements and manager’s expectations. Go through each bullet point with the manager and make sure the position’s qualifications and responsibilities are accurately described. Don't go too far in describing the challenging or restrictive aspects of the position just to scare off anyone who is not the right fit. But don't "oversell" the position just to ensure a higher volume of candidates, either. Find the right balance with the job description, and you'll find the right person for the job.

2. Be consistent while looking for cultural fit.

Behavioral interview questions ask candidates to describe in detail how he or she acted in previous relevant situations. Past behavior should be considered the best predictor of future behavior. Such questions can be particularly helpful in evaluating whether or not a candidate will meet hiring managers’ expectations. For example, to evaluate whether an applicant is caring or compassionate, use this question outline:

Please describe your most rewarding experience helping others.

• What was the situation?

• Exactly what did you do?

• What motivated you to do this?

• What was the outcome of your efforts?

To avoid asking “yes or no” questions and questions that lead candidates to give you the answers you want to hear, Mark Wiersma, assessment division manager for HealthcareSource, recommends using the SAO method to obtain answers that demonstrate behaviors. The interviewer should take notes and listen for three components within the answer to the question: The situation (S) or task facing the applicant, the actions (A) the applicant took, and the outcome (O) of those actions.

Interviewing methods are most effective when executed with a consistent approach. This is especially true for team-based interviews to accommodate how different interviewers perceive the same candidate. Behavioral assessment software is available that provides structured interview guides for employers. These tools provide consistent questions designed to find the right personality and cultural fit for the position and for your organization and can be used to train your hiring managers on how to interview for behavioral competencies.

Using behavioral science-based assessments at the beginning of the hiring process may be the best way to pre-screen candidates before they are interviewed. This tool will provide managers with focus areas for the interview, a consistent approach and greater confidence in hiring the right candidate for the community.

“Consistency in the interview process is critical,” Wiersma says. “Using a structured interview process ensures that candidates will be asked job-related questions built around critical job competencies. Good questions mean good data.”

Jodi Weiss, senior recruiter at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, advises recruiters to “[base their] behavioral-based interviewing on the organizations’ culture and values. No matter how talented a candidate, it’s not a good match if he or she won’t fit in with the culture. After all, you can train someone who is the right culture fit, but the opposite is not true.”

3. Avoid common interviewing mistakes.

Five key errors often prevent healthcare organizations from hiring the best person for the job:

Undefined job expectations. If the job description is vague, screening and interview questions will not be effective.

Ignoring the rules. Hiring a candidate based solely on a “gut” feeling can be a mistake. A personal impression is important and shouldn’t be completely ignored, but using an interview guide and team interviewing will reinforce your choice of employee.

Lack of Education. Provide thorough training and support for hiring managers on how to use the interview guide.

Naivety. Don’t fall for the, “I want to get into healthcare to help people” response. Long-term care communities need to hire resident-focused individuals who also have the competencies to succeed—not just the desire.

Talking too much. Don’t spend more time speaking than the candidate. Hiring a candidate when the interviewer does most of the talking leads to inadequate hires.

4. Automate the interview process.

Applicant tracking software can automatically manage much of the information and processes that were handled manually in the past. This includes matching applicants to jobs and responding to candidates. These systems also help ensure that promising applications are properly routed to hiring managers, while creating task alerts, follow-through reminders and feedback avenues.

To make the interview process more efficient, train hiring managers on the interview process you’ve developed and provide them with standardized feedback forms to make it easier for everyone involved.  

You can also use the software to create a library of worthwhile data, including candidate records, to make sure your hiring managers are well informed throughout the interview process.

Interviewing and hiring for long-term care involves many steps. Removing the hassle of a manual process is critical to making things more efficient. By tapping into new HR technology, long-term care communities can improve the interviewing process and better position themselves as an employer of choice, even if they don’t have a large HR department.

5. Multiply the impact of team interviews.

Team interviews can help evaluate a candidate’s qualifications and fit for a role, but their effectiveness depends on how well you prepare and support the interviewers. Peer interviewing also builds employee engagement. Candidates are more likely to take the advice of potential coworkers, especially those in a similar role, more seriously than upper management. If candidates meet the team they'll be working with ahead of time and are still interested in the role, it's a great indication that they'll be a good fit for the community.

Just make sure peer interviews are conducted in a consistent manner. “It’s important to train new hiring managers and relevant staff on the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of interviewing by providing them with an interview guide ahead of time so they can review and adjust it to fit their needs,” advises Cathy Benson, director of employment and recruitment at Spartanburg Regional, Spartanburg, S.C.

Successful long-term care professionals employ interview strategies that are built around their unique culture, such as job descriptions that reflect each position’s requirements. This helps attract new hires that will be successful in their organization. Ensuring consistency during each step of the interviewing process helps make the process more efficient and imparts a positive impression on candidates.

The concepts outlined in this article are important steps towards improvement, but there are always new steps to take. Harness all the tools at your disposal to ensure the best results.

Rebecca McNeil is marketing manager at HealthcareSource (Woburn, Mass.), a provider of healthcare talent management software. She is the writer and editor of Healthcare Talent Management, a blog for healthcare HR professionals and the co-host of Just in Time Education, a podcast from HealthcareSource and LEAN Human Capital that focuses on healthcare recruitment issues. She can be reached at education@healthcaresource.com

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