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Use Employee Assessments or Be Left with the Worst Candidates?

June 14, 2017

stress at work

We recently had an interesting discussion with the Director of Talent Acquisition of a large academic medical center who disclosed why the system has adopted a more evidence-based approach to hiring, including the use of healthcare-specific behavioral assessmentsHer realization (paraphrased below) moved the Talent Acquisition team to start looking for a more effective way to screen applicants so they could identify those most likely to be top performers.

We are in a large metropolitan city competing for talent with several other large systems. We weren’t thrilled with the quality of applicants we were attracting. We eventually realized that while we certainly had to improve our ability to attract good applicants, we had another problem: our competitors were using tools to evaluate candidate behavioral skills and screening out those who scored poorly. Basically, after failing these tests at our competitors, they were coming to us!

How did this Talent Acquisition team create a structured hiring process?

First, they defined the specific behavioral traits they were looking for. Then, they designed a deliberate, consistent, and fair selection process to evaluate candidates, including the following:

1. An effective application process

2. A phone screen by recruiters

3. A structured, effective hiring manager interviewing program
(Read: Why Hiring Managers Need Interview Training)

4. Validated, healthcare-specific behavioral assessments targeting the defined behavioral competencies

Note: The specific processes vary based on job family because of differences in candidate pool and selection ratio, of course. Similarly, there are healthcare hiring tools that are better for selecting senior leaders, nurses, physicians, and front-line staff.

Implementing a process and structure was an adjustment for some individuals in the organization. Some hiring managers pushed back on what felt like decreased autonomy. Others needed to see data demonstrating that the new process worked – that it reduced turnover, improved hiring efficiency, and actually identified the stronger candidates.

Related: 6 Tips for Designing a Hospital-Wide Behavioral Competency Model 
Eventually, rather than casting a wide net and picking candidates by feel or gut instinct, they grasped the idea of evidence-based hiring, as it’s better to bring as much objectivity to the process as possible. Of course, it’s critically important to create good branding for your organization to attract candidates and to ensure the best candidate experience. And, when combining evidence-based hiring with branding and a positive candidate experience, the talent acquisition team has a substantive impact on helping the organization to fulfill its mission.

The shift to a more evidence-based approach to hiring is part of an important, larger trend. The traditional healthcare workforce and our talent acquisition strategies weren’t built for the changing healthcare climate, so we need new skills and competencies at every level of the organization. Learn how to create a strategic, evidence-based approach to hiring in our free guide.

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.