Great Job Candidate? Don't Be Too Quick to Extend the Offer

The urgent need to fill a position in a busy practice can sometimes cause employers to act hastily. Carefully thinking through the candidate's qualifications, having more than one round of interviews and doing proper background checks are vital components of a successful hiring process.

Over the course of my career as a recruiter for many large health care practices I've been involved in/counseled hundreds of clients. I can say without hesitation that the most successfully practices take the hiring process seriously. Take this "quiz" to evaluate your hiring style.

If faced with a seemingly "perfect" job candidate, what would you do?
(Check all that apply.)

  1. Hire immediately for fear the candidate may accept another offer
  2. Bring the candidate back for a second interview
  3. Verify the candidate's references before extending the offer
  4. Discuss the candidate with your colleagues
  5. Weigh the pros and cons to evaluate if he/she is right for the practice
  6. None of the above
  • (Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 should all be part of your hiring practice/are strongly recommended hiring practices.)

If you checked number 1, you may be in danger of making a bad hiring decision that will result in lost time, money and productivity in your practice. When presented with a strong job candidate—someone who seemingly meets all the requirements listed in the job description, offers experience that could add value to your practice or appears to be a good fit for other reasons—it may be tempting to save time and extend the offer right away. Here's why this is not a good practice for your practice.

happy group of medical staff in a practice

Why Employers Hire Too Quickly
Sure, the cost of finding, interviewing and training a new employee is considerable. But hiring mistakes are even more costly. Aside from the biggies—salary, benefits and taxes—consider the space, equipment and training a new employee may require. A new employee should be considered an important investment that will yield returns in time.

Employers tend to hire too quickly when there is an urgent need to fill a position (ie, an employee left without giving much notice). You may not want to burden fellow employees with additional work in the short term but rushing to get someone new hired can result in overlooking red flags.

Another mistake: Not taking the time necessary to evaluate carefully what you are looking for and determining the actual needs of the practice. It's important to nail down the details of a job description and hire the person who most closely fills those needs.

Staff vacancies can be opportunities to morph the available job into something different, but possibly better suited to the current needs of the practice. This is a good time to get input from others and change the job description if necessary.

How to Hire the Right Person for Your Practice
Using a multi-step approach to hiring will create a more organized and productive search. The interview process, as mentioned above, is a crucial step that should be taken seriously.  

Identify what you need and lay out a detailed job description that gives specifics about job responsibilities.

  • What type of candidate do you need?
  • Are you looking for someone with a lot of experience, a mid-career sort of person or a recent college grad who will learn on the job?
  • What personality type will fit best with your office culture?
  • An outgoing, funny person or someone less sociable?
  • Consider the necessary skills and education needed to fill the responsibilities.

Review resumes and set up initial interviews for the most qualified group. Carefully consider the applicants. Review the resumes and invite a select group into the office for a first round of interviews. Inviting qualified applicants to more than one interview may sound like a waste of resources, but it is not. Look at the first interview as the first round; you are weeding out candidates who are not a good fit.

During the initial interview, try to get a sense of the person's character (does he or she seem to have values that align with yours?) and commitment to the position. If the candidate has a history of frequent job changes that may indicate a person who won't last very long. From the initial group, invite a small group to participate in a second interview.

What to cover in the second round. The best employees are often hired through a collaborative process, so it's a good idea to invite top candidates to meet with other physicians and managers at the practice. Your colleagues may think of scenarios that you didn't consider or ask important questions that hadn't occurred to you during the first round.

A second round of interviews also helps garner more opinions. It also provides an opportunity to observe how the candidate handles him/herself with different types of personalities. Involving others in the hiring process provides more input, which has the benefit of finding a person with a better chance of working out right from the start.

Always verify references and conduct background checks, regardless of how trustworthy the candidate appears. There are different types of background checks for state or national criminal activity. A national background check is recommended since it investigates criminal activity beyond the borders of the current state of residence. To gain a better understanding of the current background check process, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website ( If your practice is enlisting the help of a recruitment agency, be sure to ask what type of background checks they conduct, what company they use, and do your own due diligence to be sure they are reputable.

A candidate might appear great on paper and present well in person, but he/she still might not be the best person for the job. A background check can be very revealing and is important to protect your practice. You certainly don't want someone who was arrested for drug possession working in a medical office. In fact, you might decide through this process to have a zero-tolerance policy for people who have committed misdemeanors or felonies.

Some practices might opt to take a chance and hire someone who years ago, was charged with a misdemeanor, but have had a clean record since. Background checks are essential to protecting your practice and the people working in it. If you have a bad feeling about the results of the background check, you can rescind the job offer. You simply can't be too thorough when you are entrusting employees with the welfare of patients.

As for references, some experts recommend providing specifics and asking job candidates for the names and contact information of former bosses, peers or subordinates as they may be more likely to provide unbiased reports of character and job performance.

Compensation matters. For the best results, be sure the salary you are offering is competitive and the candidate is satisfied with the number.

Finally, make the offer. Details such as sick day policy, schedule flexibility, vacation time and other benefits should be put in writing in an official offer letter. Furthermore, be sure to give the candidate a date when the offer expires so as not to add to the delay in filling the position.

Extending an offer right away is never a good idea and can lead to frustration in the future. Understandably, the hiring process can be exhaustive and time-consuming but is a vital component to ensuring employee retention in the future.

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Updated on: 09/22/16
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