5 Common Hiring Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

At the 11th Annual Orthopedic, Spine and Pain-Management Driven ASC Conference in Chicago on June 14, Greg Zoch, partner and managing director at Kaye Bassman, shared five common hiring mistakes made by healthcare organizations and how to avoid them.

He began by explaining that hiring is both an art and science, and getting the right mix is important to an organization's success. "Often the best solution to a management or business problem is the right person," said Mr. Zoch. He then shared the five most common hiring mistakes companies make during the talent selection process.

1. Treating candidates like an applicant.
"Treating highly qualified candidates like an applicant is a turn off," and may make them look elsewhere, said Mr. Zoch. He encouraged providers to forgo legacy human resources practices and instead "try attracting first, screening later."

He then shared four things hiring managers do that make candidates feel like applicants.

  • You ask candidates to send a resume or fill out an application with little or no personal communication. Instead, managers should engage the candidate in a conversation about the organization and its goals first. "The best and brightest candidates are free agents that need to be courted," he said.
  • You talk about money in initial conversation. Money is usually not the primary motivator for a job change, so don't let money drive your decision from the start. Instead, focus on finding the best person for the job regardless of cost, said Mr. Zoch. You may not be able to come to an agreement on salary in some cases, but it is foolish to dismiss a top candidate too soon because of salary expectations.
  • You ask them why they want to leave their current employer. Many top performers may be interested in exploring new opportunities, but aren't actively seeking to leave their current role. Asking this question puts them on the defensive, he noted.
  • You tell them you have several other candidates to interview. "While this may be true…there's really no upside to tell a candidate you’re interviewing other people," said Mr. Zock. "What they hear is you're just one of many."

2. Waiting for the perfect candidate. "The enemy of good is perfect," said Mr. Zoch. "The perfect candidate probably doesn't exist." He urged managers to divide desired skills and traits into must-haves and want-to-haves and then understand that they may not get all the want-to-haves.

"Don't delay hiring in hopes that a perfect candidate will arrive," added Mr. Zoch.

3. Not acting quickly enough.
"Time kills all deals," said Mr. Zoch. "Taking too much time will kill a candidate's interest." He advised leaders to schedule interviews for final candidates within a few days of one another in order to limit the amount of time one candidate has to wait to hear back. He urged a final decision to be made within 24-48 hours after a candidate's interview.

4. Not communicating with the employees.
"No news is bad news," said Mr. Zoch. "Communication is critical to maintaining interest during the hiring process." He added that if candidates aren't kept in the loop with the status of decision making, they will assume you're not interested and "once that happens they’ll start losing interest too.

"Let them know yo'’re interested in moving forward; it's not a game," he said. Conversely, if you're not interested in a candidate, thank the person for his or her time and "let them know, 'you're not quite right for us,'" he added. "How you treat candidates will get back to the marketplace."

5. Being penny wise and pound foolish.
It's ok to have an idea of what you want to pay, but benchmarks represent pay for "someone in the middle of the pack…someone, well, average," said Mr. Zoch. You must be willing to pay a competitive salary to attract high-quality talent.

"A high quality person actually costs less [over time] than a low quality one," he cautioned. He also encouraged leaders to anticipate a counter offer from the candidate's current employer. "Ask yourself: 'Is my offer enough to withstand a counter offer?’'"

Mr. Zoch ended his presentation by encouraging hiring managers to follow what he calls "the platinum rule" during the hiring process. While the golden rule has you do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the platinum rule eliminates the assumption that everyone else wants what you want, he explained. "Treat others the way they want to be treated."

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