Organizations in the healthcare industry are often faced with the need to hire employees quickly. This practice may result from time and financial pressures, an inadequate selection pool, or a belief that employees can be molded or trained to do what the organization wants after being hired. Under such pressures, health centers and clinics are often challenged to pay adequate attention to the interpersonal skills of prospective employees, which can impact overall patient experience.
The phrase, “hire for attitude, train for skill,” has some truth to it in that it points to the important role attitude plays in jobs at every level. As a recruiter at Sonora Regional Medical Center said, “Most anyone can learn how to perform a clinical function. But you cannot teach attitude. You cannot teach commitment. And you can’t teach compassion”.
Who are the right employees in an integrated primary care and behavioral health setting? The right employees are those who are highly interpersonally skilled, and have a belief system that skilled communication and other customer service behaviors are important. Organizations interested in building a culture that prioritizes patient experience will seek out employees at all levels who are skilled in empathy conveyance and relationship building, and whose belief system prioritizes skilled communication and customer service behaviors.
The hiring process includes thorough job descriptions, effective candidate sourcing, thorough screening and interviewing, standardized offer letters, effective onboarding, and an evaluation process that supports the organization’s performance expectations.
- Job descriptions need to describe the required behaviors related to skilled communication, person-centered care, empathy conveyance and the like, so employees view their treatment of patients/clients as a core job duty.
- Interview questions should be developed that help to determine whether or not the candidate would fit well into the organization’s culture. Questions that are competency based tend to be more effective. These types of questions ask for examples from the applicant’s experience that would support important characteristics of the job opening.
- The evaluation references the job description so that the employee’s score is tied to their demonstration of expected behaviors.
Hiring and keeping the best employees means not only attracting the right employees, but keeping them engaged and committed, and providing feedback on their communication and customer service skills through performance evaluation.
Below you will find tools for defining core competencies such as interpersonal communication and customer services skills, as well as sample interview questions.
- Care Manager Job Description from the University of Washington AIMS Center (.pdf)
- Emphasizing Positive Client Interaction In Employment Interviews (.doc)
- Great Customer Service: Hiring Interview Guide Based On Candidate’s Past Experience (.doc)
- Customer Service Training For Staff And Providers (.doc)
These articles expand upon the broader recruitment and retention process.
- FQHC hiring tips: Finding the best match for your organization
- 15 Customer Service Skills that Every Employee Needs
- Core Competencies for Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care
- Evaluating Customer Service Skills During an Interview
- Achieving HRSA audit best HR practice
- Attracting, onboarding and retaining employees within the health care industry
- Healthcare HR and the Bottom Line: 5 focus areas for improving HCAHPS scores white paper
- Competencies hold the key to better hiring