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Staffing
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Ann Geier
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Staffing

Ann Geier, RN, MS, CNOR From resume red flags to interviewing like a pro, here are nine tips to make smart hiring decisions for your facility.

Ann Geier, RN, MS, CNOR\ 1. Collecting resumes. Instruct applicants to fax or e-mail resumes to a staff member that checks e-mail regularly. This staffer should acknowledge resumes with a quick e-mail or call. I don't think enough managers do that - in any industry - and that's a mistake. I recently conducted interviews and I can't tell you how appreciative prospects were when I replied to their submissions in a timely fashion. This small act is a great way to make a good first impression.

2. Reviewing resumes. Once you've gathered the resumes, review them carefully. An inconsistent work history or a great deal of moving around shouldn't necessarily eliminate a candidate from consideration, but you'll want her to explain those things during the interview.

Another red flag: grammar mistakes and spelling errors. A resume is the only way to judge a candidate before the interview, and misspelled words are an indication of carelessness - especially when SpellCheck is a simple mouse click away nowadays.

3. Interview etiquette. Be ready for the candidate on the day of the interview; it is inappropriate to make them wait. When a prospect arrives, take her to a quiet place - the break room is off limits - and give her your undivided attention. That includes ignoring phone calls and staff interruptions; a true emergency is the only thing that should disturb an interview. Make eye contact and avoid rapid-fire questions. You can take notes on the prospect's resume, but be sure they are objective in nature. Believe it or not, personal notes on a resume are discoverable in discrimination lawsuits.

4. How'd she treat the receptionist? Interpersonal skills are a huge part of being a successful employee, so take note of how an applicant presents herself during the interview. Is she well groomed and neatly dressed? Does she make eye contact? Does she appear nervous or fidgety, or is she calm and poised? All of these indicators will provide insight into how she'll act around patients in the pressure cooker environment of ambulatory surgery. Here's another tip: check to see how she treated the receptionist; sometimes the true nature of a person is best captured when she thinks she's not being judged.

5. Questions to ask. Asking the right questions can make or break an interview. Here's a list to work off of:

  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • What are you looking for in a position?
  • What would be the perfect job for you?
  • What are your short-term goals (within a year)?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How do you handle conflict with a co-worker?
  • How would you deal with a manager with whom you clashed? Pay close attention to how candidates describe previous managers and co-workers. Negative feelings towards ex-employers might indicate the problem was with the candidate, and not her ex-boss.
  • What would your co-workers say are your strongest points? What would they say you need to work on?
  • Talk about a significant contribution you made in your last job. What changes resulted?

Ann Geier, RN, MS, CNO\R 6. Questions to avoid. Steer clear of questions that are considered discriminatory. What's off-limits? Personal questions that could be pointed to as a reason for not hiring a candidate. For instance, let's say you're interviewing a woman for an OR nurse position. You'd like to know if she's married or about to start a family in order to gauge her availability in the near future. Inquiring about those topics will get you in trouble. Instead, use open-ended questions to give the candidate an opportunity to share. An example: Are there any factors that would prevent you from being able to meet the facility's expectations regarding attendance and the work schedule? You'll find candidates will often tell you more than you want to know.

7. Do goals mesh? There are good and bad answers to many interview questions, but there are no right or wrong responses to inquiries about goals. A nurse who wants to start a family or go back to school in a year may be a fine person and an excellent worker, but her goals might not match your facility's needs. I always appreciate honesty when it comes to future plans and will usually help an employee reach her goals if she works at one of my centers.

8. Let her meet your staff. The interview will rule some candidates out very quickly; others will move to the top of the hiring list. If you feel good about a person, introduce her to your staff. Candidates will appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your center from the front-line employees. A tour of the facility may also be in order.

9. Let there be closure. Regardless of your feelings towards a candidate after the interview, end the session politely and tell her you'll get back to them within a certain timeframe - and stick to it.

Think long-term
Finding the proper person to join your staff is a time-consuming process, but worth the effort. A half-baked attempt might save you several hours in the short term, but you'll be interviewing again very quickly. The goal is to hire someone who'll enhance the care of patients, and be a loyal employee for a long time.

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