PMC Tips: Hold to a higher standard on hiring

Medical schools don't teach management skills, but every physician needs them.

Managing people is one of the most important, frustrating and rewarding aspects of running a practice. Medical schools don't teach management skills, but every physician needs them regardless of the practice setting.

Physicians who put together a great team can provide high-quality and efficient care to satisfied patients, but the wrong hire can create headaches and heartaches. Because much of managing employees depends on the beginning of the employment relationship, the hiring process is critical. Often but not always, good hiring skills can prevent bad hires.

Know what you need. Define the job and the requirements, the training needed and the skills and aptitude required. Hiring is a two-way street. Candidates seek a good match as much as employers do.

Advertise appropriately. For front-office jobs, use local publications or Web sites. For clinical positions, use trade publications, hospitals or local colleges or training programs. For high-level positions such as managers, the Medical Group Management Association posts jobs, as do some local and regional medical societies. Hospitals may also have a place to post notices.

Interview selectively. Bring in only the candidates who have the required skill sets. Use the interview to ascertain competency in those skills. Then use behavioral interviewing techniques to assess how the candidate will do in certain circumstances. For example, lay out problems that typically arise in the job you are trying to fill and try to get a sense of the candidate's work ethic and decision-making skills. Also assess how the candidate's personality might fit in with the current team.

Be clear about expectations. Lay out the hours, responsibilities, benefits and how the position relates to other positions. Define short-term and long-term expectations. Candidates who know what is expected of them can make an informed decision. Expectations need to be explained clearly or you will be recruiting again soon.

Check references. Get at least three. Since many previous employers provide only dates of service and whether the person is eligible for rehire (if the answer is no, dig deeper), ask for alternates. Use references to confirm your instincts about the candidate.