Your Interview Process May Not Be Legal

Will your hiring decisions stand up to scrutiny? They will if your practice has a compliant hiring and interview process. As an experienced practice owner, you’ve done your share of hiring. And if you’re looking to expand your practice, it’s likely that you’ve got a decent track record in this area. But it’s a numbers game. Bringing on more employees exposes you to more liability in the hiring process in new areas you may not even be aware of until you find out you’re being sued.

You need a skilled professional with fresh understanding of compliant hiring processes to help you bring the right people on board, and retain your employees to prevent costly turnover.

There’s a laundry list of legal issues that come up throughout the hiring process that you need to keep your eye on, warns attorney Marcus Crider, speaking to attendees of the 2017 annual meeting of the Ambulatory Surgical Center Association. For instance, as you select candidates for interviews and for employment offers, you need to be careful about not violating the ADA, which prohibits discrimination based on disability.

Keep Your Interview Process Compliant

You can’t leave anything to chance when you’re hiring. Busy managers just won’t have time to do the through checks on candidates that you need to protect your practice. Your HR specialist can manage the verification process: think of HR as Homeland Security for your office.

Keep HIPAA in Mind

Since you’re hiring people who will be working with protected patient data, you need to make sure you do a thorough reference/background check, advises Suzanne Rupert, Director of Human Resources & Recruiting for Eye Care Leaders. In eye care, techs need certain certifications, depending on the state, so that must be verified, as well, she says.

Ask the Right Questions When Hiring

Your HR specialist will know what the no-go areas are for interviews. He or she can help facilitate a process that won’t backfire on you. For instance, you can’t ask if candidates are married or pregnant, says Rupert.

Hiring a lot of techs as part of your practice expansion? Develop a standard questionnaire for the interviews, Rupert says. That way, you can show that you were fair and that everyone had the same opportunity to answer those questions. You should keep responses on file for a certain number of years, she adds, and someone needs to oversee that.

An HR expert will know what kind of behavioral interview questions to ask, says Rupert. For example, if someone’s changed jobs frequently, the HR person will know how to probe without offending. A skilled interviewer will know how to ask questions that reveal how a candidate handles stress, whether they have leadership potential, whether they’re team players, and so on, she adds. Situational questions like how a tech or nurse dealt with an agitated patient in the past, for instance, can be very telling when you’re making a hiring decision.

Don’t Forget Documentation

It’s going to be hard for someone who doesn’t have HR experience to process all the hiring documents that have to be completed—such as the I-9 that you must file within three days of hiring—when you bring on new employee, Rupert cautions. You need someone to manage personnel file retention and know the limits and understand security so the confidentiality of the documents isn’t compromised.

Craft job offers very carefully so that candidates don’t construe them as some sort of contract or guarantee, cautions Crider. Don’t create the appearance of a contract, unless you intend to create an actual contract, he advises.

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