Quick-Start Hiring Guide for Vision Care Practice Managers

You’ve no doubt heard the popular mantra “hire slow, fire fast.” Don’t misinterpret this adage. Yes, you must not hire until you find the perfect fit, but don’t let indecision, disorganization, or dawdling slow your search. An empty position can compromise your practice’s efficiency and effectiveness.

You work in health care, so there’s likely a high demand for the position you’re hiring for. Even mild procrastination can cause you to lose your best candidate to another employer, and before you know it, you’ve spent months in a protracted, fruitless search. Resolve to hire with thoughtfulness and speed. Plan carefully, and set aside a time each day to tackle the search. Why? A dedicated time block helps you discipline yourself to turn away from urgent (yet ultimately unimportant) tasks to smart hiring—a task that’s essential to your practice but not always fun.

10 Steps to a Great Hire

1. Draft the job description. Include any education, professional certifications, and experience you’re looking for, as well as the soft skills your hire needs to have to do the job well.

2. Advertise. Some practices find Craigslist remarkably effective for finding good candidates. Don’t forget to look for advertising opportunities among the professional organizations associated with the position you’re hiring for.

3. Establish a consistent process and a tracking system. Once the resumes start coming in and you begin doing interviews, things can become confusing—especially if your hiring process involves several stages or multiple interviews. A tracking system helps you stay organized and move quickly. Use an Excel sheet or your Favorited project management system to record where your ‘A’ candidates are in your hiring process. Your headings might include benchmarks like phone interview, on-site skills test, on-site interview, reference check, and background check. Your sheet should include dates to ensure you or other interviewers aren’t holding up the process.

4. Develop interview questions for each stage of the process that you will use for all candidates, recommends Laura Palmer at MGMA. Great resource: Palmer’s presentation is chock-full of great interview questions, savvy tips for how to spot red flags, and downloadable onsite assessments for both clinical and clerical staff.

5. Rank the resumes roughly. You want to see specific achievements and progressive advancement that shows steady career development. I suggest three groups: A, B, C. A’s should get a call from you the day you see the resume. B’s and C’s should get a brief note letting them know you received the resume.

6. Phone your ‘A’ candidates. Most phone interviews need last no longer than 15 minutes. Use this time to ask questions about anything in the resume that worries you and assess the candidate’s telephone communication skills if the job requires them. Example: You may see a gap in the job history and there may be a good reason for it. However, there may be a bad reason for it—like job-hopping. Figure that out in the phone interview before you waste both your time and the candidate’s time with an onsite interview.

Tip: Ask at least one phone interview question that helps you assess how your candidate thinks, Asking them ‘how’ questions instead of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions will tell you volumes about how well they know the skills they claim to know.

7. Bring in candidates who passed the phone interview. You may want to interview several candidates on the same day for easier comparison. However, if your phone screening is progressing slowly, don’t dilly-dally on bringing in promising candidates. A question and observation template—and good notes—will help you make sure you’re comparing them against a consistent standard.

8. Give each candidate an on-site test to screen for competency. The results will help you sort out the folks who talk a good talk but don’t really know much.

Tip: Administer the on-site test at the beginning of the candidate’s visit. Before you interview, glance at the results to ensure you don’t waste lots of interview time with candidates who don’t meet the requirements.

9. Check references, education, certification, and professional experience. Actually call the institution, accrediting organization, or previous job to make sure the candidate is telling you the truth.

10. Have you found the perfect fit? Great! Make an offer on the phone or in person, follow up with a formal offer letter, and get a written acceptance.

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