Effective Recruiting for Medical Office Staff

How to Recruit and Hire Successful Medical Office Staff

Recruiting successful medical office staff is an important responsibility. Customers of a medical office are not typical customers. They are patients who expect the highest quality of care, and some may be in the midst of a medical crisis and require delicate handling. Not only is it important for the staff to have certain professional skills and strengths, it is imperative that they understand that patient lives are reliant on the quality of their work. Effective planning is essential for recruiting success.

Prepare for Recruitment Before You Have a Vacancy

Even when your medical office is fully staffed, you should always be searching for new talent. Most employers fail to be prepared in the event that one of their staff members leaves. If an employee put in their two-week notice today, how long will it be before you have their replacement? If you are prepared with an updated job description, interview questions, and a recruitment plan including where you will advertise, it will be easier to find and narrow down the list of potential candidates. Being ready for this day prevents you from feeling rushed into making the wrong choice from your pool of candidates.

Phase 1: Creating the Job Description

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Once the decision has been made to begin recruiting staff for an existing job or a new position, creating or updating the job description is the first step. The job description outlines the details of the position. It should reflect everything that is required for the position so you can assess each candidate and make the best selection.

The elements of a job description are:

  1. Primary Job Function
  2. Duties and Responsibilities
  3. Education and Experience
  4. Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

You should include knowledge of HIPAA and medical privacy, strong customer service skills, and skills in communicating with the special populations of your practice, such as children, geriatric patients, mobility challenged, hearing challenged, etc.

Phase 2: Developing the Recruiting Process

woman working on paperwork

Before posting the position, you have more work to do. It takes planning to find highly-qualified professionals in the medical field. There are four steps in developing the recruiting process.

  1. Develop a list of interview questions
  2. Decide on the type of interview method
  3. Create an advertisement for the position
  4. Decide where to post the position: It is more effective to consider locations that will attract the best, most talented and highly qualified applicants. Some of these include
  • Posting internally
  • Using social media (LinkedIn is a great networking site)
  • Placing advertisements on websites that are geared to health care or medical office professionals
  • Targeting colleges, universities, and trade schools
  • Posting to national recruitment websites such as Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com, etc.

Interview Questions You Can't Ask

Employee Evaluation
Evaluating staff performance. Image courtesy of PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty

When developing interview questions keep in mind what questions may offend your candidate and try to avoid them. It is important to word your questions in a way that will give you the answer you are looking for but can be asked without causing possible legal ramifications later. Here are some questions you can’t ask and what you can ask instead.

You can’t ask: Are you US citizen?
You can ask: Are you authorized to work in the US?

You can’t ask: How old are you?
You can ask: Are you over the age of 18?

You can’t ask: Do you have any disabilities?
You can ask: Are you able to perform the duties of this position?

You can’t ask: Is English your first language?
You can ask: What languages do you speak, read, or write fluently?

You can’t ask: Do you have kids?
You can ask: ​What is your availability for working outside of normal work hours?

Phase 3: Identifying a Pool of Qualified Candidates for Selection

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Employee Motivations. Image courtesy of Kristian Sekulic/Getty Images

Now that planning is complete, post the position. You are prepared to begin accepting applications.

At this critical point of recruiting, it is time to select and identify a pool of qualified candidates to interview from the pool of applicants. To make the process as simple as possible:

  1. Set a deadline for all applications to be submitted
  2. Review the applications and sort into three groups
  3. Put aside applications that do not meet the minimum requirements of the position
  4. Evaluate each group of applications separately for certain criteria
  5. Select the top five candidates to contact for an interview

Don't Rush the Process - Use a Two Interview Strategy

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Replacing a valued employee, especially in the medical office, can take a long time. Many times medical office managers make hiring decisions because they feel the pressure to replace an employee right away. Take your time. Get to know potential candidates before making a final hiring decision.

Make sure your policy indicates that all hires require a two interview process. By the end of the second interview, you should be ready to make a firm decision without any reservations about it. Be sure to conduct a background check and call references before making a final decision to avoid further delays.

Look at All of Qualities of a Candidate

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Education, certification, and experience are important factors and prequalifications. But someone can have 20 years of experience in a position but still not exhibit the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the job successfully.

You may or may not have the ability to provide training or extra time in aiding a candidate to develop skills after hire. Some skills, such as keyboarding, can improve over time, but more stringent guidelines must be followed if knowledge of medical terminology is a requirement of the job.

Personal traits should also be included as a determining factor in the selection process.  If the position is an entry level position, then it may not be necessary to consider leadership as a personality trait that is needed for the position. But all candidates must have integrity and show that their actions and behavior at work are based on high ethical standards. They must embrace diversity, recognizing and respecting the differences between people. Keep in mind that the ways in which the patients and their families are treated directly contribute to the level of success of the medical office.

Phase 4: Recruit One of the Finalists

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At this point in the recruiting process, you should have reduced your pool of qualified candidates to one to two finalists. If you have selected a panel or committee to assist in the final decision, this is the time to meet and gather the recommendations for the final decision.

  1. Extend an informal offer
  2. Obtain a criminal background check
  3. Conduct a reference check
  4. Require a health assessment
  5. Verify credentials: There are specific requirements for licensed health professionals and this process can take several weeks. For administrative staff, check any certifications and degrees.
  6. Follow up with a formal offer letter
  7. Prepare for the first day

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