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6 Tips to Avoid Costly Hiring Mistakes

By Carson F. Dye, for HealthLeaders Media, September 3, 2010

It is no surprise that healthcare organizations invest significant time and money in hiring executive leadership. What may be surprising is how often they are ultimately disappointed by the choices they have made, and how an effective assessment methodology can help avoid these costly mistakes.

The High Cost of Hiring Errors

No matter how cautiously healthcare organizations approach the process, hiring executive leaders carries risk and can be an expensive business. Direct costs can include fees and expenses for executive recruiting services, salary for an interim executive to fill the vacant position, costs of bringing candidates to town for interviews, and relocation expenses once a new executive is selected. Indirect costs include turnover at lower levels as well as a lack of progress on strategic initiatives and reduced productivity for as long as 18 months while the new hire gets up to speed. Total investment for a senior executive position can easily reach $1 million, without counting the less tangible human costs of relocating individuals who must sell their home and uproot their families for the new position. Clearly, hiring mistakes exact a painfully high price for both the organization and the executive involved.

Despite the high-stakes consequences the selection process involves, many healthcare organizations take too few steps to minimize the possibility of hiring errors. Frequently, they rely on a haphazard process, perhaps one in which ill-defined chemistry and “gut instinct” play a disproportionately significant role. The fact that an interviewer connects with a particular candidate on a personal level as a result of shared geographic roots, similar academic background, or other arbitrary commonalities does not guarantee the candidate is a perfect fit for the job. Utilizing a more formalized, scientific, and validated methodology for the assessment process dramatically improves the odds of making the right hiring decision the first time.

1. Ferret out the Flaws in the Assessment Process

Despite good intentions, bias often unintentionally shapes the selection assessment process.  Consider these two scenarios. In the first, Candidate A, an east coast native,  has a delayed flight and arrives in town at 2 am. Still tired, he meets with the vice president of nursing, a born-and-bred Midwesterner, for an early breakfast. Unimpressed, the Nursing VP returns to the hospital and runs into the CFO, who asks about the interview.  The VP describes the candidate as unexceptional. When Candidate A meets with the CFO at noon, the CFO already expects not to be dazzled.

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1 comments on "View From the Top"


Diana B. Christiansen (9/26/2010 at 10:56 AM)
And, expand the cost to all the disappointing mistakes hiring nurses and other healtcare employees. The assessment methodology, behavioral interviewing techniques and asking for a simple upfront "task" can weed out an enormous number of unmotivated and unqualified candidates. The hiring process is the most important part of "Talent Management"!