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3 Steps to Make Good Hiring Decisions in Clinical Settings

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   March 01, 2019

Stakes are high when recruiting new clinical staff, including costs associated with making new hires.

Health systems, hospitals, and physician practices face several daunting challenges in hiring candidates for clinical roles.

All organizations face "staggering" costs in the recruitment and selection of new employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. When replacing supervisory, technical, or management staff, costs are estimated at 50% to several hundred percent of employee salaries.

The lead author of a recent article in Journal of Hospital Medicine told HealthLeaders that there are unique aspects of hiring clinical staff.

"When we hire for clinical faculty, we try to make sure that a clinical recruit will be able to care for patients in our setting—a quaternary care medical and referral center. We look to see where someone trained or where they have practiced in the past to make sure that they will succeed in our institution," said Vineet Chopra, MD, MSc, associate professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine at Michigan Medicine and VA Ann Arbor Health System.

They make three recommendations to achieve good hiring decisions.

1. Expansive vetting process

Have candidates meet with multiple existing members of the clinical and non-clinical staff. This kind of depth in the hiring process increases the odds of catching potentially problematic characteristics of candidates and helps get the team committed to new hires.

2. Standardized interviews

Direct managers to create a standardized template of questions for candidates, so other members of the team follow a consistent approach while interviewing recruits and generate uniform feedback.

The standardized template should have both structured and unstructured questions, Chopra told HealthLeaders. "Domains within the template should include interpersonal characteristics, background and training, their stated interest in the position including whether or not they asked insightful questions, and positive and concerning aspects."

3. Match skills to role

Make sure a candidate's skills are well-suited for their new role. One of the first steps in the hiring process should be an assessment of the skills necessary to succeed in the open position.

The selection process should be geared toward ensuring a candidate's skills are matched with the open position, he said. "We use the CV as the first step—training and background is key to ensuring fit. We then use the interview as the next filtering process."

Importance of good hires

Chopra and his co-author wrote that there are three primary imperatives of making good hires.

  • Making the right hiring decision is crucial to the success of initiatives and reflects directly on hiring managers
  • Managers and other co-workers often feel compelled to compensate for the shortcomings of new hires, which can be costly in terms of efficiency and work hours
  • It can be challenging to terminate or transfer an underperforming staff member

"When hiring, you have to think hard about the role and an individual's skill set that makes them well-suited for it. Based on experience, we can tell you that once you go 'soft' by selecting a suboptimal candidate, you are in trouble," Chopra and his co-author wrote.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.


The cost of replacing supervisory, technical, or management staff range from 50% to several hundred percent of employee salaries.

There are unique aspects of hiring clinical staff such as making sure candidates are prepared to function effectively in specific care settings.

When hiring clinical staff, best practices include having candidates meet with multiple members of the clinical care team.

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