4 Ways to Screen Physician Candidates for Soft Skills

With the Affordable Care Act well under way,  it has become more important than ever for hospitals and health systems that providers not only aim to reduce costs, but also improve the quality of care provided to patients. With this quality often measured, at least in part, on patient satisfaction scores, organizations are finding themselves searching for the soft skills that can lead to excellent patient satisfaction in prospective candidates.

But while  assessing clinical qualifications is fairly straight forward, many find themselves struggling to accurately assess a  physician candidate’s soft skills. Without many concrete measurements, recruiters find themselves at a loss. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of four ways to screen physician candidates for soft skills using assessments, scores, leading questions, and in-person interactions below:

1. Look at their patient satisfaction scores

One of the main qualities organizations look for when hiring a new physician is a good bedside manner. Physicians with a good bedside manner tend to have higher patient satisfaction scores, and with sites like Healthgrades, ZocDoc, and even Yelp showing patient ratings of physicians and practices, you can easily check on how happy a candidate’s patients are with them.

2. Make use of personality assessments

Is your physician candidate a team player? Are they empathetic? Are their communication skills up to par? These are all questions that can at least be partially answered through preliminary personality assessments and can help recruiters get a sense early on of which soft skills a candidate may be lacking.

3. Utilize the “Most important interview question of all time”

Lou Adler has been known as one of the major recruitment thought leaders in the US. In his work, he uses what he calls the “most important interview question of all time” to see if a prospective candidate will be able to get the job done in the position he’s recruiting for. This question, when asked correctly, can also provide insight into how well a candidate listens, communicates, works with others, and problem solves – all key soft skills required of a great physician candidate.

4. Have them shadow a physician

Shadowing a current physician during a site visit has two fantastic effects:

  • The physician candidate gets to see what an average day would be like if they were to join your team
  • Your can see how the physician candidate interacts with other physicians, advanced practice providers, staff, and patients.

The second effect helps you assess their communication and teamwork skills, while also enabling you to spot any troubling behaviors or character traits.

Key Take Aways:

  • Use the observations of others – past patients, your staff, other physicians – to get an idea of whether or not a candidate possesses the soft skills you need
  • Use written and verbal assessments to get an idea of where a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses lie
  • Ask in depth, open ended questions to dig into how they’ve interacted with others and how the work under pressure
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