Considering Video Recruiting in the Age of Coronavirus/COVID-19

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Just as healthcare organizations need additional providers more than ever due to the spread of COVID-19, the same virus is causing travel restrictions and challenges that are hindering candidate interviews.

Whether the recruiting organization is restricting unnecessary outside visitors, the interviewing candidate’s current employer is restricting their travel, or their family is simply not comfortable traveling at this time, travel challenges are likely to affect any current search efforts.

There are a few options to address these challenges:

  1. The first approach is to simply recruit as you have in the past and only consider candidates who are willing and able to interview in person at your facility. Unfortunately, this could significantly limit the number of candidates you are able to consider.
  2. The second approach is to place your recruiting efforts on hold until the virus has been contained to a point that travel restrictions and fears have been lifted. The downside to this option is that it could cause you to lose search momentum.
  3. The third option is to consider ways to get most or all the way through the recruiting process virtually.

The good news is…

that there are several healthcare systems and groups across the country that have been using video interviewing tools to hire healthcare leaders over the past few years. Many of our clients choose to have a brief introductory phone or video call with candidates prior to inviting them out for in-person interviews. Traditionally, it is during the on-campus interview that both sides begin to learn whether there is a potential personal and professional fit between the candidate and hiring facility. While there is no equivalent substitution for in-person meetings, it is certainly possible for both sides to assess the fit in detail in lieu of onsite meetings. Some candidates even prefer the efficiency of virtual interviews, rather than taking several days off to travel.

If you think about the interview process as a series of boxes both sides must check in order to assess the fit, consider whether these topics could be adequately addressed by video interviews with various members of your staff and the candidate:

  1. Job description: Clinical, teaching, research, administrative, procedural, call, and other responsibilities. It is rather easy to outline the requirements of the position and whether the candidate is willing and able to perform the job duties by phone or video interview.
  2. Facilities: Office space, equipment, patient rooms, and proximity of all facilities that the candidate would use. Although most professionals would prefer to see these facilities in person, it is possible to use marketing videos and pictures, campus maps, equipment lists, and even a Facetime tour of the facilities to answer most questions.
  3. Personality fit: It is easiest to assess personality fit in person, perhaps at a lunch or dinner. However, video conference discussions can go beyond professional conversation and can be used for both parties to get to know each other on a personal level. Assuming the candidate is comfortable providing references, those can also be used to assess the candidate’s personality.
  4. Community fit: Although it is very challenging to recruit a provider to a community their family has never visited, many of the candidates who may want to interview at your facility may already have ties to your area and in some cases they may already have a strong motivation to live in your area. If that is not the case, having a real-estate agent provide information about the area, virtual home tours, and other information about the area can give them a strong level of comfort with the community.
  5. Salary, incentives, benefits, and contract information: These details are often not discussed until after an onsite interview and frequently discussed by email or phone in a typical recruitment so this part of the recruitment process may not be substantially different if the candidate does not visit in person.

It may not be possible for you or your hiring leaders to make an official offer to a candidate without ever meeting them face-to-face and, in many cases, the candidate may not feel comfortable formally accepting an offer without a visit to your campus and community. However, you can have your team cover the topics listed above, have a real-estate representative educate the candidate about the community, walk them through a sample draft contract and offer terms, and check references before a visit ever takes place.

Obviously, these steps take time and if they are happening virtually while we wait for the Coronavirus travel challenges to subside, it will keep the candidate engaged and interested and keep your search momentum moving forward. If these details are covered sufficiently in advance, the candidate may be comfortable focusing their efforts exclusively on your position and not pursuing other options. Since many other organizations may not be willing to cover so much of the recruiting process virtually, it would put you at a distinct advantage in recruiting motivated candidates who are unable to travel currently.

The COVID-19 travel challenges will certainly make recruiting more difficult until the virus is contained. Those institutions that are willing to show flexibility in their process will still be able to recruit successfully.

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