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September 30, 2019

Hiring a physician? Ask these 5 unexpected questions.

Daily Briefing
    Editor's note: This popular story from the Daily Briefing's archives was republished on Apr. 1, 2021.

    By Ben Palmer and Rachel Woods

    Hiring the right candidate is a decision that can have long-lasting consequences for your organization, which is why behavioral-based interviewing (BBI) is key.

    Your quick guide to BBI

    What is BBI and why should you use it?

    BBI theorizes that past behavior is the most accurate predictor of future behavior in similar situations. By asking candidates to discuss past experiences related to crucial job competencies, managers are able to get the best possible idea of each candidate's probable job performance, and can attempt to filter out employees who are likely not going to fit with the organization's culture.

    To use BBI interviewing, an organization should first determine the behavioral competencies that are most critical to succeeding in the open position. Then, interviewers should ask the candidates to identify specific past experiences in which those critical behaviors would have been tested, as well as open-ended follow-up questions to determine how the candidates reacted.

    It's key to ensure these questions are open-ended. Instead of asking a question like, "When did you start working in pediatrics?" you should ask, "Why did you choose to work in pediatrics?"

    BBI questions should not make up the entire interview. Instead, they should make up about 40 to 80% of the interview, depending on the position, with the remaining time devoted to asking questions about technical skills that will determine whether a candidate has the qualifications necessary to fulfill the non-behavioral aspects of the position.

    5 questions to ask your physician candidates

    Every set of BBI questions will vary by organization, as each organization will have different values they prioritize. Not sure where to start? Consider asking your physician candidates these five somewhat surprising questions:

    1. How do you manage a patient on whom you've made a medical mistake?

    Medical mistakes don't happen all the time, but without a doubt they do happen. how a candidate has dealt with a patient on whom they've made a medical mistake can speak to their ability to maintain patient-centered and customer-focused care.

    It also speaks to how the physician can overcome adversity and how they deal with their own mistakes.

    2. How would you feel about the results of your clinical quality data being available to your peers?

    This question serves a number of purposes. First, it offers insight into whether the candidate is a more collaborative or independent doctor. In other words, do they want to share their clinical data with their peers to receive input, or do they prefer to keep that information private?

    Second, the question speaks to the candidate's level of transparency. If the candidate comes from an organization that heavily emphasizes total transparency, they likely will have no problems with their clinical quality data being available to their peers.

    3. What do nurses you work with say about you? How do you know?

    The first question, "What do nurses you work with say about you?" is a fairly common question, similar to asking what a previous employer or manager would say about the candidate. This question speaks to the candidate's ability to collaborate and work with others, specifically with nurses.

    However, it's the follow-up question of "How do you know?" that adds a surprising twist to the question. This follow-up speaks to the candidate's views on receiving feedback. Do they regularly ask for feedback and welcome it, or do they prefer not to seek out criticism?

    4. What is a workplace pet peeve of yours?

    Everyone has their pet peeves, and most of them are fairly innocuous, however in some cases a candidate's pet peeve could cause friction in your organization. For example, if a physician prefers to work independently and gets easily annoyed when working in a group setting, working in an organization that emphasizes collaboration may be difficult for that candidate.

    This question also speaks to the candidate's ability to foster a positive work environment. Are they able to overlook small pet peeves in order to serve the larger picture? Or could those pet peeves derail them?

    5. Tell me about the things you like to do when you're not being a doctor.

    At its most basic, this question simply gives you a broader sense of who the candidate is as a person. Likely you've already asked them a number of questions specifically-related to their clinical experience and other on-the-job experience, but this question gives you an idea of who this person is outside the workplace.

    The question could also give you a look into how the candidate deals with stress. The medical profession is a highly stressful job and physician burnout is a growing problem. Speaking with a candidate about what they do outside of work could give you an idea of how likely they are to deal with potential burnout.

    Want more BBI questions to ask your candidates? Check out our Physician Recruitment Toolkit, which includes a large variety of BBI questions to ask potential candidates, as well as a BBI interview builder, which helps recruiters incorporate BBI questions into initial scoping calls to better gauge a candidate's cultural fit.

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