By Brenda Rinehart, MBA, CRA, FAHRA
October 2013—One of five domains that anyone wishing to become a CRA will have to demonstrate mastery in is human resources, and one of the main human resources tasks an imaging administrator will be faced with is hiring. Should the hiring practices at the executive level vary to a large degree from those at the staff level? This is a tough question. One may say yes, because the levels of responsibility vary to a large degree. One may say no, because the patient care provided by front-line staff is far more critical than the work performed at the executive level. Equal hiring practices may result in the best decisions, but resources are often limited by position and location.
If you have been in the industry long enough, you have probably had your fair share of hiring surprises; not the good kind of surprises, but the kind no one talks about outside of the closed door session with their human resources generalist. Sometimes the decision not to hire someone is easy because the outward signs are there: poor resume or application, minimum qualifications not met, tardy for the interview, dressing inappropriately, poor references, and so on. Sometimes it’s not so easy. Hiring the right person can feel like rolling the dice. After all, how can we possibly really know the person sitting across the table from us during the interview process?
The industry literature supports many different tactics, and human resources departments across the nation support their own methodology for getting it right, including pre-screening for qualifications, drug and tobacco screenings, criminal background checks, reference checks, and primary source verifications. Some human resources departments offer interview training and specialized programs, such as behavioral based interviewing, to support hiring decisions.
Even with specialized offerings, there exists a disparity between the hiring practices at the staff level and the hiring practices at the executive level. For example, hiring an executive at some facilities may occur over a week long period that includes multiple roundtable interviews, fit tests, psychological evaluations, and ‘getting to know you’ events. Hiring is often the decision of a group versus a few people or in some instances a single person. Hiring at the executive level is based on the desire to have the best person in the position, and as result these positions can remain open for long periods of time. Hiring at the staff level most often occurs in one day, following an interview with the hiring manager and perhaps a few other key stakeholders. Hiring at this level moves more quickly and is often dictated by the need to have someone in the position quickly. Moving back to the issue of resources, how might we merge the best practices of the executive interview process with the limited resources of time inherent to staff level hiring decisions?
Slowing it Down
The first step to a great hiring decision is to realize that the time needed to make the best decision is less than the time needed to fix a bad hiring decision. The best person for the position will result in stabilization for the rest of the team. Taking the time necessary to include some industry best practices will result in a greater opportunity to find the best person for the position. It does not have to be a week long process, but with a little organization and pre-planning, you can move thoughtfully through the process and include all of the elements in a single day.
Work with Human Resources (HR)
Human resource departments often pre-screen individuals based on qualifications. It is essential that the hiring manager work with the HR department to ensure that the screening process is occurring. It is frustrating to receive a bulk of applications for applicants that do not meet the minimum qualifications. If a manager is looking for something special that is not indicated in the basic job description (such as adding CRA-preferred for another management position), a discussion with the HR recruiter may be valuable. Leaner workflows and hybrid positions are the reality of the administrative team as everyone is challenged with doing more with less. Taking thirty minutes to update or create a new job description may be vital to saving a lot of time later in the process.
The desire to remove some of the disparity in hiring practices is sound and based on best practice. A competent administrator recognizes the necessity to grow through continuing education and to introduce necessary changes into the environment. As a fellow administrator, I strongly encourage my leadership team to continue their education and to challenge themselves to obtain additional certifications, such as the CRA, which allow us to fill the gaps in our knowledge base.
In my next article, I will discuss the screening and interview process and provide tips to make the process more efficient.
Brenda Rinehart, MBA, CRA, FAHRA is the regional director of imaging at Confluence Health System in Wenatchee, WA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.