Developing a good process for hiring new clinicians is essential to your health as an organization. It is one foundational to your success as an organization. And we need to get good at it because some staff with inevitably leave for other options. Our best option is to develop a good hiring process.
The reasons you have an opening usually is either growth or someone left. If you have done an excellent job of creating demand for your services, you will need to hire. When someone leaves your practice, you will need to hire. But before the interviews begin it is well worth asking, what are candidates looking for in an employer? And more specifically, what might be attractive about joining your practice?
Different strokes for different folks
Fortunately clinicians are attracted to all sizes and types of practices. Some like the idea of a start-up and want to have a larger influence on what emerges; Others want more stability and structure; or mentoring; or independence and autonomy. And there are those who are attracted to their particular supervisor. Others care about the location. The variables are many.
Be who you are
The goal then is to be who you are. Before hiring new clinicians, list out what you are offering someone who is joining. What are the opportunities associated with the position you are offering? What types of candidates might be interested in your type of organization? Where might you find those candidates? Are you looking for veterans who are looking for a space to do their thing and little else? Are you looking for the energy of youth and willing to invest in training them into more maturity?
Have a picture in your mind of the ideal candidate. You may not find an exact fit but knowing the type of employee you are looking for is a strong beginning.
Finding the candidates
I have written a more extensive post on this topic called: Recruiting the best employees for your mental health practice. You can read it here.
We have several strategies for finding good job candidates. But my two favorites are these.
First, several of our clinicians who teach a course or two at nearby graduate schools, not for the income so much as for the exposure to graduate students who might someday be candidates for our organization.
Secondly, for over 20 years, we took 2 to 5 practicum students each year. These are students in graduate school who are inexperienced but will someday be out their building career’s for themselves. We are offering each practicum student a year-long job interview. By the end of it, they will know who we are. And we will know them. It does not always turn out to be a match but sometimes it does. When it does it is a very low risk hire for the both of us.
Now both of these strategies are quite long-term. One does not see immediate results from teaching or supervising. But these do build a reputation that spreads and creates an excellent foundation for our hiring.
And if that doesn’t work?
Even with the above strategies, there are times when we still are wanting additional applicants. Our best approach has been contacting local graduate schools. Accreditation bodies are now requiring graduate schools to do a better job of tracking their graduates. That means they usually have a way of posting job opportunities on a jobs board or email distribution. We have had great success in having graduate schools help us distribute a job listing. And we have found some experienced clinicians this way.
In my view, we ought always to be vigilant for candidates who might be a fit. To do so can help us weather the trying times when turnover occurs.
Honesty in the interviews
My organization got to the size that we were nearly always interviewing clinicians. We looked for those who fit, and generally we hired about 20 percent of those we looked at. The resume may tell us that the person is not suited for our setting.
We interview some good therapists that we do not think they would be a great fit with the rest of our staff. Some need more experience. And yes, we have times when we make an offer and the candidate rejects it. There is no magic. We just can be the keepers of the process and let the chips fall where they do.
The goal of any interview is to learn about each other, to see if there is a match. In another post, I have outlined our interview process.
In my view one of the biggest mistakes we can make is “selling” a position. We must resist the temptation to try to talk someone into joining. Doing so only sets up the inevitable disappointment and disillusionment when the honeymoon is over. I want to especially talk about the downsides of our system. Over-optimism always backfires. And disgruntled employees are not fun to deal with. Do yourself a favor and be clear about what you can offer and then find people who fit.
Hiring new clinicians
After the interviews, it is time to lay share the employment contract and make to offer. We do this through an email where we outline which office, which position, the time frame we are hoping for a decision, and how they can let us know. We have them sign the contract and send it to the owner. Once they have given us a signed contract, we announce the hire to the rest of our staff.
There is more to do after hiring new clinicians. We need to train them and to orient them to the habits that lead to success. An online software tool called Remarkable Start helps us present start-up materials. Remarkable Start distributes YouTube videos that we use to teach the effective use of our software. And we have about 30 documents that they can read and comment about. The system is fantastic for bringing new hires up to speed. They are more confident in who we are. They feel cared for. And they learn more rapidly than any other system we have tried.
And then the training meetings
But it doesn’t end when we hiring new clinicians. They need to be properly trained. When we hire someone they join a monthly 2-hour meeting where all our newer people get together to get oriented and to support each other. They will be in this meeting for at least 12 months. They graduate by accomplishing certain marketing and caseload markers. These trainings are our attempt to establish good work habits that will enable each experience success and stability.