Fine-Tune Your Physician Executive Search

The recent evolution of health care has changed the role of physician executives-making the job even more critical to a health care organization’s success and survival. A qualified physician executive should have a skill set that includes the ability to secure referral and payer networks, build new programs and fix ailing ones, recruit new talent, manage a professional staff, understand and plan for budget challenges, and more. The process of finding the most qualified physician executive can be a difficult one, but if done right, you can optimize the interview process and end up with a set of prime candidates.

The first step is to establish an Executive Search Committee that is dedicated to staying involved every step of the way. It’s important to retain the same committee members for each search to maintain consistency in the organization’s vision. A group like this will better understand the organization’s leadership needs.

Before your Executive Search Committee begins its search, its members should meet to discuss the qualities and experience that each candidate should have to best serve the organization. These qualities should be separated into two categories: required qualities and nice-to-haves. When the committee outlines these qualities, assign one quality to each committee member to use as a focal point during interviews. This will make the interviews efficient and interesting for the applicants. Before any interviews begin, spend time reviewing the criteria for legal interviewing. Your HR department can act as a great resource for this information.

The hiring manager should compile what some call a “resource compendium,” outlining all the information a potential physician executive would need to know about the job. This information may include the staff’s CVs, hours of operation, budget reports, research activities, a full outline of the services and programs provided, etc. As you begin the process, keep in mind that a large candidate pool is a good thing. It provides your committee with a chance to effectively compare candidates; it also helps the committee remain open to more options and possibilities.

With each first phone interview, cover all of the items on your Executive Search Committee’s quality list so that you can determine if the candidate is qualified for the second phone interview. Assign a member of the committee to conduct each second interview and make sure he or she structures the interview around the list of criteria that the entire group agreed upon.

After the second phone interviews, each committee member should present his or her candidates to the full Executive Search Committee. The information shared here should include notes made during both the first and second phone interviews. Collectively, the full committee should decide if the candidate is qualified for an on-site interview.

Arranging for on-site interviews can seem challenging as interviewers’ and candidate’s schedules are difficult to coordinate-which is why it’s important to choose an Executive Search Committee that is truly dedicated to doing whatever it takes to find the perfect physician executive. As the interview process continues, encourage every committee member to fill out an interview evaluation form the day of each completed interview.

As your candidate review continues, you will begin establishing a group of applicants who have an impressive skill set. Remember that with these qualified candidates you are likely not the only organization they are considering. This is when selling your organization and location as desirable and one that would be a good fit for a successful physician executive and his or her family matters most.

For the physicians who are not single, family plays a major role in making the overall decision as to whether or not the position will suit everybody. This is where spouse recruitment and savvy Realtors come into play. During the on-site interviews, invite the candidate and his or her spouse to tour the community. Selling the job to the spouse is nearly as important as selling it to the candidate.

Before you begin your on-site interviews, develop a process that will impress your candidates. This will help each applicant feel as if he or she is an important candidate in the eyes of your organization. Schedule at least 45 minutes for each interview with a 15-minute buffer period between each. Assign a host to greet the candidates and answer questions while they wait for their scheduled interview time.

The Executive Search Committee should conduct the first round of on-site interviews. If a certain candidate shows specific interest in an area of your organization, add an ad hoc member who is a part of the candidate’s area of interest. As on-site interviews continue, meet regularly-if not weekly-with the full Executive Search Committee to discuss the interviews’ outcomes.

The second round of interviews should include different Executive Search Committee members and also members of your organization’s executive leadership team such as the CEO, CMO or COO. Also, continue to involve the Spouse Recruitment Committee members. Once again, after the completion of this second round of on-site interviews, the members of the Executive Search Committee should meet to discuss their feelings about the candidates’ qualifications.

As the final step of the interview process, ask each candidate to prepare a Vision Statement that outlines his or her career goals-especially those he or she hopes to attain in the next three years. This Vision Statement may also include ways that he or she hopes to influence your organization such as revenue projections, overcoming potential obstacles or challenges, and plans for more program development. Although this seems like a major requirement, this is often the step in which Executive Search Committees clearly see who the very best fit for the job is.

When you make an offer, explain that no paperwork will be provided until the chosen candidate and hiring manager reach a verbal agreement. This is suggested because often candidates will shop around with your written agreement, which can be risky for your organization. Once negotiation has been finalized, send out the necessary paperwork with a seven-day expiration date. This will again help protect your organization. Although this seems like a short expiration date, you can always extend it if needed.

 

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