For example, an employer should not ask an applicant, “How many days were you out sick last year?” Instead, a neutral question such as, “How many workdays did you miss last year?” would legitimately elicit information concerning dependability without inquiring about a possible medical reason, says Eric J. Holshouser, attorney/shareholder, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Jacksonville, Fla., an employment attorney with significant experience in the healthcare space.
Asking a female applicant, “Do you have small children at home?” could be perceived as discriminatory. On the other hand, the question, “Do you have any obligations outside of work that may interfere with your job?” is a legitimate job-related inquiry, assuming the question is not limited to female candidates, Mr. Holshouser says.
Instead of asking about a candidate’s ancestry or racial background, Mr. Lee suggests asking, if job-related, whether the applicant speaks any languages other than English. Instead of asking which church, synagogue or mosque the applicant attends, ask if they can work weekends if necessary.
Be Wary of Red Flags
Take note of a candidate’s remarks or actions during the interview process, such as those that pertain to how they treat staff and peers, or if there is a lack of cultural or personality fit, Mr. Dickerson says. If the candidate’s answers make it apparent that their concern is all about themselves and not about the patients and quality care, Mr. Dickerson considers it a significant red flag.
Weak or evasive responses from an applicant about why they changed employment in the past may indicate a lack of commitment or loyalty. Similarly, learning that an applicant left a prior job without having a new job lined up is a red flag. “That may indicate the applicant was dismissed, asked to resign or quit in an impulsive manner, none of which is favorable,” Mr. Holshouser says.
An applicant’s use of inappropriate language during interviews or non-verbal cues suggesting anger-control issues or issues of deceit or credibility should also raise an eyebrow, Mr. Lee says.
Dr. Wei finds inconsistencies in stories or stories that don’t make sense a cause for concern, and Ms. Taylor considers unkempt appearance and bad personal hygiene relative contraindications for offering employment.
Consider Aptitude Tests
Employers can use a number of different assessment tools to determine a potential candidate’s fit for a role. Mr. Dickerson’s firm uses a communication-style assessment tool, ProScan from PDPWorks, when screening candidates.
“Ideally, you will be able to begin to identify potential strengths, weaknesses and communication styles,” he says. “[Although] these tests shouldn’t be used to rule someone in or out, they do help people understand each other, and that better understanding can provide for greater collaboration and a more positive work environment.”
“One of the biggest causes of issues within a department or practice is poor communication,” Mr. Dickerson continues. “If you understand the communication style of the people you work with and they understand your communication style coming into the position, often you can avoid those initial road blocks and bumps.”
Conduct Background Checks
In some cases, employers may want to have criminal background checks performed on candidates being considered for a position. Mr. Lee says such background checks should be conducted only after a conditional offer of employment is made. He advises employers to ensure they comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act by receiving written authorization from applicants in advance.