Physician Recruiting Tips for Small Medical Practice Owners

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For those of you looking to add a new physician to your practice, a recent survey of hospital physician recruiters revealed several sobering statistics. It took hospitals an average of 222 days to fill a physician opening. Only 68 percent of offers extended to physicians last year were actually accepted. The offer/acceptance rate was much better in those areas of the country where populations were higher, while those with smaller populations saw a much lower acceptance rate.

If you’re in a small community and have plans to hire, there are ways to reduce the time it takes to find the right candidate and improve your chances of an acceptance. I’ve included a couple of tips used by some of the best recruiters in the industry that could be just what you’ll need to compete.

Do some detective work

Recruiters use their vast networks of physicians not only to find candidates, but to collect intelligence on the competition. They best use this intelligence to educate their customers on the strength and weaknesses of a competitor’s offer package. It is not uncommon for a recruiter to make calls to the newest candidates at a nearby hospital, or candidates that recently declined offers in the area, to get a thorough understanding of the benefits being offered. If you don’t already know what practices in your area are offering, it is a good idea you start doing some detective work of your own.

Once you’ve done your detective work, make a list: their offer and yours. If there are gaps and you find yourself at a disadvantage, remember it isn’t only about compensation. Make sure you include all of the cultural benefits as well. Read my previous blog post about considerations before hiring a physician for some additional ideas on building your value proposition.

Learn how to sell

If your value proposition centers squarely on what you and your practice will gain from the addition of a new recruit, I hope you are patient because you could be in for a long and disappointing journey.

Avoid posting a job ad that lists what you want in a candidate; instead focus on communicating what your candidate will find attractive. Most job ads sound the same, “we are looking for,” “we offer,” “our practice.” What do potential candidates read in that posting? It’s all about you. When done right, with the focus on the candidate, you make it easy for someone to clearly see an opportunity that is all about them. Take a highlighter to your online job descriptions; I suggest two colors. Use one color to highlight the number of times you talk about yourself, your practice, and what you want. Now, use a different color to highlight the number of times you mention your prospective candidate. If your message is not 3:1 in favor of the color representing your candidate, you have work to do!

Adapt to your audience

The focus on the candidate shouldn’t end with the job posting. Your interview tone, questions, and format should be about the candidate, not about you. Remember, only 68 percent of offers are accepted on average.

Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of placements fail not because of a better financial package, but because the candidate had a better interviewing experience somewhere else. Making the interview about the candidate doesn’t mean that you can’t get a better understanding of whether or not their value and skill matches your needs; it simply means you need to be thoughtful about your approach.

Instead of describing what you are looking for, use behavioral interviewing questions to understand the candidates experience and skills. It’s a small change; most can’t tell the difference. That’s the beauty — simple and free —and I can tell you it works. Start your questions with “how did you” or “step me through a time where you,” which will give the candidate the opportunity to talk about themselves and you an opportunity to determine if their experience, values, and attitudes fit.

The best recruiters can’t change a practice, but they can help practices uncover the great things that already exist. Just a few tweaks will help you reduce the time to fill your opening and increase the likelihood that your offers will be accepted.

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