Last month we looked at preparing for the recruiting process and creating and posting the advertisement. Now you need a process for handling those resumes and applications as they start to roll in.

Resume Review, Behavioral Interviewing, and The Offer

Last month we looked at preparing for the recruiting process and creating and posting the advertisement. Now you need a process for handling those resumes and applications as they start to roll in. You’ll want to review the applications and resumes as soon as you receive them and sort them into three piles – Looks promising, Maybe, and Unacceptable.

Things to consider when screening the cover letter are the salutation. Was it generic or non-specific, or did they take time to identify you as the recipient? Of course, if you did not provide a contact name or position in your advertisement, you will need to consider that, as well. Does the letter contain typos? Does the cover letter establish the connection between the candidate’s experience and the requirements of the position? Do their listed accomplishments show a direct correlation to the practice’s needs? Are any of the keywords from the job description in the cover letter? These considerations will help you make your sorting decision.

Then look at the resume itself. Did they follow your directions for submitting the resume and cover letter? Do they meet the requirements as advertised? Do their experience and qualifications appear to be a very close match for the practice needs? Is the resume presented in a professional manner? What is your first impression of it? Is it inviting, clearly presented, and professional? Is the length appropriate for the career level? You will want to consider the content and the presentation of the resume when sorting them.

You should immediately send a regret letter to the candidates in the “unacceptable” pile. There is nothing further you need to do. Regret letters are never fun to write but you can be gracious and tactful when rejecting someone who is not suited for a particular job.

Now you will want to contact the “looks promising” candidates to conduct an initial telephone interview. A telephone pre-screening tool takes about 10 minutes and will help you further narrow the qualified candidate pool. Contact your candidates by email or telephone to make your request for a pre-screening interview and use a prescribed screening tool to ensure that all candidates are asked the same information and you can easily track the results. Our VMC Comprehensive Resource Library includes a Screening Interview Checklist for this purpose.

After reviewing the pre-screening interviews, you will sort once again and select your top candidates to schedule a formal behavioral interview. And, as before, promptly and courteously regret all others.

Effective interviewing is the cornerstone of successful recruitment. Learning how to conduct a job interview seems easier than it is. The interview process should be structured and well-planned. Establishing a consistent, methodical approach is important. Having an interview system in place allows an objective standard on which to base your decisions, this will help you overcome interviewing pitfalls and identify the best person for the position.

Do not see interviewing as merely a task that needs to be completed to move along the hiring process. Do not approach interviewing as “I need to find a warm body” but instead as “I am looking to find the right person, on the right seat, on the right bus.”

Three key goals for the interview are to find out as much as possible about what the candidate knows, learn how their work skills have been applied and tested in work situations, and determine where their aptitudes lie, defining the path of further growth and development

Every one of the questions the interviewer asks the candidates should be geared to elicit the most insight into the candidate’s knowledge, skills, behavior, and abilities. Because your interview time is limited, ensure you are asking questions that will assist you in the decision-making process.

When evaluating the type of questions to ask a candidate you need to ask yourself: “What is the most likely response to this question?” and “Does that answer give me concrete data that will help my hiring decisions?” Interviews should consist of fact-finding, creative thinking, problem-solving questions, and behavioral questions.

Our VMC Comprehensive Resource Library includes a Formal Interview Worksheet for this purpose.

At the time of the interview, you will greet the candidate, give them a tour of your practice (if appropriate), ensure a comfortable and private room is available for the interview, make the candidate comfortable, and explain the interview process. You may wish to discuss and confidentiality concerning the interview, explain what to expect following the interview and ask them if they have any questions before you begin. When you are ready to conclude the interview, let the candidate know what the next step is and provide them with a timeline, then follow-through on that timeline and let the candidate know your decision.

You might wonder, what is the difference between Behavioral and Traditional interviewing. In traditional interviewing, candidates are vetted against one another rather than the open position. And simply determining if a candidate has the necessary skills and knowledge doesn’t always translate in knowing if they can and will use them. Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior as compared to the traditional interview which is only 10% predictive.

The key to behavioral interviewing lies in the type of questions that are asked. You want to tie behaviors to the tasks of the position and then set up behavioral questions to help identify the desired traits. For example, if you want to know if they possess the trait of responsibility, you might ask them to tell you about a time when they were particularly proud of a decision they made. Ask further, probing questions such as “Why did you feel proud of this decision? What steps did you take in order to make this decision? What was the outcome? In retrospect, when could you have taken action to improve an outcome to a decision and not do so?

For each behavioral question you ask, you want the candidate to tell you about a situation, the task that needed completing, the action that was taken as a result of the situation, and an explanation of the results that occurred because of that action. As always, consistency is important for demonstrating that your interview process is applied fairly. Ask candidates applying for the same job the same core set of questions.

After you have selected your choice candidate from the behavioral interviewing process, you will want to conduct an observational interview. This type of interview will look different for different positions, you will not conduct the same visit for a receptionist as you may an associate. What is important about this step is that you will get a “feel” for the candidate in the working environment, it allows for staff input, and the candidate also gets a “feel” for the clinic environment and staff interactions. The observational interview answers the questions “Do I want this person to work here?” and “Do I want to work here?”

This is the opportunity for team members to provide input about the candidate. Always inform the team members when the observational interview is going to be conducted and that you would appreciate their feedback, after all, they are the ones who are going to be working with this candidate. You can even have the team members complete a short assessment for review.

The resume was flawless, the interview went perfectly, the other team members loved this candidate during the observational interview. You have completed your due diligence in the recruiting and interviewing process and are ready to offer your top candidate the position within your hospital. A written offer will not only set expectations for the new employee but also clarify any matters that were discussed during the interview phase. Job offer letters start the employment relationship off on a positive note but do not promise more than you can deliver. A candidate’s signature on the final offer confirms that they have accepted the position and its terms. An effective job offer of employment can set clear expectations with the potential employee and persuade an otherwise uncertain candidate to accept employment with you.

So you found your next team member! But you still need to check references and perform the appropriate background check which should include a pre-employment drug test. Pre-employment drug screening enables employers to significantly reduce hiring employees who may have a drug or alcohol dependency that will affect their performance at work. The pre-employment background screening process reviews prior work history, verifies licenses and certification along with other pertinent information to make an informed decision on extending employment. Information on your state’s requirements for each of these types of screening tool can be found at: and

And when your new team member is finally on board, remember to share your joy! A new employee announcement should be given to all team members and also placed on your website, Facebook, etc. If the announcement is for a new associate veterinarian, we also recommend you ensure the announcement is available to the community.

We hope this overview of the Art and Science of Recruiting in 2019 has helped provide you with some new techniques that will help you keep your practice staffed with the best employees for your needs! It’s a new world for recruiting and you can make the most of it.

Sheila Grosdidier, SCP
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