Working Interviews: Why and How

Posted: Jun 19, 2015
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Let's face it. Hiring is one of the most important business decisions we make in our practice. We (hopefully) invest quite a bit of time and energy into making the right decision so that we can avoid the ripple effects of making a poor one.

One of the tools that I use and recommend is a working interview, but there are some strategies to consider...

No matter how extraordinary your communication skills are, or how intuitive you may be, or even how smooth your interview questions are, there are some relational dynamics and skills that will only be demonstrated during a working interview.

For example, does this candidate "mesh" with your team? No skill set can make up for someone who just does not fit comfortably into your clinic culture.

Body language cues are invaluable and can give us a wealth of data about someone. How genuine do they appear with clients? How do they respond to patients? How open are they to new ideas and suggestions?

Have the candidate demonstrate a few of the skills they listed on their resume. It gives you the opportunity to spend some unscripted time with them and get a better idea of who they are.

Last, but not least, a working interview gives the candidate the opportunity to evaluate your practice and team. Is this somewhere they can see themselves in five years? Hirer's remorse on either end is costly. 

Some details to consider:

  • Train your team on what they can and cannot ask, or discuss with a candidate during a working interview. All of the cautions of a formal interview are equally relevant for any of your team members during a working interview. It should also be an expectation to treat every candidate with respect and professionalism.
  • Supervise and mentor the candidate to your standards and practices. They could compromise patient care or client service with the best of intentions. Be aware of the candidate's safety; don't ask them to retrieve the formidably fractious cat out of a carrier.
  • Give some thought as to when to schedule a working interview. The day and time may be different for the different positions in your practice. We try to schedule a working interview on our busiest days. We need to know if a super busy schedule is overwhelming for them and they deserve to know this also.
  • Make sure the candidate understands they have not been hired and the working interview is not an indication that they have been offered the position.

Now for a slightly more controversial detail; assuming you will actually put the candidate to work during the working interview, I strongly suggest you compensate the candidate for time spent. Some practices do not compensate, some write a personal check, and some run the amount through payroll in order to make all of the appropriate deductions for state and federal taxes.

Keep in mind: You must offer at least minimym wage, but well over that would be an ideal gesture. Paying the candidate shows a level of respect for their time and speaks well of your values as a practice. Paying the candidate via payroll (although with an instant manual check) will help you avoid lack of compliance issues with the DOL, IRS or the Fair Labor Standards Act, and it should cover them under your workers compensation policy should injury occur.

Working interviews are not risk free but when using these strategies, the benefit typically outweighs the risk. Good luck!