Clinical Hiring Quick Guide

Clinical Hiring Quick Guide

Clinical Hiring Quick Guide
Tips & Questions to Guide a Successful Clinical Hiring Process

Hiring clinical staff for home-based care teams is still a top priority – and challenge – for providers, as demand and turnover both remain significantly high. With an estimated yearly turnover rate of as much as 60%*, home-based care teams might find themselves on a constant hamster wheel of hiring (and back-filling) clinical roles.

This guide includes useful, actionable tips for interviewing and selecting clinical hires that can help your business elevate the patient care experience and achieve success for the long term. It’s time to hop off the hamster wheel and streamline your staffing strategy!

Don't Forget Soft Skills

Pay as much attention to ‘soft skills’ as you do technical knowledge and experience. This doesn’t mean you should disregard industry regulations on staff requirements (compliance is key!) or education, work history, etc. that set a candidate apart; rather, remember that these are not the only important boxes to check.

A candidate’s attitude, communication skills, ability to build rapport with their teammates as well as patients, and empathy – to name a few – can also be excellent indicators of how successful (and how long) a new hire will be at your organization. These soft skills also make a significant difference for your patients and their families when receiving care, and in fact, are directly correlated to your business’s results.

Sample interview questions include:

  1. Can you describe a particularly meaningful experience you’ve had with a patient or family member?

Why: Provides insight into how the candidate thinks about, feels about, and interacts with patient families, and how they view their own impact on those in their care.

Tip: Listen carefully to why the experience was meaningful for the candidate – this can be a helpful indicator of his or her motivations and level of passion for providing care.

  1. Can you describe a challenge or misunderstanding you’ve had with a co-worker or patient/family member – and how you handled it?

Why: Provides insight into the candidate’s communication style, as well as how he or she navigates difficult interactions with others.

Tip: The second part of this question also allows you to hear directly from the candidate about their perception of the situation, giving you insight into red flags such as avoiding responsibility or lack of empathy.

Skills assessments can also help you gauge someone’s soft skills. These might include:

    1. Role-playing exercises
    2. Situational examples (show me how you would accomplish                 )
    3. Online behavioral assessments

Lead with Culture

Another important way to hire staff who will be happy on your team and contribute positively to your patients and business is to make your organizational culture a main element of your hiring process. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimated that one in five employees (20%) have left a job in the past five years because of poor company culture.

When it comes to culture, how well a team member fits in with the existing dynamic is often correlated to his or her perception of that culture. Essentially, it’s much more difficult to convince someone to adopt or accept a certain workplace culture, or change it, than it is to hire for culture fit in the first place.

Sample interview questions include:

  1. Can you tell me about the best place you’ve worked in your career and the people there? Why is it your favorite and what did you enjoy about them?

Why: This phrasing helps avoid the typical responses to what type of culture they prefer like, “Nice, supportive, worked as a team, etc.” and prompts the candidate to describe the actual people they worked with and environment they most prefer.

Tip: If you hear a general response such as, “Everyone was helpful,” try asking the candidate to tell you a story about a specific time this culture impacted them. This helps you understand how they perceive those traits in action and whether it lines up with how your business operates.

  1. Why do you want to work at [Company Name]? Why do you believe you’d be the best fit for this role?

Why: Not only does the first part of this question reveal whether the candidate did any research prior to interviewing with your business, but overall, asking the candidate to describe how he or she would fit into the organization can offer insight into any existing view of your culture and how the candidate expects to contribute to it.

Tip: You might also probe further by asking specifically how the candidate would describe your culture from what he or she has experienced so far.

Involve Other Team Members

To gain well-rounded perspectives and encourage collaboration among your current clinical team in the hiring process, consider incorporating them in various stages. This can include getting their input on potential candidate resumes, involving them in an interview, or even setting up a brief shadowing session for the candidate and a member of your team to see each other in action.

A shared sense of buy-in when adding new staff members helps encourage harmony and motivation within your entire team.

  1. Resume review: Do the candidate’s peers notice any red flags, questions they’d ask, or positive highlights within the resume information? This can help you narrow down which candidates you want to invite to interview and what topics you’d like to dig deeper into with them.

  2. Interview: Depending on your team’s needs and dynamic, you could include a peer who would be working closely with the candidate or do a group-style interview. Both have pros and cons:
    1. One-on-one with a peer: This approach is typically less intimidating for the candidate and allows the interviewer to have a more in-depth conversation, but leaves more opportunity for one person’s bias or preference to impact the decision.
    2. Group interview: This approach will typically provide a wider range of perspectives and can increase confidence in the hiring decision, but can be overwhelming for candidates. If possible, arrange a lunch or breakfast gathering rather than a panel-style interview if there will be more than three interviewers to lessen the pressure on the candidate.

  3. Shadowing: In situations where it’s appropriate, consider having the candidate spend a short window of time with a peer to demonstrate how he or she would perform a job duty or address a scenario. This can help give you insight into the candidate’s work style and skills, while at the same time let the candidate see how your organization approaches care processes.

Do Your Due Diligence

Finding a new hire who will fit in well with your team, is compassionate with patients, and has a resume that fits the requirements of the role is an exciting feeling. But we know that in our industry, compliance is the North Star. As professionals who are passionate about caring for others, we also want to focus on the positive and help when we see someone in need. Both of these are reasons why it’s imperative to do your due diligence before bringing on any new clinical hire.

Areas this includes are:

  1. Education, License, and Employment Verifications: Nobody wants to think suspiciously, and more often than not, candidates represent themselves honestly. However, when hiring someone to work with patients and protected information, you need to be sure they are properly licensed and qualified (and not misleading you). If not, your business could face very serious consequences and fines.

  2. Background Screening: This includes a criminal history and records search, driving report, registry search, and fingerprinting in some cases, as well as possible additional screenings as mandated by your state or federal guidelines.

Tip: Agencies like CMS encourage states to enhance their background screening requirements for employees with direct access to patients, so it’s important to understand and follow applicable state and provider type-specific guidelines. There are also consultants with expertise in these areas, like Empower, available to support you in remaining compliant with industry regulations.

Tip: Another way to gain insight into a potential hire that you should consider is conducting reference checks. Speaking with references allows you to see how others view the candidate as an employee and potentially uncover any discrepancies.

  1. Drug Screening and Medical Screening: Drug and health screenings such as TB tests are a must for any employee who will be in contact with patients. As with background screening requirements, the rules on which health-related screenings are in compliance varies from state to state and across provider types.

By conducting thorough and required due diligence when hiring each and every clinical employee, you can protect your patients, the general public, your staff, and ultimately your business’s survival.


Empower offers a full suite of services designed to help healthcare companies thrive, including HR and employee relations guidance, tools, and support – with you in the driver’s seat. We can act as a partner for your entire company’s employment needs and we stay informed of the latest best practices – so you don’t have to – protecting you from avoidable regulatory consequences.

You remain in control of running your business and managing your staff.

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