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READER TIPS

Potential hires meet with staff as part of job interview

Because a job interview produces a lot of pat answers, one medical office manager sends potential hires out to spend 15 minutes with the staff they will be working with.

What takes place are “the little conversations that employees have with one another,” she says. And the outcome is information no formal interview can uncover.

For that reason, the time with staff has been mandatory for more than a decade at a five-physician, 25-staff clinic in Connecticut.

There’s no formal procedure. The manager simply finds a staffer in the area where the candidate will work and asks that person to show the applicant around. The conversation wanders from personal introductions to “this is how we do things here.”

Then she brings the applicant back to her office and asks, “What did you think about the job?” And afterwards, she asks staff, “What did you think about the applicant?”

For the candidate, the 15 minutes gives a good picture of the people and the job, and often an applicant realizes there’s not a match, she says. It’s not uncommon for someone who wants to work in a busy office to sit at the front desk on a day when 10 lines are ringing and say, “This office is too busy for what I want.”

For the office, the 15 minutes is telling. It’s staff who are going to be sitting with that person every day, the manager says, and they want somebody who is going to be a part of their team. Their responses run from “X was great” to “she just sat there and never said anything.”

Sometimes it’s “we liked the person yesterday better.” Sometimes they even know the applicant.

Also, she says, applicants aren’t as guarded with other employees as they are with the manager, so many times what staff hear is a different story. Someone who tells the manager “I can work any hours you want” may say during the on-the-job visit that it’s impossible to stay past 5 p.m.

The manager also uses the time to get information on specific points. She cites one situation where she was unsure whether a candidate actually had billing experience even though the resume was good. So before the meeting, she told one of the billers about her concern. The biller asked questions about forms and procedures and reported that the applicant wasn’t familiar with them and therefore couldn’t have the experience the resume showed.


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