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Identifying Deal-Breakers When Hiring Medical Providers

Recently, I had a conversation with a practice that had hired a new provider and, during the interview process, some “red flags” had come up.  Now, you’re probably wondering, “If red flags were identified during the interview, why did they hire the provider?”  That was the exact question I asked them.  Unfortunately, in these tough recruitment times, it can be difficult to turn down a provider - any provider - when you have a pressing need.  But it’s still important to be able to identify potential deal-breakers and decide if they’re something that you’ll be able to overcome.  Additionally, no matter the situation, a hiring manager should never make an offer on the spot if there are significant concerns.

Identifying deal-breakers.  Prior to conducting any type of interview, you should identify and be aware of your own deal-breakers.  For example, if you need a provider to work in a specific geographic territory due to your growth pattern and the provider is adamant that he/she will not travel to that location, you need to ask the right questions to prevent yourself from making a hiring mistake.  During the interview, make sure to take notes ... I know this may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many interviewers don’t take adequate enough notes to remember concerns and candidate non-negotiables.  With a robust set of interview notes, you can circle back to questions/concerns at the end of the meeting or ensure they are organically resolved during the rest of the conversation with the provider - either way, you guarantee that you end the meeting with all concerns addressed and both positions (yours and the candidate’s) clearly known.  Don’t be afraid to continue to ask probing questions or request further explanation of statements the provider made.  If you don’t flush these items out from the get-to, they will set you up for failure down the road.

See if the deal-breakers are actually manageable.  It’s important to discuss the deal-breakers or red flags you perceive with the provider in-person and cover them thoroughly.  More often than not, it’s simply miscommunication and/or an issue that wasn’t clearly identified.  Take a moment to discuss the issue at hand and go over ideas together on how these supposed deal-breakers might be overcome to everyone’s benefit.  Take the example above - let’s say the provider thought he/she was going to have to travel to the undesirable territory on a daily basis but, in actuality, you only need them to make the trek twice a month.  This might be manageable, but if you simply ask if they’re willing to travel to the out-of-the-way territory, they say no, and you move on, you missed a golden opportunity to compromise and perhaps still find a way to work together.

Know when to say “no”.  As a practice, you need to know when a deal-breaker truly is just that.  In my conversation with the group I referenced above, I asked what the red flags were that presented during the interview process.  They were location of patients and the number of patients scheduled per day.  The provider simply said, “If you give me more than X patients per day, I am going to leave and not come back.”  In my opinion, if a provider is making what is essentially a threat during the interview, and that threat ends with “I’m not coming back”, you’ve probably come across a true deal-breaker and it’s time to say “no”.  Also, if all of your patients are in a specific territory and the provider says they are unwilling to go to that territory on any schedule or under any condition, you might have stumbled upon another “no” moment.  

To sum up … as hiring managers in medical practices, it’s important not to ignore the red flags you pick up on during the interview process, to figure out if something is truly a deal-breaker or simply a misunderstanding, and to be okay with saying “no” when you do encounter a deal-breaker to which you can’t adapt.

Thanks for reading,

Nick