Creating, supporting and nurturing a culture free of disruptive behavior and bullying which may potentially impact your satisfaction scores begins during talent acquisition. During the recruitment and selection process, organizations screen for direct healthcare providers who are not only technically skilled, but are also a match for the organization’s culture and team (shift) culture.

Most healthcare organizations include in their core values some variation on a theme of caring, compassion, service excellence, accountability, integrity and respect. Screening for these core values may include validated pre-employment assessments and technical skills assessments followed by a structured interview process to reach the authentic candidate. The three primary types of interview techniques are behavioral, situational, and abstract interviewing.

Behavioral interviewing considers past behavior as a strong indicator of future performance. This type of questioning relies on a candidate’s ability to recall events and subsequent actions similar or equal to the situation described by the interviewer. Situational interviewing relies on an individual’s ability to read a situation, use acquired knowledge, skills and logical thought processing to determine a solution or action to a possibly new or similar situation as described by the interviewer. Abstract problem-solving questions are used to test a candidate’s ability to think on their feet and express creativity. The interviewer is looking for the candidate to ask thoughtful questions, stay in control, and “work through” the beginning analysis to complete to a conclusion. For healthcare, an example of this type of question might include, “Tell me the number of syringes used by a 500 bed hospital in a day.” There is no true answer. The interviewer is gaining an understanding of the candidate’s use of various mental processes and body language demonstrated by the candidate and the candidate’s overall reaction to the question.

So how do you screen for compassion – that elusive characteristic so highly prized in most healthcare organizations? How do you break through the highly polished, “too-good to be true” responses of the behavioral based questions?

Consider balancing behavioral based and situational based questions to verify your assessment.

Example situational based questions:

A new admission is coming to floor and it is five minutes prior to the end of the shift. The new admission is not in your assignment area. You have a commitment right after work. What do you do?

You are taking care of a patient that has been in the hospital two weeks. The patient has had the same family member in the room for the same period. The family member never complains. What do you do?

 An elderly woman is on your floor recovering from knee surgery. She uses her call light every 10 minutes. Your unit is short-staffed. Other staff-members seem to be ignoring her. You pass by her room and hear her crying but you have just been in the room and the patient in the next room is calling. What is your response?

You are late for work and have not clocked in. As you come off the elevator you see two family members experiencing difficulties with the coffee machine. What do you do?

You are working on a surgical unit in a hospital. You walk into a patient’s room and the patient has fallen out of bed. The patient is morbidly obese, a bilateral amputee and blind. What are the first five things you do?

Look for the “first response” of the candidate through body language and first words. Are there elements of Caring and service-orientation? Is the patient’s well-being coming first? Is the candidate demonstrating “reaching out?” Does the candidate look beyond the obvious?

Does the Communication reflect compassion in inflection, style and response? Is the candidate rephrasing the question thoughtfully? Is there a direct, over-confident, brusque response or is there a moment of internal thoughtfulness? Is the communication with the team considerate? Is the candidate able to combine the need for efficiency with compassionate communication skills?

Does the candidate’s response indicate a Connection is being created with the patient or the individuals involved? Compare what you are observing as well as hearing.  As the candidate interacts throughout your interview process, is he/she consistently considerate and gracious? Is he/she demonstrating active listening skills?

 Finally, don’t be afraid to ask the candidate to demonstrate the response through a role-playing moment as well.

Thoughts to Build On

Do you assess for compassion in your interview process?

Have you clearly defined in your process what behaviors demonstrate compassion, or do you “know it when you see it?”

Does your interview process include a blend of interviewing techniques?

Is your basic interviewing process standardized to insure fairness to all candidates interviewing?

If you are including team interviewing, have all members been trained in interviewing techniques including specific questions to avoid?

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