Mind Your (Bedside) Manners: Hiring for Soft Skills in Healthcare


How would you tell someone their father’s died? Or that they have cancer? As a recruiter, those questions probably don’t cross your mind. But for some of the healthcare practitioners you help hire, it’s a challenge they’re faced with on a regular basis.

As technology improves (but before robots take our jobs), healthcare practitioners are getting more time back with their patients. We’ve all had a doctor or nurse who was cold as ice and as a patient that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. On the flipside, a provider who is so laid back you aren’t sure if you’re dying or not isn’t comforting either! The need for top-notch bedside manner – from empathy and humor to listening and communication skills – is more important now than ever. After all, if patients don’t like your providers, they’ll just go to the practice down the street.

So how do recruiters source and HR professionals hire for this new recruitment reality? The answer is in how we search for and find candidates, interview potential hires, and leverage emerging technologies.

Artificial Intelligence

Once HR has their Olympic-sized pool of candidates, it’s time to let the robots take over. Yes, you heard that right. Artificial intelligence has penetrated every industry, even hiring! And while the human touch of recruiting should never disappear, one fascinating application of AI is in speech analysis. Recruiters today are slammed, so they’ve started to enlist the help of voice listening tools to analyze the way candidates answer simple questions over the phone like “what did you do last weekend?” The technology doesn’t listen to what is said, just how it’s said. It assesses word choice, tone and sentence structure to determine personality traits like enthusiasm, empathy and openness to change in speakers. No, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror!

Still, these eyebrow raising AI tools are in their infancy and can only be trusted to take recruiters and hiring managers so far in the process. They can weed out weak performers and outliers, but the real litmus test is with an actual, live human… weird, right?

Situational Questions

Once the candidate list has been pared down, it’s time for the in-person interview. To gauge communication skills, interviewers should ask the candidate to describe a time they’ve dealt with a difficult patient or how they would describe complicated jargon to someone outside the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics. To assess interpersonal skills, interviewers can ask the candidate how they would deliver difficult news to someone. Better yet, the best HR pros should have the candidate practice delivering this news to them.

The way a candidate responds to these situational questions can give HR some insight into how they’d communicate with patients on the job, but until a candidate is brought on board, there’s no foolproof way to assess soft skills – after all, anyone can be perfectly charming in an interview setting! It’s much harder to fake good bedside manner in practice though, so to make sure employees are ready for the modern age of healthcare, the best HR managers never stop assessing their employees’ ability to positively interact with their patients. If not, they risk losing them altogether.

Want to get in front of the millions of qualified healthcare professionals? Visit hiring.nexxt.com to learn how we can introduce you to your Nexxt great hire.

Nexxt is a recruitment media company that uses today’s most effective marketing tactics to reach the full spectrum of talent – from active to passive, and everything in between. Learn more about hiring with Nexxt.

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