It’s no secret the employees within an assisted living community are often the crucial difference between a successful facility and one that struggles to find its identity. While having superstar employees enables you to provide exceptional customer service to your residents, hiring staff members who are not the right “fit” destabilizes the workforce by increasing employee turnover within your facility.

Staff turnover can be very costly. It’s estimated that replacing an employee can cost between 30–150% of an employee’s salary or hourly rate. Turnover costs include recruiting, interviewing, and training a new employee to fill the vacant position. More importantly, turnover is costly in terms of decreased morale, poor quality care, and the reputation of your home.

You can avoid unnecessary turnover by implementing a consistent healthcare recruitment process, including screening and interviewing, right from the start. Recruiting and selection should not be done under pressure or in a hurry. To be successful, you must create a plan and use it appropriately.

Starting the Assisted Living Staff Selection Process: First Steps & Initial Screening

Most hiring professionals begin by sorting candidates’ resumes or applications into stacks of Yes / Maybe / No. Starting with your ‘Yes’ candidates, schedule a phone interview with each one to form an initial impression and determine if you’d like to set up a face-to-face interview.

Here are a few sample questions you should ask during your initial healthcare recruitment screening:

  • Are you still interested in being considered for the position? Why?
  • Do you have the license/certification/degree required for this position?
  • When would you be available to begin work?
  • If you are currently employed, why do you want to leave your present position?
  • Why did you apply to our company?

What You Need to Know Prior to Interviewing Your Healthcare Candidates

Planning your interview questions in advance will ensure that you ask each candidate the same questions and you don’t draw a blank during the interview. Consistent questioning allows you to make fair comparisons among candidates. Your list of potential interview questions should include inquiries that are specific to the candidate, regarding his or her work history and experiences, as well as questions that are general to all of the candidates for the position.

Manager Tips: How to Best Conduct Questions in an Interview

To learn as much as possible about the candidates, it’s important to ask subjective, open-ended questions. This ensures each candidate provides more than a simple yes or no answer in their response by offering more background information and thoughtful explanations. The purpose of the interview process is to determine if a candidate is the right fit (professionally and personally) for your staff. This is your opportunity to learn all you can about the candidate.

Typical Open-Ended Questions Assisted Living Management Can Ask Candidates During an Interview:

  • Opinions on the work environment.
  • Past experiences as they relate to getting along with others.
  • Acceptance of work assignments.
  • Ability to focus on the customer.

Good Sample Questions Healthcare Leaders Should Ask Candidates During an Interview:

  • Tell me about your most difficult boss.
  • What was the worst mistake you ever made at work?
  • What was your most boring (or your most interesting) job?
  • Tell me about your most exciting contribution to your last employer.

It is equally important to know and recognize the types of questions that, by law, cannot be asked during the interview process. This helps to eliminate any “hot button” topics that may allude to discrimination during your healthcare recruitment process.

Example Questions that Senior Living Managers Need to Avoid During an Interview:

  • What was your maiden name?
  • What are your plans for child care while you are working?
  • What clubs or organizations do you belong to?
  • Are you planning to have children?

Why Timely Post-Interview Evaluations Are Necessary For Healthcare Managers

While a candidate’s answers and interview performance are still fresh in your mind, gather your interview team together to share final observations. Use the following questions to kick-off your discussion with your internal team:

  • Will this candidate fit in with the present employees?
  • Can this candidate work within the culture of our home?
  • How will this candidate demonstrate our mission?

Healthcare recruitment should be an ongoing, year-round activity with the goal of filling new positions in a timely manner, without too many delays.

To create a comprehensive healthcare recruitment plan for your facility, use SeniorLivingU’s Management Reference For Executive Directors manual for instruction on how to create a recruitment plan, attract qualified applicants, screen for star performers, and make the final selection.