Although selecting new staff to add to the team is one of the most important roles nurse managers play in relation to recruitment and retention, their interview skills typically are not addressed. Nurse managers often are assumed to have such skills when they do not. Therefore, an important part of developing nurse managers is to help them acquire the skills to choose appropriate staff.
For example, although nurse managers are under intense pressure to fill vacant positions, we need to move away from hiring people because their licenses are clean and they can start right away. The pressure to fill slots can never be an excuse to hire any person who appears qualified. Support managers in making decisions that benefit the entire facility when they choose not to hire particular individuals-the long-term effects on morale and patient safety are not worth the trial-and-error option of hiring individuals who are not right for the job or the situation.
Practical tips to improve hiring skills
Use leadership development to improve the interview and hiring process by educating managers and providing them with resources and tools to guide them through the interview process. Do the following:
- Incorporate interview scenarios in your monthly management meetings
- Ask each manager to bring to the meeting what they feel is the most effective question they ask at an interview
- Provide reference materials that can help the manager improve interview techniques and approaches
- Demonstrate the importance of hiring for character versus hiring for skill through your own interview techniques
- Work with all your nurse managers to address interview options that involve staff
- Provide staff with sample questions that prompt prospective hires to verbalize their skills, rather than having them show a certification card
- Use representatives from the human resources department to educate nurse managers on liability concerns during the interview process, such as those related to discrimination
It is important to help the nurse manager understand that decisions to hire or not to hire will directly affect retention of the staff already on the team. Teaching and guiding them through a process to develop these skills will reveal to them that anyone can look good on paper, but being able to function within the team will only be revealed through skilled interviewing.
Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from HCPro's book, A Practical Guide to Recruitment & Retention: Skills for Nurse Managers. Check out our latest nursing resources here.