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How can I find good candidates for my open staff nurse positions?

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What does it take to be successful on your unit? You probably already know this, but if not, be sure that you have a clear picture of whom you seek. It is likely that your HR department has carefully determined the competencies and qualifications of the successful person for the role under consideration, but they may not know the intricacies of each unit. Talk with HR department to ensure they have a good understanding of the open position.

Performance is based ability, motivation, opportunity, and culture.

Consider the knowledge, competencies, and experience required for successful performance on your unit. You will gather data on knowledge and experience from the résumé. You can gather this information in the interview. Some of this information will be garnered from the résumé in terms of education, experience, licenses, and certifications.

You'll need to discover what motivates the candidates and then determine if your unit and organization provides those types of motivators. Nurses need to be intrinsically motivated toward their jobs, meaning that they enjoy working toward meaningful goals, and they are motivated by learning and using their skills so that they stay challenged. Other intrinsic motivators include personal growth, helping others grow, and making a difference in someone else's life. Extrinsic motivators include money, recognition, status, power, title, and social status. You will be able to determine motivation during the interview by asking questions about what they like best and least in their previous jobs. You will be able to tell from their responses if the current position is a good fit for them.

They will have plenty of opportunity to use most of their nursing skills, but will they have the opportunity to use all their skills on your unit? You might be interviewing someone who loves to make presentations. Will he or she have the opportunity to do that while working on your unit? Although this isn't typically inherent in staff nurse roles, you might be able to find opportunities for him or her to use this skill. Someone else might love technology and although there is certainly some interaction with technology, is it enough or might there be projects, such as an electronic health record rollout where his or her talents could be used.

Will this person thrive in your organization's culture? You need to assess if this would be a good fit for them. Therefore, it is important that you know what your cultural characteristics are. Find out what they liked most and least about their previous organizations and determine how well they match yours. Some factors you will listen for include pace of change, recognition programs, opportunities for growth, opportunities for advancement, degree of autonomy, shared governance, etc. Determine whether their needs match what your organization offers.

Hiring the person who has the skills, motivation, and the opportunity to use their skills and who fits into your culture will be productive quicker, enjoy more job satisfaction, and will tend to stay with you during good times and bad. They will fit into your team better and enjoy collegial relationships if they are a good match for the job, you, your team, and the organization.

-- Patty Kubus, RN, MBA, PhD

(July 2011)