Screening strategies: 3 key things to look for in a video interview

One positive outcome of the COVID pandemic is that everyone has become more comfortable with video technology. And for physician recruiters, video interviews have become more valuable than ever as a way to get to know a candidate quickly before advancing them to the next round. Here are three key things to look for in every video interview that will strengthen the effectiveness of your screening process.

1. How engaged is the candidate?

One of the primary cues you should look for when screening a candidate in a video interview is their level of engagement and enthusiasm. This includes responsiveness to questions, genuine interest in the opportunity, and eye contact.

“I can tell within the first five seconds whether a person is really interested in this job,” says Steve Jacobs, physician recruitment manager for Einstein Healthcare Network and president of the Mid-Atlantic Physician Recruiter Alliance. “’I always let candidates know I’m really excited to talk to them and that we hope Einstein is going to be a fit for them. Then I’m looking for something reciprocal that lets us know this isn’t just one of a hundred interviews for them. When an individual is engaged, that’s going to transfer over to patients and other members of my team who are going to meet this person.”

Mark Douyard, senior physician recruiter for Bayhealth Medical Center, agrees. “One of the things that you can hear over the phone — but is really amplified when you see it — is someone’s enthusiasm,” says Douyard. “A visual connection gives you the opportunity to read body language and that makes a difference. We’ve found that we have invited fewer candidates in for site visits, but we have extended the same number of offers. That tells me we’ve been more selective in who we’ve brought in, and I think seeing people virtually makes a difference.”

2. How well prepared is the candidate?

Another important consideration is a candidate’s level of preparedness. Have they taken the time to prepare for the call? Did they join the call on time and test their connection, camera, and microphone beforehand? Are they dressed professionally?

Jacobs and Douyard both assert that preparation speaks volumes about a candidate’s interest in the position. “There are extenuating circumstances, but in general, if you’ve agreed to a time and a place, most of us would expect a candidate to be in a spot where they can dedicate 15-20 minutes to a conversation,” says Douyard.

“It can be challenging when a candidate is emailing you and they can’t get on the call or something is wrong,” says Jacobs. “I don’t necessarily hold it against people, I understand technology is difficult for some, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But it’s also telling if someone takes a while to log on, then they’re not making eye contact or are disengaged — you start to get a real feel for the candidate. A little bit goes a long way toward being able to determine whether they’re a fit for what you’re looking for.”

Physician being screening in a video interview

3. What’s going on in the background?

Jacobs and Douyard also say a candidate’s choice of interview location and what’s in the background are important factors they observe during a video interview. Both acknowledge extenuating circumstances. A candidate may be in a residents’ lounge, or they may have limited space at home with family members or pets in the vicinity. But both agree candidates can still take care to ensure their setting helps the discussion, rather than distracts from it.

“The person is right in front of me, but I’m also looking behind them to see where they’re interviewing,” says Jacobs. “I want to see they have put some effort into organizing their background or even a blank wall, versus laundry or dirty dishes. If they prepare a room or a desk and it’s neat and tidy — maybe a plant or something in the background — it gives the caller the impression they have their act together and they’re ready for the interaction. It’s a reasonable expectation for candidates to put a little effort into what’s behind them.”

Remember to do your part

In addition to setting high expectations for candidates, Jacobs and Douyard hold themselves to a high standard for representing their organizations to candidates.

Both recommend dedicating a quiet space to conduct an interview and using a professional background and setting. They also carefully communicate and share information on the virtual platform well in advance to ensure candidates have time to conduct technology checks.

“We always check with candidates to ensure they’ve downloaded Zoom or Teams — to help them  prepare,” says Jacobs.

Both emphasize the importance of their own preparation, as well.

“I review their CV, I look at where they’ve been, what they’ve done, maybe an interesting research project that they’ve been involved in, so I can ask specific questions related to them and their experience,” says Douyard.

Try to make a real connection

Most importantly, both use the interview to make a personal connection and determine whether a candidate is a strong cultural fit.

“My interview style is always to get to know the person before I get to know the doctor,” says Jacobs. “That’s why it’s important for me to feel — and it really is a feeling — that this is going to be a good interaction. I also reverse it and open up about myself sometimes in order to get them to open up about themselves. Once candidates know it’s more of a show and tell, the process is, ‘I’ll tell you about me, you tell me about you.’”

Douyard seeks first to learn what drew candidates to medicine and to their specialty. He also likes to know what appeals to them about his organization and geographic area. Beyond that, he encourages asking easy questions that help determine fit.

“I just ask easy questions, throw out softballs. I’m not the guy who’s going to ask an interventional cardiologist, ‘Tell me the last time you had a hard time placing a femoral line.’ That’s somebody else’s job,” says Douyard. “Let’s face it, this is all about fit. If I’m interviewing a dozen family medicine residents, I’m assuming that all 12 of them are going to be clinically capable. So, what separates them out? What separates them out is how well they interact with people and how well they will fit in the organization and with their colleagues.”

Weatherby Healthcare can provide quality locum tenens physicians, PAs, and NPs to provide coverage at your healthcare facility. Give us a call at 954.343.3050 to learn more.