That sounds very simple, but it is also very difficult to do.
As a new manager, I had always wondered what makes one candidate stand out and another not make the grade. They may have the same skills and on paper be well suited for the role, but the unknown intangible is their attitude.
While attitude alone can’t win the day, it certainly makes me want to root for that person throughout the interview and candidate-selection process. The right and appropriate attitude is key to finding and being considered for a role in healthcare technology management.
When considering a candidate, I look for a level of engagement—a big marker of their attitude—from the beginning of the process throughout the selection (even if that person is not selected). However, the formula for picking a candidate changes depending on the position.
For example, If I am looking for an operating room biomed, we would look for a person that is self-driven but team-oriented and who has a love for helping face-to-face. Once we find the person with the right attitude and is a great fit, we can then decide if we could we train this person into the role. It is a blend of attitude and train-ability—but the process all starts with attitude.
Let’s also say that we’re looking to hire an entry-level biomed. In that case, we’re looking for someone who is eager to learn, willing to learn from others, and knows that being an entry level tech may mean lots of bench repairs and preventive maintenance work. If we find that the person understands and embraces that, then we could move on to see if this person is great fit and has the chops to grow into a more senior role. Again, this is almost totally an “attitude hire,” as we will be training this person from day one.
The formula can change a bit depending on the role. If we’re looking to hire a clinical systems engineer, we would be looking for a person with more of a blend of skills and attitude. Attitude still leads the way, but we need this person to hit the ground a bit faster. We’ll still look for a great fit, but this one is more difficult—we would not hire a person who is a “great fit” at the cost of the skills we need.
What you should do changes with the situation—maybe you really need to fill a role quickly (be careful as one bad apple…) or you’re hiring for a specific role that only a few people can fill. But always keep in mind that when hiring you are building a team that you will be going into battle with. You want to be sure that team members will work together and care about one another. It is the only way to achieve the goals we are tasked with.
Finally, don’t forget the great candidates who you didn’t hire. If you really like a candidate, and they do not get the role they applied for, go ahead and contact them. Let them know that they did well in the interview and to please keep their eye on the job posting for the next round of hiring. This has been a wonderful way to stay in contact and keep a great candidate interested. You don’t want to have a great candidate get away! I have hired more than a few people who did not get the position they initially applied for in large part because I was impressed with how they reacted. Those candidates stayed engaged to let the leadership team know that they appreciated the opportunity and would like to be considered in the future.
I am hoping you all find the people you want on your teams! I’m always searching for that “great fit.” Attitude is key, and we will take care of the rest.
Donald Armstrong, CBET, CHTM, is a senior biomedical engineering manager at Stanford Health Care in California and a member of the BI&T Editorial Board.