Assessing Leaders Through a Structured Interview and Development Process

You can have a solid business plan, offer stellar senior care, employ the best CNAs and skilled nurses available, and have all the capital your communities could ever need; however, if you don’t have effective leadership, none of it will work. Your business plan will flounder, objectives unmet; your caregivers will be directionless and unmotivated; and smoothing over problems in your residences will quickly drain your capital. Effective leaders keep all the moving parts of your communities running smoothly and synchronously, creating an environment conducive to growth and innovation. Selecting and developing those leaders should be one of your highest priorities.

The selection process, when it comes to leaders, can start out much the same as with any employee: you tap your talent pool, contact your recruitment resources, and attract as many applicants as possible. Evaluating those applicants once you have them requires more stringent methods, since the costs involved are much higher.

Structured Interviews

Don’t trust your gut. Leadership roles in your communities are too important to trust to casual conversations and first impressions. In addition to being more legally defensible, a structured interview will ensure you can compare candidates on an apples-to-apples basis. The behavioral questions used in a structured interview are developed by subject matter experts to focus in on those areas of the job that truly matter (core competencies). In Insight’s leadership research among senior living subject matter experts, we have found these to be:

  • Adaptability
  • Building Trust and Accountability
  • Promoting a Client Focus
  • Fostering a Team Environment
  • Maximizing Performance Results

Asking behavioral questions tied to these competencies allows you to view real-life scenarios the candidate has encountered, how they evaluated those scenarios, what they did, and what the outcomes were. It is difficult to fake your way through an interview like this, so you can get in-depth, real-life examples of their thought processes and problem solving skills. Using multiple interviewers is recommended.

During the interview, as you listen to each applicant’s responses, use the E-A-R method, listening for the:

Environment or situation that occurred
Action taken by the candidate
Results of their actions

Give the candidate time to tell you the details. If any of this information is missing, you and your fellow interviewers should ask follow up questions and request different examples.

Structured Evaluations

Going into the interview, interviewers should agree on pre-determined measures of proficiency against the competencies; immediately following the interview, while memories are still fresh, each interviewer should independently review their notes and score the candidate on each of the competencies. These scores should be tied to specific examples the candidate gave to the behavioral questions. These can be used to develop a consensus score among the interviewers; any discrepancies should be discussed, and an agreement should be reached about the candidate’s final score.

A structured interview and structured evaluation help eliminate unconscious biases, create an interview process that is fair and defensible, and increase your chances of hiring the best person for the job—which isn’t necessarily the one that gave you a good gut feeling.

Developing Leaders

The process of developing leadership within your communities is far easier when you have hired people who are highly proficient in the core competencies and individual development plans that are tied to those core competencies. According to Deborah Rowland, in an article published in Harvard Business Review, leadership development programs as they now exist are largely ineffective because they disregard the importance of emotional intelligence. Rowland writes that leaders need to be intuitive and collaborative. When you are able to hone in on and find those candidates who can, for example, innately build trust and foster team environments, you end up far ahead of the competition.

Insight’s Leadership selection system for senior living communities will enhance and strengthen your hiring process as you search for strong leaders. Please contact us today for more information.

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