CHG Healthcare has been on Fortune’s Best Places to Work list for the past ten years, and for good reason. The company matches nurses, doctors and specialists with areas and hospitals that have medical shortages. With generous pay, frequent celebrations and rewards for top performers, they often have hundreds of applicants for open positions. We talked to their Director of Talent Acquisition, Steven Huff, about their strategy for hiring for quality, which has lead to an 85 percent retention rate.
Before a job description even goes up, a member of CHG’s talent acquisition team meets with the person who will eventually be the new hire’s supervisor, or the hiring leader. These meetings are called “Way of Hiring” meetings. Steven explained that these meetings are ways to truly understand what the hiring leader is looking for in a candidate. They do this for each job opening, even if it’s a position they’ve hired for before.
Steven used an example of a marketing coordinator. If they hire one in January and an additional one in June, the job isn’t necessarily the same. “Although titles are the same, the needs might be a little different,” said Steven. “That marketing coordinator may need to know a little more about email marketing or some intricate thing that.”
The Way of Hiring meeting looks at compensation, specific skill needs, culture fit, personality, and more. Once they go through this meeting, the talent acquisition team has a solid foundation and mutual understanding of what a quality candidate will look like for each role.
The Way of Hiring meetings help the talent acquisition team use their applicant tracking systems effectively. Using the new marketing coordinator example, the team would know to specifically look for candidates with email marketing backgrounds, so they can have their ATS filter resumes based on big priorities. Then, the team takes the remaining resumes and manually reviews them to narrow candidates down to a few. Marketing coordinator positions at CHG can often get hundreds of applicants, so this process can take a while, but Steven explained he likes having a good pool, because it means they can be pickier about the quality of their hire.
After Steven and his team narrow down candidates to a few, they conduct phone screenings. During these phone calls, they focus on situational questions, like “Tell me about a time this happened….” or “Give me a specific detail on…” or “Tell me about when you did this…” All of these questions would be customized to match situations based on the role discussed in the Way of Hiring meeting.
“We feel that behaviors or past behaviors are a true indicator of future behaviors. So we want to know what you’ve done in the past to help us understand your fit for this potential future position,” said Steven.
After the screenings, Steven and his team send notes to the hiring leaders, or they’ll line up a phone call to discuss the candidates. Based on that information, the hiring leader will decide who they want to bring in for an in-person interview.
CHG candidates generally meet with the hiring leaders and people on their potential team. Steven and his team help the hiring leaders and teams prepare efficient questions to ask-- this guarantees that there won’t be overlap in the questions people ask in each interview.
While some companies approach interviews as a test for candidates, CHG feels the opposite. The talent acquisition team preps their candidates as much as possible, by telling them what kind of questions there will be and who they’ll be meeting with. They also connect with candidates on LinkedIn to get a better understanding of their background.
“We are an advocate for our candidates,” said Steven. “We want to make sure the candidate is presenting their best self.”
Once the interview process is complete and the TA team and the hiring leader has a consensus on the top candidate, they make an offer.
Steven’s team has a “right-fit” policy for their time to hire-- they’ll wait to hire until they feel they’ve found the highest quality candidate. Steven explained that he understands why recruiters and companies feel pressured to hire quickly, but that pressure might mean that a wrong person gets hired.
Steven’s team once looked at the cost of a bad hire for CHG. He found that if he hired a salesperson who only stayed for a year, they would have invested more than $100,000 in that year alone. The business case for taking time to hire the right person makes complete sense.
By focusing on hiring for quality, they have high retention numbers, incredible engagement and sales revenues that are at the top of the industry.
“When people are engaged in the work that they do, everything else seems to fall into place," said Steven.
All this said, Steven said it’s hard to convince company leaders that quality of hire is often more important than time to hire. He offered this advice to recruiters wanting to change their hiring strategy to focus on quality of hire:
Want a team that’s as engaged as CHG’s? Hire for quality, and use a background screening company to make sure your candidates are a great match.