Here are the hiring best practices to get the right people in the right position for maximum performance (and enjoyment!).
Employees are the best and worst parts of owning a business. This conundrum is not unique to the independent pharmacy space. I get people questions every week: ‘How can I get my employees to show up on time?’ or ‘How can I get my employees to get off their cell phone?’. These problems often stem from hiring the wrong person in the first place. Tips for dealing with those turkeys employees will come in another blog. For now, let’s focus on improving your hiring process, so you get rockstars in the first place.
Ugh, the dreaded text/email/phone call. I plan on leaving in just a few weeks, says one of your employees. Hopefully, you are meeting with each employee regularly to have a rapport with them, and you both know if the job is a good one. Assuming you have a great culture (if not, call Travis at Pharmfurther), great and critical employees still leave through no fault of yours or theirs. This week my PIC decided to give his notice to be closer to family. It wasn’t a total surprise as he has been open about the struggles with the distance, but it still is a shock that it is happening now and an incredible burden to replace him.
Hiring employees is not fun. There I said it. It doesn’t matter which business; pharmacy, youth sports, sales team, marketing team, or any other position. Hiring high performing employees takes a lot of time and energy. I will walk you through my process in hopes that it makes your hiring time a little less burdensome for you. The key to getting high-performing employees is to make the hiring process rigorous enough to weed out weak candidates quickly.
- Gather good candidates
- Leverage assessments
- Interview and thin the herd
- Working interview
- Job offer
Gather Good Candidates
The first step in the process is critical to getting the entire hiring experience off on the right foot. There are many online hiring platforms, and for pharmacists and technicians, there are many Facebook groups that support jobs in each state. Your first task is to get your job opening read by as many potential candidates as possible. I prefer to use LinkedIn, Indeed, and Facebook. I use Indeed as my foundation for the job posting, all the details are in there, and I use that link to post everywhere else. This preference is because I like Indeed’s dashboard and messaging better.
Weeding Out Applicants
Once you post your job, you will often get a lot of applications. Many of these applicants don’t remotely qualify. Here’s the trick I use to weed out a majority of candidates right from the get-go. I don’t evaluate any candidate until they respond to my initial message to them after they apply. Here’s the breakdown.
- Applicant applies online
- I immediately send a message to the candidate
- Most candidates don’t respond, so I never waste my time on them
- Those that do respond move onto the next step
My message isn’t magical, but it does require the candidate to take action. Here is a summary of what I say and what I ask for.
Thank you for your interest in joining ABC Pharmacy. Our team here is a high performing team, and we want to add other high performers. We have an intense process for hiring to make sure that we find the true Rock Stars. Here is an overview of our hiring process.
- Submit your application *Done!
- Submit a written assessment *Details in this email
- Complete a TTI assessment, if selected
- Participate in a phone interview, if selected
- Participate in a group/working interview, if selected
- Receive a job offer, if selected
Congrats on completing step 1.
Step 2. Please find several questions below. Please submit your responses to owner@ABCpharmacy.com. You can submit it in the body of the email or as a document attached to the email. Our hiring manager will reach out to you if you are selected to continue the process.
Question 1: Why do you think you are a good fit for this role?
Question 2: Describe what has excited you about your previous roles.
No matter what type of job, from low level to managerial, I have found that most candidates don’t complete step 2. When a candidate does complete step 2, I immediately send them a link to our TTI assessment. A TTI helps us evaluate if the person is a fit for our role and an excellent addition to our team. Dobbie and Steve are the gurus of hiring and team development. Not only have they helped me in many businesses, but they have helped many other pharmacy owners transform their team and culture. TTI assessments are suitable for any role in any business, in my opinion.
There are other assessments out there for different types of positions. If you are hiring for any sales position, I would highly recommend the OMG assessment. Assess your candidates early in the process can save everyone time. And time is money. The hardest part of using an evaluation is sticking to them. When the results say the candidate is not a good fit, you have to move on from that candidate no matter how much you may have liked them. Otherwise, you will hire a bad fit, and because you like them, you probably won’t fire them as quickly as you need to.
Interview and Thin the Herd
Once a candidate has answered your written questions and passed your assessment, they are worthy of your time for an interview. Many hiring managers and owners struggle with prepping for an interview. They wonder if they are asking the right interview questions. There are three places I go to for my interview questions, 2 of these you can easily copy.
- Korn-Ferry (interview questions and skills cards)
- Interview questions from TTI assessment
- My experience
I have linked to the Korn-Ferry system above. It helps you to ask ‘Tell me’ and ‘Describe at time’ questions. It is easy to get in a rut of yes/no questions, exactly what you don’t want in an interview. The TTI gives you fantastic questions, and Dobbie will help train you or your hiring manager in the entire process. While leverage systems and processes are vitally important, don’t overlook your own experience. Ask the questions that are important to you, your pharmacy, your culture, and your mutual future success.
The Working Interview
I could write a whole book on this process as I am passionate about its effectiveness for both the candidate and the pharmacy. I created this working interview process 15 years ago after having some horrible hiring failures. Yep, I hired crappy people. It seemed that overnight, candidates would change from these fantastic people I interviewed into unknown monsters once hired. What I discovered is that people create a facade when interviewing. Gasp! Please give me some grace. I was young and naive and thought everyone was transparent like myself. Lesson learned.
I decided I needed to spend more time with candidates and in the environment of the pharmacy. This time would allow me to see their responses to various situations, see what questions they would ask, and get them to interact with my other team members. The working interview was born.
Working Interview Basics
Here are the basics of a working interview. When you are down to 1-2 candidates, schedule each candidate for a full day in the pharmacy. Have the candidate shadow your current team and show them how everything works in your pharmacy. See what questions they ask. It is essential that you, the owner, step away during this process. Let them interact and ask questions to your team without you observing. When it is lunchtime, send them to lunch, your treat, with some team members they haven’t had much interaction with.
During the second half of the day, watch them perform some appropriate duties. For example, watch an RPH check a prescription or how quickly a technician can put away drug stock. Leave the last 30 minutes of the day for an exit interview. Get their feedback and give them yours. I recommend never to provide a job offer at this time. Not only might you have other candidates, but you want to get your team’s feedback on the candidate. Let the candidate know you will reach out with the next steps after consulting with your team.
At the end of the working interview, I also pay my candidates. I write them a check for the going rate for their position. You will want to check with your HR advisor to ensure legal compliance. These working interviews were always below the $600 mark, so there wasn’t much to worry about. Suppose you have a candidate perform any licensed duties, aka check a prescription. In that case, you want to make sure that they have the legal authority to do so, and I recommend that your employed staff redo any licensed work that the candidate performs. You can do this by double-checking prescriptions or listening in on calls to physician offices, as some examples.
The Job Offer
Once you have selected the candidate you want to hire, it is time to offer them the job. During this entire process and spending a lot of time with the candidate, you have had several conversations about salary, benefits, and PTO. Before I send the formal offer letter, I will have one final conversation with the candidate. That call goes along these lines:
- I want to extend a job offer to you.
- Review the total package, highlighting the candidate’s critical features (i.e., weekdays only, no nights, PTO).
- Verify when he/she can start.
- Ask for any questions or concerns.
Once you and the candidate have verbally agreed to the job’s details, it is time to send the formal offer. This letter should be happy and should include all details about their job duties. You can have a copy of the job description or scorecard in this letter. Be sure to include expectations such as clinical services or marketing activities. If you have a mandatory waiting period for benefits or if this will be at-will employment, now is the time to spell out those details. Give the candidate three business days or a similarly limited amount of time to accept your offer.
There you’re done! You have hired a great addition to your team. Now take a breath because you get to begin the exciting time of training a new employee!