The Beyond the Practice Interview Series has been created to give you an insight and advantage into the professional side of anesthesia through interviews conducted with leaders in the industry. In this interview, the Anesthesia Recruiter Team Lead: Michael Walters gives you a behind the scene look at what happens from the time he receives your CV to making an offer and other important information that will help you land the anesthesia job you want.
BagMask: We all wonder what happens after an anesthesia CV is sent to a recruiter. What are the steps that you go through after receiving a CV to the point where you make a job offer?
Michael: Great question. Once I collect the CV I look through it. I’m obviously looking at the experience, but I also often do a quick Google search of the name. You can find some interesting things that I would want to know about before I interview someone.
Once I have done my initial CV review and I decide to move forward with this person, I’ll shoot them an email to schedule a phone interview or just ask for their available times. I always ask for time zones, since we recruit nationwide. Once we have a date and time I send a confirmation email so there is no miscommunication.
I follow that up with a series of preliminary informational material including flyers and documents about our group and benefits. I give them the basics. I don’t want to tell them everything there is to know about it. That’s what part of my interview is for. I also ask them to glance through the material prior to our interview.
When we do have our phone interview it’s kind of nice to find out which providers did glance through the information or didn’t. A lot of times that’s a telling sign of how interested they are in the position.
My interviews usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes. They can certainly go longer. I’ve been on the phone for an hour and a half before, but that was the time the candidate needed for their questions. But generally 30 to 45 minutes. And I set the expectation ahead of time; I want them to know that I need at least 45 minutes for them to block out.
I start every phone interview explaining who I am and what my role is as an anesthesia recruiter for Vituity. I let them know what my objectives are on this call and then I start asking questions. They consist of your regular interview questions and background questions. I try to get an idea of what they’re looking for, why they’re looking for those things, and where they’re looking to work. Then the next step is discussing our group Vituity. I need to make sure anesthesiologist have an understanding of what the partnership and how it would apply to them. And if they’re an AA or a CRNA, the conversation is a little bit different when discussing the partnership because it is only for the physicians, but I still want to make sure they understand how it fits into Vituity.
The next step is discuss the clinical practice or practices, depending if they are interested in multiple sites. I provide them the basic information such as case mix, daily or weekly schedule, call schedule and then discuss the compensation for each of these sites. There’s a new employment law in some states that you need to tell them what the compensation is or at least the range for the specific position they’re interviewing for. I don’t know if it’s hit all the states, but we as a company have decided to abide by that, so I always have to be prepared to share that information.
Once we cover these topics, I then simply ask them if they’re interested in pursuing the more formal interview with the hiring manager. For physicians that would be the medical director and for anesthetists it the would be the lead anesthetist.
Assuming they say yes, I present their anesthesia CV and all my notes to that hiring manager or their administrative assistant. I will reach out to the candidate within 24 to 48 hours just to confirm their interest in moving forward with setting up an interview. Candidates that live locally often are invited for just an onsite interview. Candidate that do not live nearby we start with a phone interview. Then we invite them for the onsite visit if the phone interview went well.
After the site visit happens, I’ll follow up with the hiring manager. Again, the hiring manager is the lead anesthetist or medical director. I gather their thoughts on the interview and gauge the interest in presenting an offer to that candidate. I reach out next to the candidate and we discuss their level of interest in joining the practice. I also want to know if we’re going against any other offers out there. That way we know the time frame that we need to get back to them.
At this point, when both parties are interested in moving forward I request the references. I don’t like checking references before that initial interview. Anesthesia providers often interview at multiple places. I always want to respect their references’ time and I don’t want to waste it if we’re not prepared to make an offer.
After the references are checked then we make an offer. The phone call will come from the medical director, the lead anesthetist or myself with the offer. We’re going to make our best offer up front and we ask for a verbal acceptance. The last step after a verbal “yes” is sending a formal offer letter for a signature and the hiring paperwork to begin the on-boarding process.
BagMask: You mentioned you ask questions during the initial phone screening. What’s one of your favorite questions to ask people and why?
Michael: I think asking about what locations they are looking to work at is very important. So if someone is interested in working in Sacramento, California, that’s great because we have locations there. But, I also want to know where else they’re interviewing. If they tell me they’re also interviewing in Miami, Florida and Minnesota and in New York, then I really don’t know that Sacramento is of that much of an interest to them. So I always want to know why. What are their ties to the area?
Not having ties to the area doesn’t mean they’re not going to be a great candidate. However, you have to consider with no ties they might only be there 1 to 2 years if they really don’t like it that much. So I always like to know why they want to be in a specific area.
For CRNAs, it’s extremely important to understand how they feel about working with anesthesiologists and how much autonomy they want to have. I want to know if they’re hoping in 2 to 3 years to go out on their own and work completely autonomous of an anesthesiologist or if they more interested working within a care team model long term.
BagMask: After doing so many phone interviews, are you able to pick up pretty quickly how the interview is going to go?
Michael: It usually comes within the first five minutes of the phone call when I am explaining my expectations for the call. At this point I get interrupted sometimes. “Hold up, Michael. Stop. How much does this job pay?” That’s the initial, “Oh, man, I don’t know if this person is going to be a great candidate for us.” Not that pay is not important, it’s extremely important, but I want to get an idea of what they’re looking for and why before I tell them all the specifics of the job. So if that’s something that comes up right away, that is a huge red flag.
BagMask: If there are serious red flags, such as malpractice issues, is that something that’s a showstopper or can it sometimes be worked around?
Michael: It depends. If it’s a pretty desirable position and there are several candidates and there is a red flag out there such as a malpractice case or maybe it’s just a sanction on a license then I think that most groups would prefer to avoid the credentialing trouble. So they pass on that candidate. But if we really like this candidate and we know they would be the best fit, we will get all the involved parties together. That means the hospital, the anesthesia group, the candidate and we get all the information regarding the red flag. The main issues to resolve are whether will we be able to provide malpractice and if the hospital will credential them.
It’s best if the candidate is upfront also about any issues they have right away, because it will be revealed when we do our background check. We don’t want to go down the full interview process, get ready to make an offer to someone, which often means that we’re letting others know that, “Hey, we’re already making an offer to someone else,” just to find out we can’t get that person credentialed or we can’t underwrite them for malpractice.
So if there is that background issue, and it’s a very desirable candidate, we have to address that before we get to that final onsite interview stage. And often you can tell how open that candidate is with you and how willing they are to work with you on that issue. You can tell how easy the process is going to be to get them credentialed and such. If they’re holding things back it’s just a double red flag and usually we move on from that point.
BagMask: Great information. I was wondering about another uncomfortable scenario for an anesthesia candidate. I’m sure this has happened before. A person gives you a verbal yes, then the offer letter shows up and they start to have second thoughts. What’s the best way for them to let you know, “Hey, I’m not going to accept this job”? is it by picking up the phone or sending you an email?
Michael: I would 100% prefer a phone call. Not because I’m necessarily going to talk them out of it, but I want to make sure I understand why they’re having second thoughts or why they’re now declining the job. Is it something at our end that could be addressed? It might be something that the person misunderstood. I could clear that up for them and then they’ll be happy to be able to accept the job.
There’s no ill will for someone that doesn’t accept the job. If a candidate doesn’t think that we are right for them, then we’re probably not. We want to make sure we clear that up at the beginning, not six to twelve months in after we’ve worked and helped train the them, and they then just end up leaving afterwards. And certainly for me, I want to know if there is something we’ve done that made them have second thoughts. I want that constructive criticism so we can fix it for the next candidate.
BagMask: That’s awesome because I think a lot of people are very scared of retracting an accepted offer – I made this verbal yes, but I’m not really feeling it anymore. And in the long run it’s best for both groups. I think it’s going to put a lot of people at ease to know they can do what’s best for them.
Michael: Yeah, we want them to be comfortable where they are going to practice and you certainly don’t want to burn bridges. My advice is always to have the class and respect and professionalism, accepting or declining a job.
BagMask: And then my last question is what’s your hope for all the job seekers out there?
Michael: My hope is that they know what they want. I love when the job seekers come to the interview and they’re confident in what they want and are not afraid to say, “I really don’t like doing OB”, and if I have a job that’s heavy OB we cross that off the list for them. I want them to be happy in their new position. I also want them to be in a location that fits so they can have a long and successful anesthesia career.