1. Hader, Richard RN, CHE, CPHQ, NE-BC, PhD, FAAN

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Dwindling RN vacancy rates coupled with increasing numbers of new and experienced nurses seeking employment have allowed nurse leaders an opportunity to become more selective in choosing the right candidate to fill an open position. It's time to stop settling for someone who doesn't meet or exceed the expectations of the position!!

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I clearly remember interviewing and subsequently hiring nurses who didn't "wow" me, but I was forced to employ them because I had several openings with very few applicants. Many nurse candidates were well aware that they were in control of the job market and offered little to the position besides a current and valid license. The job market has changed, and now we're in a much better position to raise the bar of performance expectations for all applicants.


Facilitate dialogue with your shared governance council to detail clinical, experiential, and interpersonal qualifications that candidates must demonstrate in order to work within the organization. Don't compromise on these requirements because they're necessary components for building and sustaining a highly functional team.


Experienced nurses should supply references from former employers regarding their clinical competency and ability to manage relationships. Failure on your part to seek out prior employment testimonials may result in hiring a candidate who won't perform to the organization's standards of behavior and performance. New nurses should provide endorsements from faculty members or staff nurse mentors with whom they worked during their clinical experiences.


Most organizations require job candidates to complete a formal application. You should also require the applicant to submit a curriculum vitae (CV) that includes information regarding his or her educational experience, specialty certifications, work or clinical experience and accomplishments achieved while in a specific role, publications, presentations, community activities, professional organizations, and licensure. You should look at the CV to identify achievements, work stability, completeness, and professional presentation. Gaps in employment need to be carefully questioned to ensure there aren't negative reasons for work interruptions. If the CV has misspellings or inappropriate language or grammar, it might be a red flag denoting a lack of attention to detail or poor performance.


You should spend time questioning the candidates' motives for applying to your specific area of responsibility. What contributions do they intend to make to the department or organization? Where do they want their careers to be in 5 years? Are they willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the organization? Are they committed to the clinical specialty or are they using this as a springboard for other opportunities?


During the interview process, you should clearly articulate the expectations of the position, including participation in unit and organizational shared governance councils, commitment to lifelong learning, and a passion for delivering excellence in nursing care. You should appraise candidates regarding their level of professionalism, listening skills, availability, responsiveness, and reliability.


Ensuring that the individuals on your team possess similar ideas and values will instill a culture of excellence. Make sure your staff members have the opportunity to conduct a peer interview to determine if the candidate is a right fit. Don't rush hiring decisions-you can afford to be selective.


Richard Hader

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