QUESTION: Our Credentials Policy says that applicants for Medical Staff appointment and clinical privileges will be interviewed by the department chair, the Credentials Committee, the Medical Executive Committee, the Chief of Staff, the Chief Medical Officer or the Chief Executive Officer. Is there really any benefit to performing an interview as a part of the credentialing process or should we just eliminate this language from our Policy?
ANSWER: There certainly is some debate about the effectiveness of interviews in predicting future job performance. However, much of the research indicates that unstructured job interviews are ineffective. On the other hand, structured interviews are one of the most effective selection techniques.
In structured interviews, applicants are asked to respond to the same set of questions and their answers are rated on a standard scale. Sounds complicated, right? Not necessarily. We understand that the development of a complex, standard scale for rating would involve the participation of experts; however, a common set of straightforward questions that are structured to elicit information about past behavior (as opposed to questions designed to elicit information about how an applicant would respond in a hypothetical situation) and that are relevant to Medical Staff appointment, measured against a simple rating scale, can be useful. This task shouldn’t be outside of the Credentials Committee’s wheelhouse.
There is always the risk of variability among interviewers, but this could be minimized by having at least two individuals conducting the interview, using the same scale but rating separately, and then comparing notes after the interview to reduce variability in rating.
Like we mentioned earlier, questions about past behavior are key because there is less opportunity for an applicant to provide a response that is not capable of being verified. Interview questions can also elicit information about whether the applicant’s views and practice style are consistent with the medical staff and hospital’s culture.
Q: What attracts you to this hospital/why are you interested in working here?
Q: Tell us about a time in which a case of yours was reviewed through the peer review process and how you participated/responded.
Q: Describe a situation in which you were asked to do something beyond your established responsibilities (e.g., service on medical staff committee, fill in a call coverage gap) and tell us how you responded.
Q: Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another physician and how you dealt with that conflict.
Q: What role do you see the nursing staff playing in patient care in the hospital?
If interviewing every applicant simply isn’t an option because of time constraints, interviews should, at the very least, be conducted when there are questions or concerns about the applicant’s qualifications, experience, education, training, or other aspects of his or her practice that have been raised at any time during the review of the application. Thus, rather than having a strict requirement that all applicants will be interviewed, you can adjust your Policy language to instruct that applicants may be interviewed.