Importance of Recruitment and Placement
Recruitment and placement of pharmacy personnel are two of the most important tasks a manager can undertake. If a manager finds and hires competent, self-motivated professionals, issues such as motivation and performance are less of a problem. Good hiring practices also diminish employee dissatisfaction and turnover by matching the right person with the right job.
Pharmacy organizations need to exercise great care in recruitment and placement because each employee represents the organization and the profession. All employees who interact with customers help to determine the image they have of your organization. In fact, pharmacy clerks, technicians, and pharmacists are more likely to determine a pharmacy's image than any advertising or promotional events (Holdford, 2003).
Pharmacy employees can be a source of competitive advantage in the marketplace. A good pharmacist can generate significant revenue for a firm by maintaining a loyal patient base and drawing others from competitors. In addition, satisfied patients are more likely to recommend a pharmacy to friends and family and purchase greater quantities of merchandise.
Choosing the wrong employee for a position can be quite expensive. If that employee leaves after a short time, the employer must bear the cost of recruiting, selecting, and training a replacement. It has been estimated to cost hospitals, from $20,387 to $88,807, to replace pharmacists (ASHP, 2011). Including the money lost from lowered productivity and lost business, the cost of losing established physicians and managers can rise to well over $100,000 (Waldman et al., 2004). Table 12-1 shows some of the costs that might be seen with the loss of a pharmacist.
Table 12-1. Negative Consequences Associated with Losing a Pharmacist ||Download (.pdf)
Table 12-1. Negative Consequences Associated with Losing a Pharmacist
- The pharmacy may have to reduce store hours until a replacement can be found.
- Patients may go to competitors.
- The remaining pharmacists and employees have to cover the responsibilities of the missing pharmacist. This can increase employee stress and lead to more overtime costs to the pharmacy.
- The employer incurs costs to replace the pharmacist. The employer may pay to advertise the position in newspaper want ads or professional journals. Salary costs are spent on personnel involved in related clerical and interviewing tasks.
- Personnel need to be freed up from normal responsibilities to train newly hired pharmacists.
- The new pharmacist may spend up to 1 year or more before becoming 100% productive to the employer. Productivity is reduced while the pharmacist learns job details such as the location of drugs, computer system procedures, and proper handling of insurance forms.
Hiring problem employees can also be expensive. Hiring employees who are unproductive or have personal problems can be a nightmare for managers. Many of these employees are able to keep their jobs by riding the line between minimal acceptability and termination. Even problem employees who eventually are terminated can sow conflict within an organization, reduce job enjoyment, increase workplace tension, hinder teamwork, and cause a host of other problems. Problem employees also can take up significant managerial time in counseling, dispute mediation, and oversight. Therefore, it is essential that pharmacy managers do all they can to choose the right employees.
Recruiting consists of all activities associated with attracting qualified candidates to fill job vacancies. The purpose of recruiting is to attract the most qualified candidates to interview for vacant job positions. Recruiting is easier when employers are proactive in their recruitment efforts. Proactive recruitment occurs when employers (1) continually recruit and network, (2) maintain a pleasant work environment where people want to be employed, and (3) establish a positive image in the minds of potential recruits.
Proactive recruiting of pharmacy employees should be a continuous activity that takes place regardless of whether a position is open or not. Well-run pharmacies continually develop contacts with potential employees who can be approached once an opening occurs. Contacts can be developed at professional meetings and social gatherings or through work. A pharmacy employer also can cultivate potential employees by hiring pharmacy students for part-time work and mentoring pharmacy students in advanced-practice experiences (i.e., clerkships).
Proactive recruiters also recognize that it is easier to find candidates the more desirable the job, so they attempt to build a desirable work environment. These employers try to improve conditions such as employee rewards and recognition, inclusion of employee input into work decisions, benefits, and quality of daily work life. Employers who treat employees well have fewer problems with job turnover because employees do not want to leave. When vacancies occur, they are filled quickly and with less effort because potential employees seek them out. In many cases, want ads are unnecessary because applicants apply as a result of word-of-mouth recommendations from current employees.
Employers who are successful in offering the most desirable jobs often develop a reputation as employers of choice. Employers of choice have a positive image in the community and can pick and choose among the best candidates for positions. In addition, employees do not easily leave employers of choice.
Wegmans, a supermarket chain that employs pharmacists, was ranked third on CNN/Money's “Top 100 Employers” list in 2011 (CNN/Money, 2011). Among its employee benefits, Wegmans challenges workers to eat more fruits and vegetables and walk more. Last year, it also provided 8,000 free health screenings to employees including flu and H1N1 vaccine shots. At Wegmans, there is strong competition for the limited number of job openings that arise, permitting the company to select the most qualified applicants from a ready supply of excellent candidates
In addition to word-of-mouth recommendations, advertisements are a common way of recruiting pharmacy employees. The first step in advertising is deciding how wide of a net to cast for potential employees. Will local advertising bring in sufficient numbers of qualified candidates, or should advertising be regional or national? The answer to this question will be influenced by issues of reach and cost; that is, the more people reached by the ads, the greater is the cost. If local advertising is chosen, then advertisements can be placed in hometown newspapers or state professional journals. For regional or national advertisements, employers can use national newspapers (e.g., New York Times), national professional journals (e.g., Journal of the American Pharmacists Association), or Internet job Web sites (e.g., www.careerbuilder.com). The choice of medium depends partly on the amount budgeted for advertising the position. The organization must consider the cost effectiveness of the various advertising media. It has to determine whether there are enough sufficiently qualified persons in the local area to justify local advertising. If so, then local advertising probably is more cost effective, especially because qualified candidates from distant areas would be reimbursed for travel for the interview. Another consideration is targeting an appropriate demographic. For example, if an organization is seeking a pharmacist with considerable years of experience for a management position, it need not advertise in a newspaper or magazine that targets teenagers. On the other hand, if an organization consistently recruits for a large number of positions, it should be conscious about trying to reach populations diverse in age, gender, and race/ethnicity.
After choosing the advertising medium, an advertisement is written. When writing any advertisement, it is important to keep it simple. It should not make false promises and should not use hyperbolic rhetoric or technical jargon. It should only capture the eye of qualified candidates and persuade them to contact the pharmacy.
Placement refers to candidate application, screening, interviewing, selection, and hiring processes. In many organizations, pharmacists are assisted in this process by corporate personnel offices. Personnel offices offer valuable assistance in advertising positions, managing applications and paperwork, screening candidates, advising about legal and policy questions, checking references, and extending job offers. They free pharmacy personnel to develop criteria for selecting employees, to interview qualified candidates, and to make the final choice.
It is important to emphasize, however, that pharmacists need to monitor and influence the personnel office's performance in the placement process. One reason is that personnel employees do not understand as well as pharmacists the requirements of pharmacy practice. They may emphasize different knowledge and capabilities than pharmacists. A second reason is that the personnel office does not have to suffer as much from the consequences of a bad employee choice. Pharmacy personnel will bear the brunt of a bad employee hire. Therefore, it is incumbent on pharmacists to maintain as much control over the process as necessary to ensure a good choice.
One of the first steps in hiring is for a candidate to fill out a job application. Job applications serve two purposes. The first is to help screen unqualified candidates. Applications can identify whether candidates have the necessary training, degrees, and experience for the job. The second purpose of applications is to provide background about the candidate for the interview.
Once they have submitted an application, applicants are screened to see if they meet the requirements of the job. Screening is a process that attempts to weed out unqualified applicants from the pool of potential candidates. Common screening criteria include lack of job qualifications (e.g., license, degree, residency, or experience), poorly completed applications (e.g., misspelling, missing information, or sloppy writing), and negative applicant history (e.g., felony conviction, lying on the application, or frequent changes in employment).
Screening criteria are developed from job analyses. Job analyses are systematic reviews of the requirements of a job (Donnelly et al., 1995). Job analyses attempt to identify some of the following aspects of a job:
- Behaviors, tasks, and outcomes required of the employee on the job
- Skills, capabilities, and knowledge required
- Physical requirements
- Required information, technology, and resources
- Expected interpersonal relationships
- Budget and managerial responsibilities
The job analysis provides useful information for both employees and managers. For managers, information from the job analysis is used in writing job descriptions, interviewing job candidates, screening candidates, and setting performance criteria. For employees, information from the job analysis tells employees how work is to be done and the outcomes expected.
When qualified candidates are identified, interviews are scheduled. Qualified candidates normally are ranked according to desirability, with the top-ranked candidates receiving initial invitations to interview. If a candidate is not chosen from the first round of applicant interviews, a second round is scheduled, drawing from the remaining pool of applicants.
Preparation for an interview is as important for the interviewer as it is for the candidate. The following is a suggested list of interview preparation steps:
- Send information about the position to the candidate. It is helpful to provide candidates with specific information about the job description and standards for performance to help them prepare for the interview.
- Identify interview objectives. It is important to ask yourself what you want to achieve with the interviews. For example, if you have acute, immediate needs, you may only consider candidates who are available immediately. However, if your interest is long term, you may be willing to wait for an excellent candidate to graduate from pharmacy school or complete a commitment made to another employer.
- Review the position description and performance standards. The position description and performance standards will form the basis of your interview questions. Examples of a position description and performance standards are provided in Table 12-2.
- Develop a list of interview questions. Pay particular attention to assessing the requirements of the job specified in the performance standards.
- Study the applications and résumés. Look for accomplishments and credentials on which you want the candidate to expand. Also note frequent job changes, gaps in employment, demotions, inconsistencies in history, or incomplete information on references about which you want to learn more.
- Schedule a quiet, uninterrupted interview. It shows disrespect to the candidate if you permit interruptions and distractions from giving your full attention to the interview.
- Alert coworkers whom you want the candidate to meet so that they can schedule a time to meet.
Table 12-2. Sample Job Description and Performance Standards for a Hospital Pharmacist ||Download (.pdf)
Table 12-2. Sample Job Description and Performance Standards for a Hospital Pharmacist
Responsible for safe distribution and drug administration for patient care, supervising technicians, order entry, drug monitoring, and providing drug information to nurses and physicians
Bachelor's degree (5-year program) or advanced pharmacy degree (Pharm.D. or M.S.) from an accredited college of pharmacy, hospital pharmacy experience preferred, licensure or eligibility for licensure
Dispenses medications in accordance to all state and federal laws
Clinical skills and professional judgment
Integrates clinical, procedural, and distributive judgments using acceptable standards of practice to achieve positive patient outcomes
Prioritizes work to ensure that all tasks are completed in a timely manner
Fosters favorable relations between hospital personnel, patients, coworkers, families, visitors, and physicians. Accepts chain of command, supervision, and constructive criticism
Written documentation and communication
Follows all state and federal laws, regulatory agency rules, and hospital policies and procedures regarding written documentation. Consistently, clearly, and concisely communicates oral and written information to all hospital personnel, physicians, and patients
Provides oversight and feedback to pharmacy technicians that ensures quality care and adherence to departmental policies and procedures
Attendance and punctuality
Meets all hospital policies regarding attendance and punctuality
Most interviews follow a relatively predictable number of steps. The first step consists of introductory small talk designed to put the candidate at ease. Rather than jumping immediately into the questioning, a few minutes may be spent developing some rapport with the candidate. After the small talk, interview questions are posed of the candidate. When the questioning phase is finished, the interviewer describes and promotes the job to the candidate. At this point, candidates typically ask questions of the interviewer about the job. At the end of the interview, applicants either meet with other interviewers or are given a tour of the facilities.
Interviews can be conducted in several different ways. The traditional interview attempts to engage candidates in a general discussion about themselves. A common question from a traditional interview might be, “Tell me a little about yourself” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Situation (or role-play) interviews direct applicants to describe how they would handle a difficult imaginary situation. For example, “You are the pharmacy manager, and one of your employees has just told you that another worker is stealing merchandise. What would you do?” Situation interviews assess candidates' problem-solving capabilities and communication. Stress interviews attempt to replace the polite conversation seen in traditional interviews with a deliberate attempt by the interviewer to unnerve the candidate with blunt questions (e.g., “Why would a person with your background want to work here?”), interruptions, and persistent pursuit of a subject. It attempts to discern candidate preparation and ability to handle stress. Behavioral interviews try to evaluate an applicant's past behavior, experience, and initiative by asking for specifics about past events and the candidate's role in those events. Classic behavioral questions start with “Give me an example when you…” or “Describe your worst…” Behavioral interviewing is based on the assumption that past behavior best predicts future behavior. In many cases, interviewers employ more than one style in an interview.
Other tools used by some employers to select candidates are standardized personality and skills tests. Their use stems from a belief that persons with certain personality traits (e.g., one who employs a particular leadership style) may be best suited for a position or may fit best within a company's culture. Similarly, a person may have to demonstrate one or more particular abilities on a skills test to minimally qualify for a job.
The use of standardized tests has limitations, and thus such tests may not be used to a great extent in health care. One limitation is that they may not validly differentiate potential success in employee candidates. For instance, personality is difficult to accurately assess in humans and its relationship with employee success may not be clear or actionable. Other limitations include potential bias toward minorities and nonnative speakers, inability to apply standardized tests for nonstandardized jobs, the potential to game the exams, and the negative message the tests might send to potential candidates.
Most interviewers have limited experience and are prone to common interview mistakes (Umiker, 1998). One is lack of preparation. Managers who are very busy with immediate problems may be tempted to skimp on interview preparation. However, that savings of time is not a bargain if it leads to a bad hire. Another typical mistake occurs when the interviewer does most of the talking and does not give the candidate an opportunity to speak. It is hard to learn much about a candidate when the interviewer is talking. In other situations, interviewers treat the interview as an inquisition designed to squeeze the candidate into revealing his or her flaws. Although this may reveal some insights about the candidate, it is also likely to drive the candidate to another employer. Finally, some interviewers assume that the candidate wants the position, so no attempt is made to sell its benefits. Any of these mistakes can result in either losing a desirable candidate or choosing the wrong one.
During the interview process, it is important to keep good notes about each candidate. This is essential for keeping details about candidates organized and for documenting the selection process in case any claims of discrimination should occur. It is better to save note taking until immediately after the interview to avoid distracting the candidate during the interview. It is also helpful to develop an interview checklist to structure interview notes. Table 12-3 lists several interview mistakes candidates make frequently that can exclude them immediately from further consideration.
Table 12-3. Interview Mistakes that May Immediately Exclude a Job Candidate from Consideration ||Download (.pdf)
Table 12-3. Interview Mistakes that May Immediately Exclude a Job Candidate from Consideration
- Inappropriate dress or body adornment
- Lack of knowledge about the position and hiring organization
- Being unengaged in the interview
- Responding badly to predictable questions
- Poor body language
- Unclear or irritating speech patterns
- Focusing on self interest over that of the hiring organization
- Showing under-confidence or over-confidence
The final choice of the interviewer often comes down to how well a candidate can address the following questions:
- Can this person perform the basic job? This addresses the ability of the candidate to contribute to the organization's performance. For instance, a good clinical pharmacist who has little dispensing experience may not be chosen for a position in a community pharmacy setting. Although good clinical skills may be helpful in a community position, basic dispensing capabilities are essential.
- How well do the candidate's skills and capabilities mesh with the organization's needs? Sometimes the best employee for a position does not have the greatest credentials or the most talent. In many circumstances, the best employee is the one who can fill skill deficiencies in the organization and complement the talents of other employees.
- Will the candidate make my job easier? Everyone has some self-interest in the selection of a candidate. Successful applicants often highlight how they will be able to solve problems of individuals and the organization.
- Would I want to work with this person? This question deals with the rapport between the applicant and the interviewer. If the rapport is good, the chances of selection are enhanced significantly.
In most cases, a candidate cannot be hired until the personnel department completes a reference check. If everything is found to be acceptable, a compensation package is put together, and an offer is extended. Once again, it is important that the pharmacy department be involved in the process to ensure that an offer is not mishandled. For example, if an uncompetitive compensation package is put together for the candidate, pharmacy personnel may need to argue for a better one. Once an applicant accepts a position, the hard part of HRM begins.
Hiring is just the first step in the HRM process. Once hired, employees must be given the training and feedback necessary to do their jobs. There are many reasons why employees may not perform their tasks as they should. Table 12-4 gives a list of them (Fournies, 1999). A quick scan of the list indicates that employees either do not know (1) what they are supposed to do or (2) how to do it and/or (3) they benefit from not doing it. Managers must communicate to employees what is expected of them, train them to do it, and provide feedback about how well they are doing and how they might improve. The remainder of this chapter addresses how employees can achieve these goals.
Table 12-4. Reasons Why Employees Do Not Always Do What They Are Supposed to Do ||Download (.pdf)
Table 12-4. Reasons Why Employees Do Not Always Do What They Are Supposed to Do
- They don't know what they are supposed to do.
- They don't know why they should do it.
- They don't know how to do it.
- They think something else is more important.
- There are no positive consequences for them doing it.
- There are no negative consequences for them not doing it.
- They are rewarded for not doing it.
- They are punished for doing what they are supposed to do.
- They are not and will never be capable to perform as desired.
- They have personal problems that get in the way.