Screening for Soft Skills in the Veterinary Recruiting Process

When you arrange an interview with a job candidate, you’re probably already aware of their education, work experience and on-the-job skills. What you can’t tell from a resume, however, is what type of soft skills – such as communication, relationship management and strategic thinking – each candidate possesses. Yet these skills are an extremely important part of veterinary recruiting. Thankfully, there are certain techniques you can employ that will help you hone in on candidates that have the attributes you’re after. Here’s the scoop.

It starts with a great story…

To evaluate soft skills in a prospective employee, you can’t simply come out and ask. After all, what candidate isn’t going to say they are a good communicator, flexible, a strategic thinker or a collaborative team player? To assess soft attributes, you must think and act a little bit outside the box, and that starts by asking your interviewees to tell a story.

For instance, let’s assume that during your veterinary recruiting, you want to screen for candidates who have excellent problem solving skills. You might ask each prospect to share a story about a time when they were forced to work with a difficult coworker. Dig deeper and ask them what specific challenges arose from that experience and, most importantly, how they handled those challenges.

You can then replicate this practice to assess for other attributes. For instance:

  • Flexibility – Ask candidates to provide an example of a project or task that required them to learn something new. Ask how they felt about and approached that learning and what the end results were.
  • Time Management – Ask candidates to tell you about a time when they were required to juggle multiple projects or were faced with a tight deadline. Ask them, specifically, how did they organize and manage their time.
  • Communication – Ask candidates to share a story about when they had to work within a team, how they handled internal collaboration and communication amongst team members and what the outcome was.
  • Leadership Potential – Ask candidates whether there was ever a time when they had an issue that needed to be resolved during which their manager was unavailable. Have them explain how they handled that situation.

By introducing story telling into the veterinary recruiting process, you’ll gain much more insight into each candidate’s unique strengths and potential red flags. Only descriptions of real-life scenarios can provide this kind of insight. And, of course, feel free to probe deeper for additional information as the candidates tell their stories.

Ask for stories from others…

Another great way to assess soft skills is to tap into other resources beyond the candidate, whenever available. For instance, if someone who works within your clinic referred a prospect, ask that individual to share a story about when the candidate in question demonstrated a particular skill you’re screening for. The same goes for references. Instead of simply verifying employment and asking the basics, dig deeper and draw out some insightful storytelling.

Given the fact that experts believe that 25 percent of an employee’s success can depend on soft skills, it’s absolutely imperative that you screen for these attributes as part of your veterinary recruiting. So, ask for stories. This will help the most talented and well-suited individuals to emerge from the pack and improve your chances of hiring candidates that are a perfect fit for your practice.

Of course, if you don’t have the time, energy or patience to deal with hiring process, you can leave that part to us! Our Dream Team Builder program is designed to handle all of the details and find you the best of the best so you can focus on what’s most important: managing and growing your practice. To get started or to learn more, contact us today at 1-800-469-1871 ext 353.

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