Many healthcare organizations today are facing significant challenges in identifying and selecting the right people. Their underlying problem is that they are using an outdated approach to evaluating and hiring job applicants.

As we continue the volume-to-outcomes journey in how we treat patients and how we are paid for that care, an increasing number of health systems, hospitals and other provider organizations are implementing LEAN and other improvement processes. What they don’t realize is that these approaches require employees with different skills and values for them to adapt to the pressures of improving care, safety and satisfactions at a lower cost.

There are still executives, physicians and nurses who will argue that all they need to make a good hiring selection is a copy of the resume and a five-minute conversation with the applicant. Yes, there are still executives who prefer candidates who graduated from certain schools and who have worked at nationally known organizations without taking the time to dig down to find out if they can successfully do the work that needs to be done.

If employees are an organization’s most valuable asset, and if costly turnover continues to be a problem, why are so many healthcare organizations relying on this is the way we have always done it approach? Fair question.

Think about the changes in clinical medicine. Not long ago “clinical judgment,” anecdotal evidence, and personal experience shaped the practice of medicine, says Bryan Warren, Director of Healthcare Solutions for Selection International, a global automated and online assessment technology firm. “Today, evidence-based decisions based on research, treatment guidelines and policies vastly improves outcomes and saves lives,” Warren said.

If we need an example of what path to follow, Warren says, look at other industries, particularly manufacturing, that decades ago began shifting to a model that today is commonly called evidence-based recruiting.

For someone who is enormously instinctive and who earlier in my search career thought these instincts defined my success, over the past 10 years I have come to embrace the evidence-based hiring approach. To be honest, while I am told that my instincts are good, they are not the secret sauce that defines our success in recommending the right candidates. It is data.

Our firm has utilized certain elements of this approach since the mid-1990s but we are now realigning our PredictiveSelection/Tograding© model to ensure that we are capturing the relevant data from our clients that will help us define who can, and who cannot, be successful. This will include specific, detailed job requirements (not the generic job description), specific performance deliverables (how will success be defined), and personality and professional characteristics, for a more robust profile of the ideal candidate. While we have had great success with our current approach, we are strengthening our screening tools to collect more performance data from candidates to minimize any hidden biases. We will continue to use the DISC© profile along with the revamped structured behavior and values interview tool that is built around the chronological interview model. In short, a more demanding, exacting approach to candidate screening.

For executives in the job market, evidence-based hiring will require more pre-interview preparation, primarily to be able to provide quantifiable examples of their successes. Surprisingly, today only a small percentage of candidates can rise to that challenge because for years they have been able to survive by using broad themes or claims of success without verifiable data. The candidates who come to the interview table with the specific supporting information that illustrates their success in addressing client needs will stand a better chance of advancing than those who do not.

If you are an early to mid-careerist, the best advice I can give is to begin keeping a career journal, tracking not only your various jobs, terms of employment, salary information, and reporting relationships, but detailed information on your accomplishments. Having access to this quantifiable information throughout your career will make you a stronger, more compelling candidate in evidence-based hiring.