Dignity Health, SSM Health share the secrets to their interview process to attract top candidates

Dignity Health and SSM Health earned top marks for making the job interview experience a positive one, according to Glassdoor. (Alachua County via Flickr)
Wanda Cole-Frieman

It’s always nerve-wracking to interview for a job, but two healthcare systems apparently have a knack for putting candidates at ease and making the entire experience a positive one.

California-based Dignity Health is the best place to interview in 2017 across all industries, according to candidate feedback submitted to Glassdoor. And SSM Health, a Catholic, not-for-profit health system in the Midwest, falls in the sixth spot.

RELATED: Hospital exec challenge: How to attract, retain staff as talent pool shrinks

What’s their secret? For Dignity Health, it’s an interview process that assesses candidates’ behavioral competencies for human kindness, compassion and the human experience, Wanda Cole-Frieman, vice president of talent acquisition at Dignity Health, told FierceHealthcare.

For example, hiring managers ask candidates to tell them which value of Dignity Health resonates with them, why and how they use it in their professional life. Hiring managers are trained to listen to how candidates answer the question to get a feel for whether the person would be a good fit at the organization.

“We really want to attract folks who believe at their core, not just intellectually but in their heart, that kindness can heal,” she says.

Dignity brought together a cross-functional team from learning and organizational development, talent acquisition, and mission leaders to develop the new process, which rolled out two years ago. Leaders were trained on how to listen to words and phrases that indicate empathy, self-awareness and a deep feeling for healthcare so that they can hire a person who will provide compassionate, patient-centered, high-quality care, Cole-Frieman says.

“If we do it right the first time and we assess candidates based on the fit of the organization, ideally we will have more engaged employees who deliver care in a way that is patient-centered,” she says, noting that many employees refer colleagues and friends in the industry to the organization even though it’s rare for Dignity to offer bonuses for referrals. “I think it speaks volumes that we attract people who believe in our mission.”

RELATED: Hospitals nationwide face unprecedented turnover, report says

Thomas Ahr, vice president of talent for SSM Health, said that the system also wants the candidate’s experience to parallel the organization’s commitment to an exceptional patient and employee experience.

Like Dignity, SSM Health has launched a new interview program that it calls “Hire for Fit” to help support effective hiring. In addition it:

  • actively collaborates with and listens to the needs of internal and external customers
  • uses an interview self-scheduling tool for candidate convenience
  • uses a texting program to communicate with candidates during the hiring process and with new hires for onboarding follow-up
  • offers online chat opportunities for applicants nationwide to interact with recruiters and hiring leaders in real time
  • provides job seekers with tips for interviewing and resume advice to help them in their job search within the organization and throughout the community.