Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders
Leading Healthcare with Healthcare Leaders

MSA Search BlogInsights from over 30 years of Healthcare Executive Search

Supplying Your Search Firm with Adequate Information

By Kim Kueser, Senior Consultant, MSA Executive Search

When a search consultant fails to receive adequate or factual information, the search will likely not progress as smoothly as it should. The following are vital pieces of information to ensure an efficient and successful search process takes place:

  • Provide adequate access to the decision maker at all stages of the search process. When this doesn't happen, there are often pauses in the search or worse--a miscommunication, which results in a candidate slate missing certain attributes or experience that was vital to the decision maker.
  • Share relevant information such as incentive potential, benefits information, accurate and up-to-date financials, and more. The more information the search firm is able to share with potential candidates, the more likely the preferred candidate accepts an offer. Surprises in benefits packages can derail an offer at the last minute. 
  • Access direct reports, staff, peers, and candid feedback regarding the state of the department and facility, the strength of the team, and reasons for the opening. Knowing the specific needs of the department will assist the search consultant in locating candidates with the right skill set to accomplish the goals. In addition, sharing truthful information on the situation the new leader will walk into if hired is key to employee retention.
  • Flexibility in your calendar in order to schedule search status/update calls and candidate interviews in a timely manner. Possible scheduling holds on key players' calendars prior to candidate presentation result in a smoother and timelier process with a reduced risk of losing the candidate to competing opportunities. 

Ultimately, it's important for search consultants to receive the fundamental pieces of information above in order to ensure a successful search process. Our customized search strategies and thorough approach means you won't spend valuable time with candidates unless we're convinced they can meet your needs. To get in touch with us and discover how we can assist you, call 888.513.0158. 

Stand Out from the Crowd with Your LinkedIn Profile Picture

By Pat Neds, Senior Recruiter, MSA Executive Search

How important is a professional picture on your LinkedIn profile? Adding a picture to your LinkedIn profile can make a world of difference to a recruiter. Studies have shown that profiles with pictures are much more likely to be viewed than those without. In fact, they are seven times more likely to have profile views than those without a picture. Similar to selling something on Ebay without a picture, the assumption is that if there is no photo, something must be wrong.

According to a Business Insider article, TheLadders conducted a study and found that recruiters spend more time examining a LinkedIn user's picture than actually reviewing the person's qualifications. A photo really helps personalize your profile. If you don’t give recruiters that “hook” when they first arrive at your page, then you increase the chances of being easily forgotten.

The proper LinkedIn picture should be up-to-date and suitable for finding and potentially landing a job. People should have a headshot taken on a day they are dressed professionally. Additionally, attire and makeup should be appropriate and not overwhelming so that attention is not drawn away from you.

Anything in a photo has the potential to make a statement. But is it the statement recruiters are looking for? A profile picture of a person wearing a cowboy hat may get the right attention in some geographic areas, but may raise a red flag in Boston. LinkedIn is a professional site and if you want to showcase other skills and interests—you riding a horse or rock climbing—Facebook is the place for that. Do not get LinkedIn and Facebook confused. Once more, Facebook is for personal pictures, LinkedIn is for professional pictures.

Try searching LinkedIn's site a few times and take the time to see what you do when a results page shows profiles with and without photos. See where you look first. I bet your eyes will go straight to those who have a profile picture. It is in our nature to focus on images first and foremost. So, bottom line is if you don't have a photo, you are essentially giving the advantage to other job seekers. Ultimately, set aside some time to take a professional picture and become more noticeable among the substantial crowd of LinkedIn users.

Phone Screening: Is it a Valuable Method for Assessing Candidates?

By Jane Groves, Executive Vice President, MSA Executive Search

In the April 2014 issue of HR Magazine, an article titled “Who You Gonna Call?” authored by Katherine Taylor strongly recommends phone screening before personal interviewing for mid- or senior-level positions. The article argues that "a good initial phone screen can reveal a wealth of information, including a candidate's skills, experience, motivation, professionalism, and salary expectations." Yet, in order to conduct a productive phone screening, advanced preparation is necessary.

As an executive search consultant for the past 23 years and an HR leader for 14 years prior to that, I have conducted many phone screening interviews. And I must admit that the level of preparation for those interviews over the years has varied. Occasionally, I believe we assume we know the job and have plenty of experience in conversing with people, so why do we need to prepare for a thirty-minute phone conversation? I can think of plenty of reasons, but it's more so to appear practiced and organized in the candidate's mind. To assist you in preparing for phone screening, Taylor mentions the following recommendations:

  • Understand the job competencies and develop a list of questions based on topics you'd like to cover
  • Do some research on the candidates by browsing their LinkedIn profiles and resumes
  • Schedule a time and set expectations on the duration of the call and what the call will include   

Twenty years ago, phone calls were audio only. Now, we have Skype and FaceTime, which open new doors and possibilities for assessing candidates and candidate fit. If we put the time into preparing, scheduling, reviewing key job specifications, becoming familiar with the candidate’s background, stating a strong opening, giving the candidate time to ask questions, and having a clear and concise closing with next steps agreed to between the two, we as executive placement specialists can really make a difference.

Common Courtesy Isn’t So Common

By Patricia McCollum, Recruiter, MSA Executive Search

When we think about the executive search process, we must consider common courtesy when assisting our clients. It was not all that long ago that common courtesy was indeed common. It was a fundamental part of our society and an accepted social norm. Children were taught respect, and this attitude was reflected in adults that showed courtesy and respect to others. There is even a National Common Courtesy Day, which falls on March 21 of each year. Today, common courtesy is most notable for its rarity, thus invalidating its description as “common.”

One of my colleagues recently traveled more than 1,400 miles to meet with and interview an executive for a job opportunity. Upon arriving at her destination, she was greeted with a text letting her know the person had decided not to explore the opportunity after all. My colleague was out hundreds of dollars in airfare and related travel expenses, which she could not, in all good conscience, charge to the client. 

While this is an extreme example of abuse of common courtesy, I am discovering that politeness and consideration for others is noticeably lacking in modern society. People operate on the basis of what is most convenient for them without considering how their actions may impact others. 

Courtesy and consideration shown toward others is not something that can be legislated—it must be taught. If we want to enhance our industry and society as a whole, we must get back to the grass roots of teaching and reaffirming common courtesy as a major component of our social interaction.


Best Practices for First Round Interviews

John Lenihan, Consultant, MSA Executive Search

Over the years, I’ve found one of the most important interactions we have with candidates during a search is a “touch base” call before a candidate goes to interview with a client for the first time. Even though most of our candidates are seasoned leaders who have substantial experience interviewing, I still take the opportunity to share some lessons I’ve learned about general best practices for first round interviews. While no two calls are exactly the same, there are three points I share during every call. They are, in order of importance: energy, specifics, and time management.  

  1. Energy: In my experience, one of the greatest de-railers to an otherwise strong candidacy is a perceived lack of energy during the interviews. To put it bluntly: regardless of how qualified or credentialed you are, it can be very difficult for an organization to overcome concerns about a lack of energy during your interview. Conversely, a high energy level can indicate enthusiasm and stamina, which are often identified as notable strengths of a candidate’s interview. Even if the interview is a full day event with many stakeholders, make sure that you are maintaining a high level of energy throughout the day. Right or wrong, energy level is directly correlated with perceived interest in the position itself. Organizations will rarely be excited about a candidate who doesn’t appear excited about them. 
  2. Specifics: If you have been invited to interview for a leadership position, chances are you have plenty of rich experience to draw upon when discussing your background. Oftentimes, organizations will use behavior-based interviewing techniques, with questions beginning with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of your work in…"  This should be seen as a great opportunity for you to share specific, real world examples of your work. Philosophical, theoretical discussions may have value and relevance at some point in the process, but during first round interviews, organizations are most interested in understanding what you’ve actually done. It is not enough to simply have accomplishments listed on your resume. Make sure that the person interviewing you is leaving with a clear understanding of some of your specific achievements and successes.
  3. Time Management: This one is most relevant when two factors are present: 1) the scheduled interviews are shorter, i.e. scheduled for less than 1 hour, and 2) whenever there is a group or “panel” interview on the schedule. In line with the above comment about specificity, make sure that you're answering questions in the time allotted. Although you may have many specific examples to share, you should exercise caution against long-windedness. Most interviewers will come to the interview with a number of questions to ask, and if you are meeting with a panel of individuals, this dynamic is even more pronounced as you have several people with several questions to ask. This is not to encourage “short” answers. It is, however, a gesture of respect to the interviewer who has taken time out of his or her day to meet with you and likely has a number of questions to ask in a set period of time. 

Transparency is Key in a Successful Executive Job Search

By Brad Veal, Senior Consultant, MSA Executive Search

Having worked in executive search for nearly 20 years, I would like to point out some consistently repeated behaviors that negatively impact candidates and keep professionals from effectively partnering with executive search consultants. The good news is that many of these are fairly easy to fix.

One of the most important behaviors in working with an executive search firm is transparency. With most executive searches, there are many interested candidates, and busy executive search consultants will not waste much time with a candidate that is closed-lipped or answers questions circuitously.This is not the time to hide information or act coy. If you are interested in the position, let us know why. We love it when candidates are excited and can give us well-reasoned interest in a position. Also, share your progress on other ongoing searches. You don’t need to name the other organization(s), as we understand that candidates are likely looking at more than one open position, but just keep us apprised on the status of your other interviews.

We understand that many professionals have had a hiccup or two in their career. The days of spending 20+ years with one employer are pretty much gone. With the economic problems in the last several years, we have seen an increasing number of downsizing and layoffs. This is by no means a cause to be ashamed. All we ask is that you are honest about your reason(s) for leaving an organization(s), and be willing to provide references that will support that information.

An area where many candidates are tight-lipped is in regards to relocation questions. Years of HR training have led many of us to fear sharing personal information. However, aside from professional fit, relocation issues are the next biggest hurdle for prospective candidates. Please talk to your spouse and consider family and personal issues before expressing interest. Is your family supportive of the move? Does your spouse need a job? Specific kids’ activities required (swimming, soccer, gifted program, etc.)? Can you sell your home? Again, we want to make this process as seamless as possible and foresee any potential issues as early as we can. Most executive search consultants want to work with you to help with these issues, and many can connect a candidate with realtors, school administrators, chamber of commerce, or other sources in the community.

Finally, what about the dreaded conversation regarding salary? We hold no judgment about your current compensation, so please share it early. The reason we ask is simple – does this position make sense for the candidate financially? If you are at $400,000 and our position pays $250,000,the position likely doesn’t make sense for you. However, if that same position is in your hometown where all your family live and the cost of living is very low, we understand and can work with that information. Also, at some point in the search process, proceeding candidates will be required to share their salary and background release, so it’s just easier on everyone to proactively discuss it.

Three Reasons Why Recruiting Shouldn't Be a DIY Project

 By Roger Samuel, Vice President and Interim Practice Leader, MSA Executive Search

It’s not at all uncommon for clients to call us and retain us for a search after they’ve attempted to do it themselves and, for various reasons, have been unsuccessful. In thinking about some of the reasons we have more success in successfully placing candidates under these circumstances, I’ve come up with these to name a few:

1. We take the time on the front-end to engage key stakeholders in the process to identify what the ideal candidate looks like and what are some of the key first-year objectives. Using this position profile as a guide, our early sourcing and recruiting work is focused on identifying, informing, and ultimately recruiting candidates whose backgrounds and future objectives are a match. It also means that late in the process, when these same stakeholders are meeting with finalist candidates, both parties are “singing from the same hymn book.”

2. Doing the recruiting on their own, clients may be more likely to rely on the on-file position description, post the position internally and on a few external sites and wait for the resumes to pour in. Generally what we hear from our clients who’ve gotten to this point is that they’ve received a lot of resumes, but few from qualified candidates. When we look at our internal data in terms of how the successful, strong candidates learned about a particular opportunity, it is almost always via our network. Maybe the candidate was in our network to start. Maybe not. But he or she learned of the opportunity either directly as a result of our outreach efforts or through someone else in the network. It’s very difficult for all but the largest health systems with large recruiting departments to invest in the resources necessary to maintain a robust and up-to-date database of healthcare executives.

3. We do our best to get to know our candidates early on, and try to identify the drivers—both career-wise and personal—that are motivating them to consider a particular opportunity. This information, when combined with an “eyes wide open” philosophy when educating them about the client, the community and the position, improves the chances that there won’t be any surprises late in the process that result in an unsuccessful outcome and what we call in our shop a “restart.”


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