The Doctor Can Be Seen Now

In healthcare, video interviews can cut down the time and expense of lengthy executive searches.


Dr. Bernard Godley is a senior client partner and Dr. Tonika Lam is a senior associate in Korn Ferry’s Academic Health Center practice.

The hospital’s chief medical officer scrubbed herself clean and straightened her lab coat. Mentally she was prepared, but this time she and her colleagues were using some unorthodox equipment for a procedure they each had performed hundreds of times before. That made both her and her colleagues a little nervous – would they accomplish everything they needed done?

But the hospital’s top doctor and her associates weren’t getting ready to perform brain surgery, they were about to conduct a video job interview of a prospective hospital administrator.

The healthcare industry continues to boom, creating an estimated 4 million new healthcare jobs between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But to get through all the potential candidates of for all those jobs, many healthcare organizations are turning to video interviews. It can be unusual enough talking to prospective nurses, doctors, and social workers via video conference, but now many healthcare systems have embraced video interviewing to screen executive candidates.

Some executives we speak to get a little nervous about getting their early impressions of healthcare leaders from a monitor. But as the saying goes, it’s not brain surgery. Video interviews and applications during the initial rounds of a search can save a firm money, put more power in the hands of search committees, and allow executive recruiters to manage and deliver a deeper talent pool than ever before.

The adoption of video interviewing by the healthcare industry dovetails with the increased use of the technology across other sectors and by Fortune 500 companies such as GM and Pepsi. A survey of 700 executives conducted in 2015 by Korn Ferry Futurestep found that 71 percent of respondents use real-time video interviewing and 50 percent use video interviews to narrow the candidate pool. Further, 25 percent of respondents said they use candidate video applications as part of the recruiting process and 24 percent said they use recruiting-focused videos on their career websites.

Importantly, video interviewing can trim delays common in healthcare recruiting. Given the highly technical qualifications needed for healthcare leadership positions, traditional search and interview techniques frequently require scheduling transportation, hotel arrangements, and the like for potential candidates. Korn Ferry found that for major teaching hospitals, leadership searches took seven months on average. For department chairs at medical schools and executives at major healthcare centers, first- and second-round interviews took almost a year. The time those interviews soak up can be reduced significantly if the candidate doesn’t have to travel in person. Nearly 90 percent of respondents to a survey said that video interviewing reduces the amount of time needed to find the perfect candidate for an open position.

Video interviewing fits squarely within the “lean principle” ethos, the methodical implementation of processes designed to reduce waste through the improvement of process flow. For instance, all candidates can get a list of questions in advance, which provides a level playing field. Plus, it allows candidates that are further from the hiring institution as much opportunity as those who are close.

Of course, before adopting a video-based recruiting system, search committees must ensure they have the right technology in place. One option is to use a national network of professional conference centers. The other is to conduct the video interviews on candidates’ computers. The former ensures a reliable audio and visual signal, but requires hardwired video equipment in the search committee boardroom and local teleconference expertise, whereas the later relies on the quality of the candidate’s internet connection, equipmen,t and preparation for a successful experience. Skype and Webex are commonly used software platforms to interface candidates to the search committee. The best way to get a feel for the effectiveness of a platform is to perform a trial run with a coworker. Just as the interviewee should practice their ‘live’ presence so should search committee members. Consider the setting, clothing, and body language to ensure you convey the level of professionalism you expect from the candidate.

Executive searches in the healthcare industry are no longer just about finding the “right” candidate. Institutions also must focus on creating a smart process and make “time taken up by the search” as measurement for success. The healthcare search committee chairperson and hiring managers must ensure that the search team’s time is not wasted and that each step of the process flows smoothly to the next, with little downtime and minimal waste. Using video interviewing to quickly eliminate lesser-qualified candidates, particularly early in the search process, can save money, time, and resources while deepening and diversifying the pool of candidates.