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3 steps to solving your hiring puzzle

Solving hiring in pharmacy will first mean finding more candidates without a sizeable investment of our time. We need to automate hiring into a process that isolates precisely what we need, finds more puzzle pieces and brings them through a consistent and well-practised screening-interviewing-placement pipeline.

For Christmas you open a 1,000-piece puzzle of a majestic waterfall. You dump it on the kitchen counter and wonder how on Earth you will make this mess look like the masterpiece on the box cover. Assembling a pharmacy team is similar. We need a better approach. 

Solving hiring in pharmacy will first mean finding more candidates without a sizeable investment of our time. We need to automate hiring into a process that isolates precisely what we need, finds more puzzle pieces and brings them through a consistent and well-practised screening-interviewing-placement pipeline. 

a close up of a toy

Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

Yes, craft your posting and post this on common online job-seeking sites like Indeed. But you can also email these to your local employment office, which will spread it to local colleges, universities and job banks that you don’t have access to or time for. They will often do this for free and even pre-screen candidates for you. Be clear on the personality characteristics that do well in your pharmacy and ask them to refresh your posting every few months since you practise an interview-before-need model. Instead of waiting for a workforce gap, explain that you wish to stay ahead of the curve by building a pipeline of potential candidates so that when the need arises, 90 per cent of the work is done and you have already met a few good people. 

Step 1. Evaluate.

Now that you have the résumés coming to you perpetually and in higher volume, you need a systematic process to evaluate them. When a candidate’s résumé seems worth an introductory call, email out a pre-screening document that asks them to respond to some superficial questions in bullet form. Since we can tell a ton about someone from their writing, you will have a great idea of those deserving an interview. Save that pre-screening questionnaire to your desktop and flip the email as a template or have a staff member do this for you. Overall, you’ll make less awkward cold calls and save yourself a ton of time. 

Step 2. Know what you need.

For those who get to your interview phase, predetermine three pinnacle characteristics for the role you are looking to fill. This points you in a clear direction instead of waiting for the candidates to show you what you need. For example, pharmacy assistants who do well in my pharmacies are genuine, capable of building on previous knowledge and appreciate what they have. This is very different from seeking out the assistants with a decade of previous pharmacy experience assuming they will gel with the current team, causing downstream disruption. 

Next, use a template of interview questions that draws out the most useful information in a short amount of time. A template prompts you with questions to ask next, so you stay focused. I have refined a short list of my favourites over years of interviewing. Each of them prompts open-ended responses that reveal more than one essential insight. Also, people will be prepared for the typical biggest strength/biggest weakness questions so they will have pre-programmed answers that lead to long-winded, tangential stories. This leads you to using a filter, tossing out 99% of the useless info and trying to remember the important 1%. Instead, put a spin on it to see their specific, true character: Tell me something you believe in that most people don’t. 

Step 3. Have a quiz ready.

To help theoretically fit the candidate into your current team, ask the potential new hire to complete the 1-minute pharmacy assistant quiz. It is a non-invasive way of finding out where they really are and what you would need to coach. The quiz asks them to score a list of common pharmacy tasks from 1 to 5. Tell them there is no right or wrong answers and that it simply gives an idea of where their current knowledge and skill lies for theoretically placing them at the right spot on the team if day 1 were to arrive.

I have put the three steps into an interview kit, available below, that many pharmacists have found relevant and timesaving. With an interview plan, you approach the session with confidence and naturally attract what you need and less of what you don’t.

graphical user interface, text
graphical user interface, text

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