Hospitals: Work Sample Your HC Team

Posted on January 13, 2012


For sure, healthcare project partner selection is an emotional decision. Yet other industries struggle as well with the ability to choose talent. Interviewing is another surprisingly imprecise exercise of screening and selection. Google seeks creative problem solvers and tries to develop ways to screen for that in its prospective employee interviews. But an increasing body of knowledge shows that “work sampling” is a method with growing reliability. Work sampling is asking a candidate to complete a task similar to what he or she would encounter in a real work environment, whether that be coding for a programmer or motivating a team for a manager.

Scoring and ranking is a good post-rationalization / CYA / justification exercise for hospitals in case anyone gets grilled on why a team was picked; ‘Well, they scored highest in our ranking system, that’s why.’ For hospitals, what is important is the ability to predict future performance: is this team the best to do the job as outlined?

Selecting from two, three or four qualified firms is not easy and many variables make such decisions difficult. So in the spirit of Google and other successful talent scouters, why not employ work sampling in the team selection process? Short-list interviews can go any which way and are not always as reliable as it is:  why not have a zinger question or two asked of every team that puts each team on the spot to think on their feet? Historically, this has been seen as unfair or out-of-bounds for some reason, but it just seems prudent.  If it is fair game for prospective employees, it should be fair game for teams trying to win hospital projects.

In most cases, there are no correct or incorrect answers, but it would provide a window into how a team approaches a scenario and the different answers could be measured and compared like anything else. They could even be scored if need be. In my experience, design-bid-build veterans will want to go back to their headquarters and caucus before any open discussion or brainstorming; design-builders will want to discuss options with the owner to solve the issue immediately and move on.

How a team thinks, and how it would react to a scenario without time to plan and scheme is a real indication of character, and how the team will perform under pressure. Such a demonstration would provide better insight into qualification, and would have an essential emotional component to it. And in all cases it would be a heckuva lot more useful than an org chart.