Over the past year we’ve made some really great hires in our R&D division. Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about what we look for in technology people who are going to work in healthcare, and perhaps suggest some ways that people can be more successful in their own job searches.

As you might imagine we get a wide range of candidates for positions ranging from intern to senior management. Having some experience of healthcare is usually very helpful, but we also get great hires that don’t have any industry experience.

The first thing I look for is the ability to do the job.   Does the candidate have the requisite technical background, or alternately do they have the ability to learn the skills with our support? I don’t assess this by looking at their resume, and in fact, more often than not I have very little interest in a piece of paper that wasn’t written by the candidate and presents a very one-sided view of the world.

I’m a fan of seeing people do things. This is pretty easy with developers as all you have to do is give them an online coding test and then take the time to review the work.   The Director of product development sets them up with an online testing service and then we have the people they would work with go through the results.

As you might expect I took the exam myself so I had some sense of how challenging it is and it was really great fun.

Other roles such as test engineering, systems/network administration, or analysts are harder to assess. The best results seem to come from presenting a mock problem of moderate complexity and looking at how the candidate works it. The best advice I can give here is to not talk, except for prompting when they get stuck.

People can get nervous and underperform. It’s important to know when that’s happening so that you can either reschedule the interview would a more appropriate time, or try to get them to loosen up.

I’m always interested in a person’s ability to learn. People who read anything at all always do better in my interviews. I don’t care if it’s the cornflakes packet, just the fact that you took the time to try to learn something new is a vote in your favor.

Many people in healthcare have a calling to their profession. While this doesn’t have to be the case, some deep personal connection can really work for you. I’ve always enjoyed working in healthcare, but my motivation greatly increased when my son was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Suddenly, I could understand why it was all so important, and my commitment level greatly increased.

One of my favorite management gurus, Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying that “culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner”, and I believe an emphasis on culture fit in job interviews is incredibly important. We don’t need technical people who cannot come to work each day and hook into their team and the overall mission of the company.

So how do you assess culture? First you need to know what your culture is. At eHealth Technologies we have defined a culture in terms of the 7 C’s. I’ve listed these below in no particular order.

  • Commitments are delivered on time and with quality.
    • “Do whatever it takes” attitude.
  • Communicate frequently and professionally.
    • Bring bad news quickly.
  • Creativity and thoughtful approaches are needed and encouraged.
    • How can we do better?
  • Collaboration is essential and must happen across organizational boundaries.
    • Where can I help?
  • Constructive and supportive approaches are required.
    • Build up, don’t tear down.
  • Careful Management of patient information.
    • Access only what you need to do your job.
  • Celebrate
    • Who have I thanked today.

A lot of this culture is about being able to work in a team that’s pulling hard to get across the finishing line. Roles and personas don’t matter as much as getting work done so that our customers can see the patients on time.   It’s great that you work as a technical person, but if we need help getting images to our customers then I’d prefer that you are willing to pitch in rather than sit back and focus only on your goals.

So, I’ve given you a lot to reflect on before the interview. I think if you take the time to do so you’ll be more successful.

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