Hiring Top Healthcare Analytics Talent: Five Best Practices

healthcare analyticsCOVID-19 has placed immense pressure on healthcare organizations to have capable, reliable, and diverse analytics team members to aid healthcare leaders in making data-informed decisions. The need for robust analytics, however, isn’t new to healthcare and will be just as critical after the emergency phases of the pandemic. As the industry further digitizes, analytics demand will also grow, driving organizations to prioritize sound strategies for hiring the best-suited analytics talent as efficiently as possible.

According to a 2018 survey by HealthLeaders Media, organizations have prioritized hiring analytics staff over every other role except care coordinators. Amid COVID-19, U.S. (and global) health systems need sound analytics to study pandemic patterns in their region to achieve the following:

Healthcare technology and professional services companies that focus on enabling massive analytics-driven improvements continually screen and interview candidates for analytics-based roles. In the process, these organizations have identified some best inclusive practices for attracting top analytics talent from a diverse candidate pool and continually improving the hiring process.

Five Best Practices for Hiring Healthcare Analytics Talent

Based on repeated improvement cycles around hiring analytics talent, five best practices have emerged to help healthcare organizations efficiently attract, hire, and retain the best analytics team members to identify and support meaningful outcomes improvement:

#1: Open Positions to Remote Employees and Conduct Interviews Via Video Conferencing

As many organizations become more comfortable having employees dispersed around the country (and globe), they’re creating inclusive job descriptions that transcend geographic, racial, ethnic, and gender barriers. As a result, these employers are widening the candidate pool and conducting more interactions online. Also, a remote interview process that accommodates dispersed candidates by using video conferencing software (e.g., Zoom and WebEx) saves time and money. Interviewers now have many practical tools for interacting in a web-based interview, such as cameras for face-to-face interaction, virtual whiteboards, screen-sharing, text chat, and more.

#2: Insert “Tollgates” into the Hiring Process

Tollgates are ways to identify candidates who are not a good fit early in the hiring process, stopping them from going through all steps, thereby improving the process efficiency. However, to prevent tollgates from disparately impacting underrepresented groups, hiring teams must ensure these checkpoints are accessible regardless of gender, race, or ethnic background. The following inclusive hiring tollgate examples save time and narrow the applicant pool to the best matches:

  • An introductory screening call: As an initial step, the hiring team partners with the HR department on an introductory screening call to validate the candidate’s information, interest, experience, and match of skills.
  • An online assessment: A brief online assessment evaluates an analytics candidate’s basic technical skills. Ideally, the evaluation focuses only on elementary skills, allowing around 30 minutes to complete for an experienced candidate and no more than 60 minutes for any candidate. This basic test can be a simple survey that a candidate receives and submits via email. The hiring organization’s senior analytics team then reviews the submissions to determine which candidates qualify to progress through the process. It’s better to narrow the applicant pool early with a basic assessment. If hiring teams perform the more personnel- and time-intensive advanced skills evaluation too early in their process, they risk wasting resources on candidates that the primary, more efficient assessment might have ruled out.

#3: Use Scenario-Based Role Play to Assess Many Competencies Concurrently

Candidates who pass the basic tollgate steps then undergo structured interviews with the hiring manager and often one or two additional team members, who represent the team’s diversity. An effective interview helps hiring teams determine cultural fit, as well as validates technical skills and appropriate domain knowledge.

Role play can help interviewers assess many technical skills and domain knowledge in a short period. Interviewers can use a real-world example of analytics needs at the hiring organization to stage an exercise that puts the candidate in the driver’s seat of the position for which they’re applying. A scenario-based role play involves four main steps:

  1. Present a problem with a backstory (ideally, based on a real scenario at the hiring organization).
  2. Add some de-identified or engineered data to allow the candidate to work through the problem on a shared computer screen or whiteboard.
  3. Current teammates can role play as project stakeholders to assess how the candidate might interact in a real-world setting.
  4. Interviewers may seek a more holistic picture of a candidate’s abilities by asking the candidate to create some code or manipulate the data for a more in-depth technical assessment (possibly drawing visualization ideas to demonstrate competency in presenting data and asking for data insights).

Creating good quality, reusable role play takes some work. Still, that upfront effort will pay high dividends in helping determine the strongest candidates for an analytics role in a relatively tight time frame (60 to 90 minutes). The role play exercise will also help separate real analytics talent from basic report writers. And, while interviewers still need to ask the candidate a series of questions outside the role play, the exercise will break up the interview and make it more engaging and memorable for the candidate.

#4: Assess Cultural Fit

In quick succession with the role play exercise, hiring teams can perform a cultural fit interview. This assessment involves a more traditional technique of asking candidates standard questions to understand their style of working and collaboration. These questions should be consistent for all candidates and focus on the most important attributes for working effectively with the hiring organization and analytics staff.

The cultural fit assessment also ensures the candidate’s personal goals and mission align with the organization. For example, hiring managers will want to determine how a candidate relates to the organization’s core values and will support companywide efforts around those values, such as annual unconscious bias training. Taking the time to ensure cultural fit can help identify candidates with potential as long-term team members—meaning lower turnover and improved overall hiring process efficacy.

#5: Follow Up with and Provide Feedback to All Candidates

The hiring team should follow up with each candidate in a timely fashion and provide feedback—for both hired and non-hired candidates. In the event of delayed hiring decisions, hiring teams must advise all candidates of the nature of the delay and the new timeline. Prompt and considerate feedback creates a positive experience for the interviewee and a lasting opinion of the organization. A positive impression impacts the likelihood a candidate will accept an offer or apply again as they gain experience and skillsets, or a more fitting position materializes. Regardless of hiring outcomes, a candidate will likely share a positive experience with peers, thereby driving more analytics talent to the organization.

Make Finding Top Healthcare Analytics Talent an Operational Imperative

COVID-19-era decision-making demands have reinforced healthcare’s need for highly skilled analytics team members and an efficient, effective hiring process. Strategies to hire the right people quickly with minimal burden on existing team members are critical. Following best practices for hiring essential analytics talent and continually adapting to healthcare’s shifting environment will help organizations attract and retain the most capable people, thus enabling massive, measurable, data-informed healthcare improvement now and well into the future.

Additional Reading

Would you like to learn more about this topic? Here are some articles we suggest:

  1. How to Build a Healthcare Analytics Team and Solve Strategic Problems
  2. The Number One Skill for a Healthcare Data Analyst
  3. What Healthcare Analysts Can Learn About Data Analytics From the World of Surfing
  4. The Healthcare Analytics Adoption Model: A Roadmap to Analytic Maturity
  5. The Number One Secret of Highly Effective Healthcare Data Analysts
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