Long gone are the days when nursing applicants were the only ones that needed to create favorable first impressions during interviews.
With demand for qualified nurses exceeding supply, the tables have turned. Nowadays, qualified nursing applicants have many options when choosing where they want to spend their working hours. So, in order to attract “the best of the best,” your nurse recruitment team and processes must also impress potential applicants.
As always, nursing applicants want information about the job, the pay, and the benefits. But today’s applicants are looking beyond facts and figures to find the “right fit” when evaluating job options. Believe it or not, their initial impressions about a potential employer are often influenced by simple, subtle details such as how a staff member handles their calls, how long they’re made to wait for a response, and how communication is handled before, during and after an interview.
At all times, staff convey important messages about your organization’s culture, operations, and attitudes toward employees, physicians, patients or residents. Positive messages can influence potential applicants to choose your organization over a competitor’s.
When desirable applicants are unimpressed—either by what they’ve seen or heard, or by the way they were treated—some might not even consider an offer or second interview. They won’t have to, because they know excellent opportunities abound. That sense of empowerment didn’t always exist. Today, however, it’s the reality.
According to the American Nurses Association, the median age of nurses is 46. More than 50% of the nursing workforce is close to retirement. There will be vast increases in the number of people over 65 as the Baby Boomers continue to age. This age group has many medical and health needs. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act will give millions of people access to the healthcare system. More nurses and health professionals will be needed in response.
The stakes are high
Attracting top nursing applicants is time-consuming and expensive. Nursing shortages definitely increase recruiting urgency, yet even during the best of times, hospitals and nursing homes must compete for the best candidates. Organizations with the most caring and competent nursing professionals may have a built-in advantage when facilities are evaluated for accreditation and various ratings and rankings. Having competent, caring nurses on staff help attract and retain patients and doctors.
Mystery shopping helps ensure your nurse recruitment team and processes send the right messages to qualified applicants.
Sending a nurse “undercover” to evaluate your recruitment activities
Devon Hill Associates engages mystery shoppers who are real nurses to pose as applicants. As part of their role-playing, they fill out forms, make appointments and participate in at least one interview.
But, here’s the difference.
At every stage of the candidate interview process, the mystery shoppers are inconspicuously assessing people, processes and the overall experience. And afterwards, they make copious notes. From there, they’re able to complete detailed questionnaires and provide written narrative accounts of their experiences. The mystery shoppers’ comprehensive feedback can reveal whether recruitment guidelines and policies are being followed, how inquiries and interviews are handled, what messages are being communicated about your organization and how they perceived your recruitment team and your organization overall. It’s valuable, actionable information.
You don’t need to engage a lot of mystery shoppers to gather objective, useful information about how your organization is being presented and perceived. A well-planned and executed mystery shopping program requires only a few.
But that doesn’t mean their job is easy. Regardless of the number, nurse mystery shoppers must be able to role-play and observe, maintain confidentiality, anonymity and objectivity — and prepare detailed, informative reports.
If you’re interested in harnessing the power of mystery shopping for nurse recruitment – or for other key positions — take care when choosing a firm. An experienced firm with a proven track record in healthcare and long-term care mystery shopping can ensure that the mystery shoppers will protect your privacy and write reports that are comprehensive, insightful and useful.