The KZA Blog

Can That Candidate Really Do The Job? Four Ways to Find Out.

November 21, 2018

Have you ever hired someone whose professed skill levels during the interview turned out to be lower than you were led to believe?

It’s difficult to measure skills and abilities through interview questions alone. Unless you assess candidate skills using objective screening tools, you’ll often be disappointed.

Here are 5 ways to reduce the disconnect and hire better candidates.

1. Verify keyboard speed and proficiency.

Whether you’re hiring front desk, clinical, or billing staff, or a manager or surgery counselor, everyone in a modern practice must have speedy, efficient keyboard skills. Slow typing impacts team productivity, and inaccurate typing increases the risk of denied claims and electronic health record (EHR) data entry mistakes.

Every candidate for every role should be asked to take a typing test. You can’t assume that because a candidate is younger, or has held multiple jobs other practices or offices, that his or her keyboard skills are sufficient for your practice needs.

Two free options that don’t require a download or plug-in are Typing.com, which also offers learning modules, and KeyHero. Some features may require free registration.

2. Administer skills tests.

In addition to keyboarding skills, ideal candidates must have basic knowledge of Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Excel, and for some roles, PowerPoint.

You need to know, for instance, a candidate’s ability to perform common tasks such as saving a document as a PDF or creating a chart in Excel. And for specific roles, it’s important to validate the candidate’s knowledge of billing, coding, QuickBooks, or clinical knowledge.

As the old saying goes, In God We Trust – all others must bring data.

In this case, data comes in the form of scores on the tests that assess skills such as billing basics, ICD-10, HIPAA, nursing skills, and software such as Excel, Word, and QuickBooks. One company that offers skills tests for competencies like these is TotalTesting. Pay as you go for $20 per test. Or, buy a block of tests, which can reduce the cost to as little as $10 per test. TotalTesting also has an option for you to create custom tests for your own practice.

3. Assess problem-solving abilities.

Problem solving and critical reasoning skills unfortunately are becoming harder to find. To sidestep the candidates who have lackluster skills these areas, give them something to assess or solve as part of the hiring process.

Here are a few ideas:

  • For a billing office supervisor role, provide the accounts receivable report and ask the candidate to review and explain what he or she sees, as well as how that might drive the way they prioritize the team’s workload.
  • For a marketing role, give candidates a copy of your most recent brochure and e-newsletter and ask how they would improve upon them and why.
  • For a checkout staff role, conduct a few role plays and play the “difficult patient” who is being asked for full payment of their financial responsibility.
  • For a billing team role, provide a redacted claim denial report showing denial reason codes and ask about the steps they would take to resolve or appeal them.

It’s one thing to ask a candidate to tell you how he or she would do something. But it’s much more illuminating to have them show you. Very quickly you’ll discern the candidates who have more effective reasoning skills.

4. Understand workstyle strengths and weaknesses.

A workstyle assessment is a great way to identifying things such as ideal work environment, communication dos and don’ts, strengths to the team, and more. Proception2 is once such communication and workstyle instrument, and we’ve been using it for 30 years. It’s based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston and uses a common language to describe how people interact with problems, people, pace, and procedures in the work environment.

Candidates answer just 26 questions and you receive a 12 to 14 page profile that tells you a lot about their behavior and workstyle. The results are incredibly accurate. I recommend using a workstyle assessment such as Proception2 when hiring a practice administrator, managers, supervisors, and team leads – if not the entire team.

Low productivity and employee turnover are expensive. Heading off bad hires at the pass using assessment tools like these makes good sense.



Karen Zupko


An internationally recognized thought leader and speaker, Karen Zupko advises physicians and healthcare managers about the challenges and trends impacting the practice of medicine.

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