Recruiting and Retention Strategies for Behavioral Health Practices

By Barbara Lewis, Director of People Services

The current climate of low unemployment rates and high demand for healthcare jobs means that the candidate pool is shrinking, and recruiting is getting more challenging.  Whereas in the past there may have been ten candidates that could meet all ten qualifications of a candidate, the reverse is true – one candidate with those ten qualifications has ten companies that they can choose.

Typically a recruiting process includes focusing on a candidate’s ability and experience to perform certain tasks associated with the job function.  In a competitive candidate environment, there may be a better approach.  Competency-based interviewing and selection is a good alternative when unemployment is low, and job demand is high.

Here’s an example of how a competency-based approach might work.  Suppose you are recruiting for a denial management position in health care.  Current resumes show that the experience level of the candidates applying for the position may not demonstrate the level of experience you were hoping.  However, out of ten resumes, five of them exhibited experience in previous jobs of being good problem solvers and the ability to talk on the phone to complete an initiative.  The competencies of problem-solving and results orientation would be important traits for someone in denial management.  So, while these candidates may not have the direct experience in the tasks you have in your office, they may have the skills to learn the job.

Think of it another way –what is easier to train?  Is it easier to teach someone to be a good problem solver, or is it easier to train on your billing platform and processes?  Candidates who have the competency will not only be able to learn the billing system you have now, but problem solver competency is transferrable – which means no matter what billing system you have (including changes you make in the future), the problem solver will figure it out.

Here are a few other examples of competencies that might be needed in a billing office – customer focus, accountability, accuracy, technology aptitude.  Find the right combination of competencies you need for your particular position, and create interview questions that allow the candidate with those competencies to rise to the top.   There are plenty of resources, including competency interview question examples, on the internet if you are looking for inspiration.

Barbara Lewis is Director of People Services, AdvantEdge Healthcare Solutions, and Adjunct Professor at DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

AdvantEdge Healthcare Solutions is the nation’s largest behavioral health billing company providing revenue cycle management solutions for behavioral health practices since 1987.   If you have questions about how AdvantEdge can improve your behavioral health billing so that you are collecting every dollar that you’re legally and ethically entitled, please call us at 877-501-1611 or email