Staffing the Team

hand holding a magnet attracting a team of people

Best practices for recruiting, interviewing, and hiring for the team

By Michelle Feairheller, PT, DPT

The success of an organization often rests firmly on the team of individuals comprising the organization.

If an individual is a great fit for an organization, this person can practice their job function with autonomy while simultaneously propelling forward the greater mission and vision of the organization. An individual who isn’t a great fit can negatively impact both the entire organization and the other people around them. During the hiring process, if extra time and diligence is placed on the screening and interview, the quality of the candidate selection process improves.

The Preparation

Before completing the interview process, determine the anticipated job function and characteristics of the individual who would best fulfill this role. Identify current and potential future staffing needs to determine how this individual may fit into the big picture. Make sure to hire prior to an emergent need, when possible, to avoid selecting a candidate out of necessity versus ideal fit. Staffing levels will ebb and flow, so understanding the pattern within your organization will help you maximize staffing and improve the decision-making process. Make sure your job listing accurately represents what you’re looking for in a candidate to avoid confusion. This should reflect job responsibilities and requirements but also reveal some information about your organization’s culture.

When screening applications and resumes, focus on the key areas applicable to the posted position. Assess the candidate’s ability to highlight their skill set for the recruited position within the cover letter, resume, and application. Does the candidate have relevant work, clinical, or volunteer experience that will meet the requirements? Do the company’s mission, vision, goals, and values align with those of the candidate? If not, or if it’s unclear based on the information provided, an initial phone screen might be warranted.

The Interview

During the interview process, it’s helpful to have the candidate meet with a team of peers in addition to sitting for an interview with the managerial team. This process is helpful to gauge the fit of the individual for the organization from both the staff and managerial levels. The front-line staff should have a set list of questions to determine if the candidate’s training, skill set, and personality align with the organization, intended job function, and culture. These questions should be thought-provoking to provide insight into the individual’s character and competency. Involving the staff in the decision-making process will also show that you value them, which further fosters a strong workplace culture. Asking the candidate questions such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” will help you determine if this aligns with your goals for the position they’re seeking. In addition to the interview process, offering clinical staff applicants an observational experience may provide insight beyond the interview process. This observational experience may be less formal than the interview and may also provide more opportunities to have clinical discussions. Once the decision is made, be transparent with all involved individuals. Make sure to provide an open line of communication and feedback during the entire process.

Choosing the right staff may be arguably the most important part of running an organization. If these team members are able to deliver your mission, vision, and values, the experience improves for everyone. The staff should be knowledgeable but also willing to learn and grow. Choosing an individual who’s the right fit for your organization and the culture is more important than necessarily selecting the most qualified individual for the position. It’s easy to teach new skills and nearly impossible to change personality. Finding individuals who naturally strive to provide the highest quality work will improve the quality of your organization overall.

The Orientation

Once the candidate is selected, provide the new hire with a thorough orientation process, regardless of their role. Have candid conversations regarding compensation, schedule, and job requirements. Provide a clear plan for the orientation process and your expectations for the transition. Assign the new hire a mentor who can assist with acclimation to the job role and provide guidance over time. Seek regular feedback from all staff, including the new hire, on how the process is progressing. Reassess the process and staff development often and make necessary changes based on these assessments. Work diligently to develop a strong workplace culture and avoid burnout by providing adequate support. Find a way to keep your staff motivated and happy. Review your staffing plan and your mission, vision, and goals regularly, modifying as needed.

Staffing the perfect team can be a challenging and overwhelming process, but this can improve with a few simple steps. Be clear about your expectations and make sure the job description accurately describes what you’re looking for in a candidate. Reveal information about your organization’s culture during this process. Finding the individual who’s the best fit for your organization doesn’t necessarily mean you select the “best” candidate there is. When an individual’s values and beliefs align with those of your organization, everyone will motivate one another to improve over time. Make a reasonable offer to your selected candidate. Communicate effectively and regularly once a candidate is selected and is officially part of your organization. Work tirelessly to develop a strong workplace culture with open lines of communication and continuous collaboration. Over time, these strategies will ensure that you’ve staffed a team that can elevate your organization to the next level.

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Michelle Feairheller, PT, DPT, is a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic and sports physical therapy. She is currently the physical therapy clinical supervisor and education coordinator at Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and she treats pediatric and adolescent athletes at Nemours duPont Pediatrics in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She can be reached at

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