What is it?

The Society for Human Resource Management defines recruitment as "the activity of identifying and soliciting individuals — either from within or outside an organization — to fill job vacancies or staff for growth."

The recruiting process is made up of three phases:


  • Identify job requirements and characteristics of successful candidates
  • Involve others in the process
  • Develop a hiring timeline

Candidate communication and marketing

  • Solicit candidates through internal and external job postings, referrals, and advertising

Selection and negotiation

  • Evaluate candidates
  • Conduct interviews
  • Make a job offer and negotiate as needed

Actions taken during each phase of the process determine the quality of the hire (the value of the contributions a new hire brings to the organization) and ultimately the selected candidate’s longevity in the role.

Organizations who carefully consider what candidates are looking for have an advantage over those who stick with the status quo.

Best Practices in Recruiting

The recruiting environment has changed significantly over the past several years. Workforce shortages have left employers competing for qualified candidates, with the balance of power shifting in favor of job seekers. Hiring organizations who carefully consider what candidates are looking for, both from the job and from the recruiting process itself, have an advantage over those who stick with the status quo.

The competitive environment does not mean that you should expect to settle for less-qualified candidates, however. It’s important to start with retention in mind and stay focused on long-term success throughout the process. Here are some strategies for maximizing the odds of selecting the best-fit candidate during each stage of recruiting.


Identifying job requirements and characteristics of successful candidates

In today’s market, many employers are looking carefully at job requirements to be sure they truly predict success in a given job and open opportunities to as wide a variety of candidates as possible. A job opening provides the perfect opportunity to review the position description to be sure it accurately reflects the requirements of the job now and in the near future.

  • Look forward, not backward. What environment will this person be working in 1-3 years from now, and what will the job entail as a result? Identify the accomplishments, skills, and knowledge truly required to be successful over the next 1-3 years. Consider, for example, what employees will need to know about population health and value-based care over the next few years.
  • Many employers have been taking a second look at whether a degree is truly necessary for a given job, or if skills and experience are what’s most important. In circumstances where degrees have been found to be unnecessary for a specific position (and of course when not legally required for licensure), larger and more diverse pools of applicants have resulted.
  • Think carefully about other qualification requirements. Distinguish between what employees need to know on their first day and what can be taught over time.
  • Work closely with your organization’s Human Resources (HR) department throughout this process to be sure that internal procedures are being followed and that you understand the implications of any changes to job descriptions and qualifications.
  • Seek input from your organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion experts to ensure that your recruiting practices emphasize equity and inclusion and are designed to reach as diverse a pool of candidates as possible.

Involving others in the process

Whether or not your organization’s hiring practices involve formal hiring teams made up of peers, managers, and other involved staff, it’s important to involve others in the process.

  • Gather input from others as you develop the job description and identify qualifications.
    • Consult others inside your organization. Incumbents, in particular, can be the best sources of information about the true experience of the job and what’s needed to be successful in the role.
    • Seek the perspectives of those outside your organization as well. Find out how similar positions have been posted and filled by other rural health care organizations and what expectations community partners may have of the person who fills the role.
  • If your organization’s policies support it, form and convene an interview team to start the planning process. Consider including community members and partners on the interview team. Having diverse perspectives represented on the team can reduce bias and provide a well-rounded assessment of candidates.

Developing a hiring timeline

In a competitive hiring environment, a lengthy hiring process can result in the loss of a good candidate. Thoughtful planning can help minimize delays.

  • Create a timeline that keeps the process moving forward while accounting for all steps in the process required by your organization.
  • As soon as you have your timeline laid out, block time on the hiring team’s calendars for reviewing applications, participating in interviews, and making the final decision.
  • Create a project plan of sorts for yourself so that you can stay on top of steps in the process and proactively address challenges as needed.

Candidate Communication and Marketing

Use a wide variety of sources to publicize the job opening. To maximize visibility, target not just active job seekers (those who are actively looking for a job) but also passive job seekers (those who are not actively looking for a new job but are potentially open to the right opportunity).

  • Use job boards that attract diverse talent such as, Fairygodboss, and Pink-Jobs.
  • Use sites that specifically target rural health professionals, such as
  • Tap into sources for reaching active job seekers, including your organization’s website, job boards, and other hiring sites.
  • Reach both active and passive seekers through social media and referrals. Referrals may come from inside or outside your organization, including employees, community partners, and contacts outside your region. (Check with your HR department for guidance on referrals to ensure that all policies are followed.)
  • When crafting a job posting, emphasize qualities that are important to candidates. In a 2022 study, Gallup found that job seekers in the U.S. placed the highest importance on these characteristics when deciding whether a job was right for them:
    • The ability to use their strengths on the job
    • Stability and job security
    • A culture valuing diversity and inclusion
    • Work-life balance and well-being
    • Pay and benefits
    • Additional studies have found that younger candidates in particular are attracted to jobs that provide opportunities to grow and develop in their role and make a difference to others.

86% of candidates worldwide say that inclusion in the workplace is important.


Selection and Negotiation

  • Be sure all interviewees know the hiring process and timeline: How many rounds of interviews they can expect, when decisions will be made, and when they can expect to hear back. If delays occur, reach out to candidates to let them know there has been a delay and share a revised timeline.
  • During the interview, provide a clear, honest picture of what it’s like to be in the role.
  • If possible, include a current or former staff member on the interview team so they can provide a firsthand account. Be as transparent as possible about the challenges and the rewards they might expect.
  • Share information about the things that tend to be important to candidates such as pay range, work-life balance, flexibility, and opportunities to grow and develop.
  • Work with your HR department to identify any potential flexibilities in negotiation. For example: Salary may be non-negotiable, but is there any wiggle room on paid time off? Are there any opportunities for remote work or flexible scheduling?

Recruiting Tools

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National Rural Health Resource Center

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National Rural Health Resource Center

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Key Takeaways

  • Start with retention in mind.
  • Stiff competition for qualified candidates means that employers must carefully consider the candidate’s perspective during every step in the recruiting process.
  • Consider the future vision for the job, not just what it has looked like in the past.
  • Think carefully about job requirements. Consider prioritizing skills and experience over formal education where appropriate and allowed by licensure requirements.
  • Time is of the essence. Plan ahead to make the process as streamlined as possible.
  • Publicize vacancies using avenues that reach passive as well as active job seekers.
  • During the interview process, be as transparent as possible so candidates know what they can expect from the job — the challenges as well as the rewards.

Rural Health Care Recruiting in Action

Randy Stembridge, Human Resources Director at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital in Grove Hill, Alabama, offers the following suggestions for interviewing candidates:

  • Schedule plenty of time for each interview. “People will tell you what you need to know if you give them enough time and the right prompts”.
  • Use behavioral interviewing techniques to maximize the odds of making the right hiring decision. Ask interviewees to give examples of times when they have encountered specific situations, and listen for the STAR (situation, task, action, result) in their answer.
  • Because communication and collaboration are especially critical in rural health care, pay close attention to how each interviewee connects with interview team members. Do they listen well? Do they clearly articulate their thoughts? Do they use language that the other person will understand?


National Rural Health Resource Center

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