Study staff is the most important resource in a research program. With a lot of study staff turnover, researchers are constantly faced with the challenge of hiring the best person they can. Very often candidates have little to no experience in research and there will be a lot of investment in training them. It is also difficult to tell who will succeed in the position. So how do you find the right people? Our article will review our best tips for hiring excellent research staff.
When hiring is required, it always feels like we need someone yesterday. There is going to be pressure to get a person in as fast as possible but it is important to slow down and take the time to hire the right person. Although it may take a month or more to hire properly, the time wasted with the wrong hire is much worse.
The interview is the traditional way to start exploring candidates. It is an effective way to start understanding a candidate’s experience, their interests, their questions, and their motivations. The interview, however, cannot be the only step. Job searchers will often practice interviews and know approximately what kind of questions are going to be asked. The traditional interview is still an excellent first step to get down to a short list of interested candidates.
Now that we have a short list of candidates, how do we separate out those people who are genuinely going to be a good fit versus someone just saying the right thing to be hired? The next best step would be proceeding to reference check. Ideal references would be three to four people in supervisory positions. It’s also best to speak to a range of people. If you’re hiring a new graduate, don’t just speak with their professors but also the supervisor at McDonald's for their part time shift. Did they show up on time, did they commit to the position, were they supportive of their co-workers? Most people can learn new skills so when hiring, it’s more important to focus on values and work ethic.
While it’s possible to stop the hiring process after the interview and the reference check, it’s always a good idea to proceed to a second interview and sometimes a third. The more time you spend with a candidate, the more opportunity you have to know if this is a person who will be a good fit for your group.
These additional interviews should allow candidates to meet different team members, explore different locations, and be an opportunity for both sides to learn more about each other. Meeting with the whole team gives candidates an understanding of how the office works, who they will be working with, and what the day-to-day looks like.
You can also get creative with the format of the additional interviews. Options are coffees, group conversations, or just having the candidate in the office for a day or morning to get a feel of the office. Other options are giving people some sample work to do, letting them file, or perhaps asking them to write a sample ethics summary. Or maybe candidates could present a sample informed consent to you as if they were consenting a participant.
As an example of our process, Primesite has developed a de-identified study protocol and chart. We ask candidates to review and write a study summary, understand what kind of procedures are being completed, do up a sample inclusion/exclusion criteria, review adverse events, and write up concomitant medications. This is an excellent practice to see how candidates work, their attention to detail, and how they deal with feedback.
Using these techniques, it’s possible to get great people working in your research program. Finding the right person for the right job can be a lot of work and a huge investment in time. Primesite can help assist with hiring the right candidate. Contact us to learn more.