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The Importance of Selecting Good People

Published August 18, 2009 10:00 AM by Brian Garavaglia

Click here to read Brian's column "Gerotalk" on the ADVANCE for Long-Term Care Management Web site.

One of the important needs of an administrator is to select people that are well-rounded, and knowledgeable in their skills.  One of the important duties of a long-term care administrator is to select the appropriate people to fill the necessary positions within the long-term care facility. The administrator often has to select and fill important managerial positions, and the ramifications for selecting the correct people can have important implications for the proper functioning of the facility.  Therefore, the administrator has to be fully aware of the impact of their decision.  

Although most administrators are aware of the importance in selecting the correct person to fill important managerial positions, they frequently will make less than the optimal choice in their selection process.  A common mistake that I often hear, and one that often makes very little sense is, "the person is overqualified for the position." As they filter through a number of resumes, they will often disqualify those individuals that have considerable qualifications. Now, in the opposite direction, it makes perfect sense to eliminate those that do not have the necessary qualifications to take on an important managerial position.  However, at the other extreme, using the argument that you eliminated a person because "they are overqualified" is not a logical argument whatsoever.  Hiring a person is a binary distinction: They are either qualified or they are not qualified.  You can disqualify a candidate for not having the necessary qualifications, but to disqualify a candidate for being supposedly "overqualified" is an error in logic and can limit your candidate selection pool to suboptimal candidates.

Think of the lack of logical consistency that exists behind this type of statement. Although most individuals what to hire the "best" candidate they often will automatically disqualify certain individuals based on this error in thinking. How can one select the best candidate for a long-term care facility, or for that matter any job, if you disqualify certain individuals due to the "overqualified fallacy"? In reality, how can one be overqualified? What does this statement really mean? 

On many occasions individuals will use this illogical terminology to protect themselves. Many individuals, due to hubris, will attempt to protect themselves against hiring a person who is perceived to be too smart or too experienced. To hire a person that often has greater qualifications then themselves can be intimidating to many, but this type of hubris can also limit the administrator from hiring the best qualified person to fill an important position.

Another reason that is used to disqualify the supposedly "overqualified" person is that they will request too much money.  Most individuals that apply for positions often are quite aware of the salary range for these positions. However, many who are hiring for these important positions assume the person that is seeking these positions are totally naïve about the position's salary range. Therefore, the person who may want to come and work for the long-term care facility, with considerable qualifications and who would excel in this position, is presumptuously eliminated by those doing the hiring. 

Without providing an interview, many excellent candidates are frequently lost due to their resumes being thrown in the garbage without any follow up due to the all too assuming administrator thinking that they will not be able to afford the person. In our current economy, many workers who are very qualified are looking for work. Many also are able to bring a considerable level of skills and knowledge to the long-term care community. However, because those who are in charge of hiring continue to make assumptions without even speaking to the candidate, many facilities loss qualified personnel that can ultimately enhance the quality of the long-term care environment.

One last comment: As a corollary to the aforementioned assumption made about higher qualifications equaling too high of a salary, even when a person is interviewed and is determined to be an excellent candidate for the position, many will fail to hire the candidate since their requested salary is slightly hirer than the budgeted salary for that position. In many cases the administrator or other hiring personnel make another important error in thinking: they view the cost of the candidate on a purely monetary level. They look totally at the wage expense and fail to look at how the candidate themselves could potentially save costs for the facility in the long run. This myopic tendency to focus only on wages is all too frequently the only calculated interest that many administrators take into consideration. However, if the person has cost-saving qualities, going beyond the budgeted salary cap can make very good sense, especially when their skills will offset this higher salary and ultimately save the facility numerous costs that would not be saved by hiring a less qualified person.

The administrator and other hiring personnel within a long-term care facility often fall prey to common errors in thinking, which ultimately hamper their ability to select the best people to fill important positions. This can be a major problem and many facilities actually settle for hiring less qualified people due to presumptuous mental biases that administrators and other members of the hiring team hold. As mentioned, many people will often invoke the "overqualified fallacy," which has no logical basis. 

Furthermore, since many also suffer from "wage myopia," viewing the highly qualified candidate totally in light of a wage expense that they cannot afford, many will often fail to interview the person or disqualify them on the basis of being an over-budgeted wage expense. Yet, as was mentioned, one has to also look at the other side of the equation. Although the facility may pay a wage expense that slightly exceeds the budget for that position, the slightly higher expense paid out in wages may be recouped in savings in other areas that a highly qualified person can bring to the facility. Therefore, before an administrator makes cursory judgments toward disqualifying potential candidates based on the errors in thinking that were mentioned, it would behoove them to closely examine these potential biases that they may hold and the costs that these biases may have for the facility.                                     

posted by Brian Garavaglia


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About this Blog

    Brian Garavaglia, PhD
    Occupation: Long-term care administrator
    Setting: Sterling Heights, Mich.
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