Candidate Assessment for Hiring a New EMS Manager

As the EMS managers and administrators running ambulance services today begin to retire, does your agency have the procedures in place to find and replace them? Perhaps your agency has had to remove someone from their position and now you find yourself wondering how to get a new manger. Do you promote the next most senior person or do you conduct a hiring assessment to evaluate your candidates? Do you consider current employees or open up the process to outside candidates?

Hiring a new EMS manager for your ambulance service requires more than a half-hour job interview and an offer letter. Many agencies that hire by those standards often find themselves looking for a new manager or administrator sooner than they anticipated.

A structured and disciplined methodology works to the advantage of an EMS organization in the selection of the next ambulance manager or administrator. A comprehensive hiring process that will help demonstrate the qualifications and experience of the best candidate for the position is a better approach than just conducting a single interview.

The following set of steps are designed to help an agency determine the qualifications for an administrator, completely evaluate potential candidates – including conducting a thorough background check – and help those reviewing the candidates make an informed recommendation on the best applicant.

To help manage the approach to hiring a new leader, I offer a 10-step process to improve your success in finding the best candidate to manage and lead your organization.

1. If you haven’t already, determine the job qualifications of the position. It is important that these requirements have input and evaluation by the board of directors or city manager/city council that supervises this position and not just be developed by the manager after they are hired. Candidates who apply for your manager/administrator position should know what the job description is before they start the application process.

2. Establish a project timeline, factoring in the application period, candidate selection for the assessment center, the assessment center evaluation and time for background and reference checks. The development of a timeline will help keep your process on track and on time. Make sure to set deadlines for every area and indicate who is responsible to accomplish certain tasks to meet those deadlines.

3. Develop an application process that details the administrator qualifications and background needed for the job. Provide the job description and candidate application for employment, including the collection of reference checks and background information.

4. Conduct a search for candidates. The search should be conducted by the agency based on the qualifications developed and the application process provided. This usually involves advertising in local newspapers, metropolitan newspapers in your state, and in some cases national magazine ads, either print or web-based.

5. Develop a candidate assessment center. While the job search is being conducted, the candidate assessment center should be developed for the agency that is designed to evaluate manager/administrator applicant qualifications and background as they relate to the position in the organization.

The careful evaluation and review of candidates prior to hiring is a critical point in the selection of an administrator. Many agencies make the mistake of just conducting an interview when hiring managers. One component of an assessment center is an oral interview. However, it is not the only one. An assessment center involves a number of exercises (or stations) designed to test a candidate s skills and knowledge. Each exercise is designed to evaluate a specific area of the job duties for the open position and measure the candidate s skills, knowledge and abilities related to those job duties.

With multiple exercises, the evaluation of a candidate s performance is not based on just one score. An applicant’s performance on each exercise is measured by a predetermined rating system, and candidates are then ranked on the basis of their overall scores. The exercises are not designed to trick anyone into having a poor performance. But, in some cases, they are stressful by design. A candidate s evaluation is based not on just one exercise but on their overall performance during the entire assessment.

6. Applicant selection for assessment center. The selection process of candidates for evaluation in an assessment center is based upon a review of candidates that submit applications and resumes for the announced position. The number of candidates selected for the assessment center will depend on the project plan.

7. Conduct an assessment center for candidates selected. Assessment centers for a position like this should be a minimum of two or three days in length to ensure a detailed evaluation and review of the candidates through the assessment center exercises and interviews. Using a pre-determined scoring matrix, the candidates are ranked in order according to their scores in each area.

8. Conduct a background investigation of candidate(s) selected. The more time and effort (and sometimes money) spent to investigate your chosen candidate up front, the less worry or chance of something going wrong you ll have at a later date. At a minimum, you need to make sure your star candidate is not currently under probation for a felony, and that they have a valid driver s license or are able to obtain one in your state, if they’re from out of state. Detailed reference and job checks must be conducted, and every effort made to get a complete picture of the candidate.

9. When the results of the assessment center and background check are made available to the decision makers, a phone call should be made to determine if the candidate will accept the position offered. This is followed up by a written offer letter that outlines the job offer and benefits and gives an anticipated start date.

10. Prepare a written report and/or oral presentation of results. As a board or city council, documentation is the key to sound business decisions. A report – written and/or oral – should be made in a public meeting that presents the results – not the details of the process, or the scores. This report usually is done after the candidate has accepted the employment offer.

This is a brief synopsis of my recommendation for a hiring process. Obviously, much more detail is required in each step. The goal is to do a complete evaluation and hire the best person for the position in your EMS agency. Don t just take the easy route; take the time to develop a sound process, and your efforts will result in hiring the right person for the job.