There’s no single ingredient or skill that makes a great physician. Medical skills and qualifications are important when you’re looking for suitable candidates for an opportunity; however, some of the most important personal traits and qualities can’t be found on a CV. Physician candidates need to fit in culturally if they are going to succeed at an organization, so some traits are better assessed in person.
Patients are demanding a higher level of service every day, so healthcare employers are hungry for candidates who exhibit additional character traits and interpersonal skills that often characterize a doctor’s relationships with other people. These traits (also called “soft skills”) can be recognized in nearly every interaction you have with a candidate. You can listen for them as you notice them in interviews and can note the traits that come through in their stories about work and their careers.
Resume-writing service, Zety, recently conducted a survey of recruiting and hiring managers and asked what personal traits and qualities they want most in candidates. Here’s how their top ten ranked:
- Loyalty: Someone who’s loyal to their team and their organization
- Integrity: In part because organizations are under increased public scrutiny
- Sincerity: Do people believe what the candidate is saying
- Adaptability: People who can roll with the punches, tackle problems, and find new opportunities
- Kindness: Candidates who avoid unnecessary conflict help build trust
- Patience: Does a candidate deal with patients and colleagues politely and efficiently? That requires patience
- Persistence: Achieving any kind of goal requires persistence
- Emotional Intelligence: Needed to read others’ emotions and to communicate effectively
- Tolerance: If a candidate is intolerant, it creates a negative and even hostile environment
- Open-Mindedness: Someone who is open to trying new ways to solve problems or approach challenges
These traits also create positive doctor-patient relationships, which are proven to improve patient outcomes, per a report from the National Institutes of Health: “The doctor-patient relationship involves vulnerability and trust. It is one of the most moving and meaningful experiences shared by human beings.” We asked recruiters for traits they look for that are specific to physician candidates. Here are five:
- Strong Communicators: Effective communication is critical for patient care, but it’s also vital when it comes to relaying information across the healthcare system. Doctors who communicate well will build trust with patients, and patients who understand their doctor are more likely to be open about health problems.
- Good Listening Skills: Doctors need to listen to patients to diagnose correctly, but they also need to listen to colleagues to be an effective part of a team.
- Curiosity: When a patient presents with baffling or unusual symptoms, inherent curiosity can lead a doctor to an accurate diagnosis.
- Unbiased: Patients want to know a physician is recommending treatment or a drug because it’s the best thing for them, free from bias or outside influences.
- Objectivity: Can a candidate take a step back and look at challenges and opportunities clearly? One good indicator of objectivity is to ask why a candidate wants to change jobs. Are they moving for a great opportunity, or are they running from something? Author and philanthropist Quint Studer offers this advice for candidates: “If you are happy where you are and after a lot of thought you end up leaving the job, you’re most likely leaving for the right reasons. You are moving to, not running from.”
There’s a clear connection between strong social skills and success, and there’s an intensely human side to the recruitment process. In-person impressions are essential, but peer assessments and feedback from a candidate’s colleagues are also a great way to assess traits. A look at their published works will offer hints as well. Many of these traits and characteristics can be key to combating physician burnout. They also go a long way toward improving physician satisfaction. We invite you to read our tips for improving physician satisfaction.