Recruiting for Critical Roles During a Crisis

Recruiting for Critical Roles During the COVID-19 Crisis


Filling mission critical roles during the pandemic is essential – yet traditional recruitment processes have been suspended. With social distancing, healthcare organizations must employ creative ways to recruit, interview and fill necessary roles. Since many leaders are redeployed to command centers, testing sites  and other roles on the frontline, bringing critical talent on board is a challenge. While immediate demands are an all consuming top priority, failure to fill the pipeline for positions that will be vital to reopen services must continue. Uncertainty about the timeline to ramp up to “business as usual” and understanding how the crisis might impact current and future resources adds to the complexity. A full recovery of organizational function and performance will need to evolve over time. However, healthcare leaders are taking some steps now to position their organizations as favorably as possible to meet the current and intermediate demands for leadership resources. 

Healthcare organizations need to address emergent leadership needs during the crisis while positioning to sustain leadership resources as the crisis subsides. Approaches to consider include: 

  • Filling and supplementing mission critical leadership roles now.
  • Redesigning the recruitment and selection process. 
  • Developing a plan to fill the pipeline for resources to reopen services.
  • Anticipating shifts in the resource pool due to fatigue, burn out, illness or earlier retirements.
  • Expanding resource reach through new technology.
  • Employing  supplemental resources or just in time leadership reinforcement.

What Healthcare Leaders See as Mission Critical Leadership Roles


  • Executive Leadership
  • Emergency Services
  • Critical Care
  • Pharmacy
  • Supply Chain
  • Facilities & Environmental Services
  • Employee Health/Occupational Health Services

Ensuring a Successful Leadership Video Interview: Tips for Organizations


  • Offer support to let the interviewee test the technology prior to the interview.
  • Be sure contact phone numbers are exchanged in the event there are technical difficulties/delays. 
  • Assign a point person to greet the candidate, ensure interviewers are on time, technology works, and virtually escort the candidate to the next interview in a timely manner. 
  • Consider how the interview panel will appear on the interviewee’s screen. Have each interviewer access the meeting from their own computer on a platform that allows the interviewers to be visible to one another and to the candidate. 
  • Provide the name and position/title for each interviewer in advance.
  • Limit the size of the interview team; 2-5 participants is ideal.
  • Allow short intervals between sessions and remember to schedule breaks during an all day interview. 
  • Identify who will welcome and provide a warm greeting to the candidate as if you would in person. 
  • Make eye contact, engage the candidate and prohibit multitasking during the interview. 
  • Ensure some structure to the interview such as assigning several questions so that everyone is not talking at once and to prevent  lags during the interview. 
  • Recording the interview will allow the video interview to be shared with other stakeholders, however, the candidate must give permission.
  • Be certain your video conferencing software is HIPAA/PIPEDA compliant. 

Video Conferencing Software Resources for Healthcare Organizations


Microsoft Teams

Recruitment Remains Essential During a Healthcare Crisis


While the increased need for frontline caregivers is apparent, there is also an unprecedented need for leadership. According to Sigma Theta Tau International Research Congress, during a crisis “the demand for health care services exceeds capacity to respond and the institution’s normally acceptable patterns of operations and logistics are disrupted.” During a crisis, staff will require additional leadership visibility and support in all areas and on all shifts.

Increasing the leader to staff ratio during COVID-19 can:

  • Drive successful response to atypical events,
  • Promote staff and patient safety,
  • Maintain staff engagement and morale through stressful unprecedented times,
  • Reduce burnout and fatigue on the front lines.

While we appear to be mid-crisis, evidence suggests we will face these same challenges again. We will need to learn from the current situation so we are better prepared in the future. As so eloquently stated in The Journal of Nursing Administration (JONA), “adaptive leadership, driven by strong values and morality, can guide leaders and organizations through the most difficult times.”