For Health System C-Suites – On making your final selection from your top 3 candidates

Kurt Scott
By Kurt Scott

This next step will help clarify the front runner

Your Executive Search Committee has narrowed down the candidate pool to the top 3 candidates. There will be a whole host of reasons the top three are in the mix but some of those reasons may not increase the likelihood of success in moving the department/organization forward. Reasons could include the one least likely to make significant changes, or the one most liked, or an internal candidate that everyone knows and are comfortable with. How do you significantly increase your chances of selecting the “best”? Here’s your “crystal ball“…


Answer: The Vision Statement

The concept of asking finalist candidates to prepare and submit their vision statement to the Search Committee was introduced to me by Dr. Glenn Steele Jr. soon after he joined Geisinger Health System as CEO. I found the process energizing and engaging, often with a surprise front runner emerging from the process.

There are Rules and Preparation Needed

First, make sure you communicate to candidates entering the process that if chosen to be among the finalist’s, they will be asked to prepare their vision statement for submission to the Search Committee. By knowing this going into the recruitment process, they can approach their interviews with the perspective of gathering the information they need to put together a comprehensive vision.

At the onset of a new search, start preparing your “Resource Compendium.” This is an information packed document that’s given to the top finalists that supplies them with everything they need to know about the area they will be leading. This is an invaluable tool for them to prepare their vision statements.

Have your legal team prepare a nondisclosure document. The finalists are required to sign prior to receiving the compendium.

Information to include:

  • Department’s complete org chart
  • List of physician staff with brief bio’s
  • Numbers of department employees by title/role
  • Locations and facilities with square footage
  • Noteworthy equipment and technology
  • Department’s honors and awards
  • Any academic endeavors
  • Research stats
  • Patient programs and services offered
  • P&L statement and budget
  • Patient volume stats
  • Referral patterns
  • Any initiatives in the planning stages
  • A current strategic plan and plans for growth
  • The market and competition
  • Challenges to meeting current goals
  • Who’s your biggest competitor in this market? Why?

The invite to continue in the process and prepare their “Vision Statement”

The only rule… “There are no rules”

The calls to invite your top 3 candidates should be done by the hiring leader. This is powerful and carries a lot of weight. Once you congratulate them and make sure they want to continue in the process, here’s the request:

Please prepare for submission to the Chair of the Search Committee, along with committee members, your 3 to 5 year “Vision” for the Department or Division you will be leading. We will overnight you our “Resource Compendium” with additional information you will need.

The format is your choice. The length is your choice. We have no preconceived notions about what it will look like.

You have 3 weeks to prepare and submit to the Chair of the Search Committee.

Here are the areas we would like you to cover:

As leader of this department, what would you want to accomplish over the next 3 to 5 years.

How do you plan on getting there?

What resources will you need to meet your goals? (Staff, facilities, equipment, budget etc.)

What challenges do you anticipate and what are your plans to overcome them?

Ask them if they accept the challenge…

Next Steps & Options

Once the vision statements are received, there are a couple options as how to proceed.

First is to have the Search Committee meet to discuss all three and expect recommendations as to the order of preference.

Second would be to invite the top 3 to present (and even defend) their vision to the Search Committee. In today’s environment, a video conference would be fine. After all presentations are completed, the Search Committee would reconvene and discuss, again, making the recommendations by ranking their top 3. (This option is my preference)

Based on experience, here’s what you can expect…

You should get a much clearer and in-depth understanding of each candidates’ ability to think strategically, sell their ideas, get creative and communicate effectively.

Your early frontrunner may indeed fall on their own sword moving them down in the rankings or out of the running all together.

You may experience a “sleeper” who’s vision just blows you away.

Often, internal candidates will surprise you. (sometimes good, sometimes bad) Yes, your internal candidates should go through the exact same process as your external candidates to ensure consistent vetting and evaluation.

Most importantly, you should find out who (if any), has a vision that matches that of your organization’s leaders with the desire, ability and skillset to get you where you want to go.

Kurt Scott, Founder and CEO

The Physician Leadership Career Network

KWScott Recruitment Consulting

352-549-1767 mobile