Online Recruitment Tools

Over this past summer, June-July 2017, I surveyed 111 training program administrators on recruitment. I wanted to get a sense of how many programs were moving towards the new online recruitment management systems, why they were doing it, why they weren’t, and were the online systems effective. At the same time I also surveyed 3rd and 4th year medical students at Boston University, and the incoming interns, residents and fellows to Boston Medical Center started in June and July 2017, on their preferences for recruitment, the results of their survey will be discussed in a follow up article. Today we focus on the training program admin, and what they had to say!

To my surprise, the overwhelming majority of respondents did not use online management tools for recruiting (72%). When followed up on why their programs did not use online tools, 40% of respondents indicating they did not feel that their program required such a system or the program was not interested in using one. Most of the comments in this category were related to the program’s size, indicating that many respondents thought that the online systems were geared towards larger programs. There were also many written in comments regarding not wanting to move from the currently working system, to one that they weren’t familiar with and were unclear as to how such a tool would benefit the program.

The second highest reason, at 26%, were concerns over cost, either they had expressed interest to department leadership previously to use such systems and were denied, or they felt that budgets were so tight that they weren’t comfortable requesting for funds.

The third category, at 19%, were respondents that had not heard about online software’s for recruitment or had heard about the softwares, but had never researched what softwares were available nor what they were capable of.

15% of respondents indicated that they were aware of the availability of recruiting software, but that tools that they did looked into had not meet the needs of their program.

Of the 28% that are using online recruiting tools, 99% answered that making the switch had a positive impact on their job, answering with either “extremely positive” or “moderately positive”. And the overwhelming majority (90%) of online users indicated that time saving was their main goal in switching to an online system. Both groups were polled on how many hours they spent doing various recruitment tasks, and with the sole exception of organizing faculty to conduct resident interviews, all other areas showed a decrease in time spent on the tasks by those that were using online tools.

The largest difference was 6 hours and 21 min less spent sending out interview invitations. Offline users reported an average time of 15 hours doing this task, while online users reported an average of 8 hours 42min. In each of the following categories, there were over 3 hour decreases reported by online users, on average:

  • Scheduling of interview dates

  • Rescheduling of faculty interviewers

  • Organizing post interview feedback

And there was a slight difference of half an hour in the rescheduling of interviewees. Altogether, the online users spent, on average, 20 hours less doing recruitment tasks than the non-online users. Here are some of the overall comments from those using online systems, and those that are not.

Comments from online users: “Interview season is super simple now”, “I would never go back to manually scheduling interviews.”, “such a timesaver and reduce errors”, “This has saved hours of time in communication with candidates. We have received positive feedback from applicants”, “We want it, applicants want it but it must be user friendly.”, “Saved hours of scheduling and really helps with rescheduling”, “Using...last year for the first time greatly decreased my time and stress in regards to scheduling and rescheduling interviews”, “Feedback from the surveys is that the candidates LOVE it and once I send out the interview invites, I seldom deal with any interview scheduling issues.”, “I have told my program director, I would pay for this system out of my own pocket before I would go back to scheduling through emails or phone calls.”, “My previous institution used it and it was a huge time saver. We also found that applicants prefer this method.”

Comments from non-online users: “As long as there is training on how to use the software, I'm willing to try anything that will make my job easier.”, “online systems are somewhat unpredictable, as there were issues last year. I feel better with my own devised system”, “would like to have this type of system available.”, “we prefer our method”, “The software does not accommodate our scheduling needs”, “prefer managing interview slots internally”, “Our current method works well and does not require too much effort”, “We do not interview many (6-8 typically) so it is easier to do it myself”, “My program is small and it is not necessary”, “interview software would only complicate the scheduling process”, “our program enjoys using a more personal touch”

As recruitment season gears up for residencies, and all you fellowship administrators are already in the thick of it, I’d love to hear about your experience with and without online recruitment tools.

I, personally, am only aware of a few different tools currently available, Interview Broker, GME Thalamus and most recently 3rd Friday. I have not used any of these systems, so I cannot place any recommendations, but I encourage those that have used these or other systems, to please share your experiences in the comments section.

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