In-House and Agency Recruiters today are often maligned by candidates and employers alike. Whether candidate confidentiality was compromised, opportunities misrepresented, candidates poorly screened, or any of a host of other common complaints, there is no shortage of Recruiter horror stories out there. Unfortunately, this is a case of a few bad eggs ruining the reputation of the entire field. 


Below are some of the most common, detrimental, and unethical actions committed by both in-house and third party physician recruiters:


Lack Confidentiality


One of the worst things any recruiter can do is breach the confidentiality of a candidate. Not only will this ensure that the candidate will not take a position within your organization, but this will do untold damage to the reputation of the employer and/or third party firm. By breaching candidate confidentiality, recruiters are not only in violation of the National Physician Recruiters Association’s code of ethics, but can also cause that candidate’s termination at their current place of employment. Some ways that recruiters can breach confidentiality are:

  • Contacting anyone at the candidate’s current place of employment for an informal reference with out his/her explicit permission

  • Contacting a candidate’s references (especially early in the physician recruitment process) without their permission

  • Informing a candidate’s current employer of their interviewing with your organization

Disappearing Act


One of the most common complaints from candidates is a lack of communication during the recruitment process between themselves and their recruiter. Whether in-house or third party, many recruiters are guilty going radio silent with candidates for a variety of reasons. This not only reflects poorly on the hiring organization, but can also be considered a violation of ethical guidelines if the lack of communication impedes the placement of the candidate.


Perhaps a less common, but equally unethical version of the disappearing act is that of a third party recruitment firm after the receipt of an initial retainer. This too is in violation of ethical guidelines, in addition to being a breach of contract between the firm and the employing organization. This delay can have detrimental financial and organizational effects on the employing organization, resulting in patients not cared for and revenue lost due to the increased amount of time gone without a needed provider.




Poor Screening


The cost of a bad hire to an organization has been well documented, but that hasn’t stopped some recruiters from conducting incomplete and/or poor candidate screenings, reference checks, and background checks. While often times the burden of background checks fall on employers, both in-house and third party recruiters are guilty of conducting a less than thorough screening of candidates. Doing so can lead to a candidate who is not a fit progressing along through the recruitment process and wasting the time and resources of the employing organization, or worse, being hired for an opportunity to which they are not fully qualified.


Additionally, any third part firm that presents a candidate to an employer that has not been thoroughly screened is in violation of the code of ethics and cannot claim the candidate as their own. Because of this, it is essential for recruiters to thoroughly screen all candidates that they intend to present to an employing organization.




Opportunity Misrepresentation


Misrepresenting an opportunity or employing organization is not only a poor decision in the effort to recruit and retain quality physicians, but also a clear violation of recruiter’s code of ethics. If an opportunity or organization is misrepresented to a candidate, the recruitment effort is thoroughly damaged. The truth about the opportunity and/or organization will eventually come to light, and when it does will often result in the candidate’s withdrawal of interest in the opportunity. What’s more, if the candidate does not realize the inaccuracy portrayed by the hiring organization of the opportunity, they will surely leave for a new opportunity soon after.



Hiring an Ethical Firm


If your organization decides to work with a third-party recruitment firm in an effort to bring on new physicians, it is important that whichever firm you decide to hire holds themselves to the highest ethical standards. 


Some steps you can take to weed out the unethical firms are:


  • Making sure to work with firms who are members in good standing of the National Association of Physician Recruiters.  These firms have sworn to abide by the NAPRs extensive code of ethics in physician recruitment and the NAPR offers employers the ability to report and sanction agencies for unethical actions.
  • Request multiple references of existing clients. Make sure to ask questions regarding the firm’s handling of ethical questions, responsiveness, and overall satisfaction with their service.
  • Request references from candidates placed by the recruiter with whom you’d be working. Knowing how the recruiter treated candidates during the recruitment process can give an employer a fair idea of how they would represent their organization.