Interview with the director of human resources of Toronto General Hospital

“The candidate’s enthusiasm is capital!” 

Interview with Bill Locke, Director of human resources of Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network

WHAT JOB OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE WITH THE TORONTO GENERAL HOSPITAL AND THE UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK?

The University Health Network includes three hospitals: the Toronto General Hospital, specializing in transplantations and cardiovascular medicine; the Toronto Western Hospital, expert in neurology and orthopedics; and finally the Princess Margaret Hospital, where we handle oncology and cancer treatment. So there are many job opportunities within the Network, especially in nursing, whether in general medicine, intensive care units or in psychiatry. Just to give you an idea, we are currently looking to hire 300 students in this area. For now, we have as many doctors as we need, but there are other openings in finance, accounting and human resources.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECRUITING PROCESS?

In fact, we have three processes—one for students, then one each for internal and external recruiting. In the first case, we have agents who cover colleges and universities across the country to tell students about our job opportunities. For internal recruiting, we have bulletin boards to let employees know about the various career openings available to them. Finally, our website is a major showcase for external recruiting. We also run our ads in various newspapers and specialized job boards.

IS THE RECRUITING PROCESS THE SAME FOR ALL OCCUPATIONS?

Once we’re in communication with a candidate, the process is essentially the same whether the person is a nurse or an accountant. Only doctors, who are always referred, are seen directly by the chief medical officer. For other types of positions, we put candidates in touch with the manager of the department where they would like to work. After, we most often have them come in for an interview, and that’s when we also offer them a tour of our various facilities.

WHAT LEVEL OF EDUCATION DOES THE UNIVERSITY HEALTH NETWORK REQUIRE?

Nowadays, our needs are such that we no longer hire anyone who does not have at least a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s required for certain specialized nursing jobs. Our finance, human resources and accounting jobs also require a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

WHAT ARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CVS?

We are looking for people with exceptional qualities in providing patient care, people who can work with different types of professionals. The CV must absolutely emphasize these skills. It also has to clearly express the candidate’s desire to work in a university hospital. We provide many kinds of training, and that’s why it’s important for us to know what a candidate’s professional objectives are for the next three to five years. This lets us see how we could help that person develop his or her career within the University Health Network.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE COVER LETTER?

It’s a capital element because it’s often what we’ll read first. Of course, it has to provide general information about the candidate including current job, future aspirations, general qualifications, availability and contact information. It can also provide additional information of interest, such as a candidate’s upcoming visit to Toronto, for example. Above all, though, it has to communicate the person’s motivation and enthusiasm. Often the cover letter will be what makes a difference between two candidates. It therefore has to be particularly well presented and written.

WHAT TYPES OF QUESTIONS SHOULD CANDIDATES ASK?

Anything they can think of! Often, candidates are too shy to ask questions, which is a mistake, because this leads us to question how interested they truly are in working here. When facing a potential employer, it’s normal to have questions. For example, what does a typical work day involve? What are your training policies? Which specialties are practised? What benefits do you offer? How do you evaluate employee performance? All these questions are valid, and we encourage them throughout or after the interview.

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