Want a job in healthcare? It can be difficult to know precisely what an employer wants. Job descriptions outline what a role involves but you often only glean exact detail from speaking directly to an employer.

We spoke to Wayne Large, head of clinical services at one of the UK’s largest private healthcare providers, who provides invaluable advice on what skills employers look for and what you need to do to reach the top in your field. Wayne has been recruiting for around 10 years and makes the final decision when it comes to which candidate is successful.

What advice do you have for those wishing to climb up the healthcare career ladder?

A successful career in healthcare requires an in-depth knowledge of their craft. Know the business inside out, get to know how the processes work and seek to understand how your own role supports other roles and departments. Seek opportunities to visit other departments to understand what they do and how you can make things work better for our patients.

Stay positive: if something needs improving then seek ways to help do that. Get involved in steering groups, committees and other projects so that you can contribute to change.

What three skills do you look for in healthcare leaders?

Enthusiasm: being positive when things are going well but also when they aren’t. The desire to take things a little at a time and making easy wins to get things done.

Confidence: not simply confidence during the interview but a calmness that comes with knowledge and experience. That sort of feeling you get when the candidate really understands the issues we face and genuinely offers some possible solutions or knows how and where to get the solution.

Autonomy: the ability to be self-sufficient and work with good judgment skills. The ability to assess and mitigate risk and to make sound decisions based on that.

Describe where a candidate failed at the interview stage and what they did wrong.

I interviewed a candidate who on paper was very strong indeed. This person had many years of experience running a busy department in a very similar hospital. Qualifications were excellent and were well known in the local area.

During the interview, it became clear that this candidate was quite unhappy in their present role and described the shortcomings of their present situation. They focused on their historical experience and the fact that they were well known. The candidate also pointed out that they lived very nearby and saw this as a benefit.

The interview questions highlighted that the candidate was clearly out of date with current trends and that they did not subscribe to our values and behaviours.

Describe when a candidate shone at the interview stage and what they did right.

Another candidate was interviewed for the same position the same day as the person described above. This person was not as experienced and this role was a promotion from deputy level up to head of department.

But they clearly demonstrated current experience and knowledge and displayed innovative thinking. They were clear about the support they required to make the jump up to a more senior position and they showed enthusiasm and a strong desire to succeed.

It became clear during the interview that this person could lead this new department with some early support and could instil our values into the rest of the team moving forward.

What current or future healthcare technology innovation or development are you most excited about and how should healthcare candidates be preparing for this trend?

I think one of the most exciting advances in healthcare technology is in moving towards a paperless environment with a fully electronic set of medical records. While some larger organisations like the NHS are making headway towards this goal, I think it is fair to say that there is a long way to go. 

The issues are that many different projects are underway in an uncoordinated approach and information is stored in a myriad of formats and locations. This brings many challenges, none more important than data protection.

I think it is essential that today’s candidates are conversant with new technology and advances in healthcare information technology. They need to particularly understand the risks to information security especially when patients are treated by many different agencies.

Got what it takes?

Demand for healthcare professionals has never been higher and we have many jobs for people with your skills.