Does a candidate say all the right things to a patient access manager during an interview, but roll her eyes when a registrar mentions there are sudden volume surges to contend with? Peer interviews can reveal some surprising things, says Nayesa Walker, MHA, director of patient access at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore.

“In the past, I’ve had candidates who appeared to be great prospects for the role, but were incompetent,” Walker says, noting those candidates’ résumés were everything Walker wanted, and they spoke confidently about their abilities and experience. “One candidate even brought in samples of training materials they’d developed. However, when the employee started working, the skills and expertise were nonexistent.”

Other new hires were constantly late to work, experienced personal issues that interfered with their work, or were entangled in conflicts with colleagues.

“Unfortunately, there were no red flags that made me think they were less than skilled and capable,” Walker laments.

Walker now involves the people the candidate will be working alongside. “Peer-to-peer interviews are great for a number of reasons,” she says. “Candidates are much more relaxed and open when talking with their peers.”

Peers notice things managers don’t, such as a candidate’s hesitancy when hearing about the culture of the department in which they’ll be working.

“Peers hone in on the candidates’ level of commitment and enthusiasm,” Walker explains.

Walker also conducts interdisciplinary interviews, since patient access is part of the team in various outpatient clinics.

“We have great cohesive relationships with our ambulatory clinicians, and their input is very valuable to us,” Walker notes.

Mark Nugent, patient access services manager for the ED at Northwest Community Healthcare, typically involves several colleagues in the hiring process, especially when he’s interviewing multiple candidates for a position.

“This is helpful in making sure the candidates do not run together in my mind. It gives me other viewpoints that I may have missed,” Nugent says.

Front-line staff often can tell if candidates will “jell” with the team. Nugent asks them these questions:

  • Do you believe the candidate would be a good fit with other team members?
  • Is the candidate’s personality compatible with the group?

“This is invaluable information when I am making my decision on who to hire,” Nugent adds.


  • Nayesa Walker, MHA, Director, Patient Access, University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, Baltimore. Phone: (410) 225-8055. Fax: (410) 225-8906. Email: