In the world of private practice, making the right hire can be a game-changer. It’s not just about filling a role; it’s about finding the perfect fit to enhance your practice’s success. Enter the MoSCoW method, a valuable tool that private practice owners can wield to determine precisely what they’re looking for in a new practitioner.


What is the MoSCoW method?

In business, The MoSCoW method comprises four essential steps for determining which project requirements yield the highest return on investment. MoSCoW stands for must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have (The ‘o’s are there to make the acronym easier to pronounce). It’s a prioritisation approach often used in project management, enabling everyone involved to determine what work to prioritise and why.

In project management, the MoSCoW method allows you to prioritise your work requirements by categorising them as follows:

  • Must-have: Requirements that are critical for the successful completion of the project
  • Should-have: Requirements that are important but not necessary for the project completion
  • Could-have: Requirements that are desirable / nice to have, but have little impact when left out of the project
  • Won’t-have (for now): Requirements that are the least important and/or not appropriate for the current project.


The MoSCoW method for private practice recruitment

The MoSCoW method can be a useful tool for many business purposes, beyond project management. At The Practice Lab, we encourage private practice owners to apply this method to support their decision making process, especially when considering a new addition to their team.


Prioritising your recruitment requirements

When you’re in the process of hiring a new team member, whether a practitioner or administrative staff, it’s natural to have an ideal candidate in mind. However, the reality is that you’re unlikely to find someone who fits that perfect mould and meets all your practice’s needs. That’s where the MoSCoW method can be really helpful.

The MoSCoW method is a way to help you prioritise and carefully consider what qualities and qualifications are absolutely essential in a potential candidate, and which ones can be flexible or temporarily overlooked. It allows you to make thoughtful decisions and focus on the qualities that are most important for your practice right now. At the same time, it lets you be selective where it matters most while remaining open to the possibility of finding a great candidate who might not meet every single requirement.



These are the non-negotiable qualities or skills that your ideal candidate must possess. They’re the foundation of what will make your private practice thrive. Think of them as the essential building blocks for a successful hire. If a candidate doesn’t meet these criteria, it’s a clear sign that they might not be the right fit.



While not as critical as must-have qualities, should-have attributes are still vital. They are the qualities that can greatly enhance the candidate’s suitability for the role. These are the skills and qualities that, while not deal-breakers, would significantly contribute to the candidate’s success in your private practice.



Could-have criteria are desirable but not necessary for a new hire. These are the qualities that, if present in a candidate, would be considered a bonus. They might contribute to an excellent fit, but they won’t make or break the decision to hire. Think of them as the cherry on top of the cake.


Won’t-Have (this time)

Lastly, there are requirements that may not be applicable or are not a priority at this moment. These are the qualities that you’re willing to forgo in your current search but might consider for future hires. They’re not off the table forever but simply don’t take precedence in your current hiring endeavour.

By applying the MoSCoW method, private practice owners can gain clarity on what they truly need in a new team member. It’s a strategic approach that ensures you prioritise your requirements effectively, leading to a better fit and greater success for your practice. You can download The Practice Lab’s MoSCoW worksheet below.



Using the MoSCoW method

While you have the flexibility to adapt the MoSCoW method to your specific requirements, we suggest the following structured approach. Start by compiling a comprehensive list of all the attributes and traits you’re seeking in a potential candidate, without any particular order. This list can encompass qualifications, experience, general skills, and personality traits. Next, classify each item into one of the four MoSCoW groups based on its importance and priority.

We recommend limiting the number of items you can have per group – for example, 5 must-haves and 7 should-haves, with any remaining items falling into the could-have and won’t-have categories. This approach encourages you to be discerning in your selections, preventing the tendency to overload the must-have and should-have categories with too many items.

If you have trouble categorising the requirement items into the right group, consider using the Triple C Prioritisation Matrix developed by The Practice Lab. This scoring method enables you to evaluate each item or decision according to its impact on the client, the clinic (business), and the clinic’s culture, assigning a score ranging from 1 to 5 for each category. Add the scores together for a final rating. You can then arrange the items based on their scores, with those receiving the highest scores occupying the top priority as must-have items.

The MoSCoW method serves as a valuable tool for reevaluating requirements that you might have always considered non-negotiable. It encourages you to explore various scenarios and ponder questions like:


1. Is it a deal breaker if a candidate who is otherwise perfect is only after a full-time employee position instead of a contractor position?

If your clinic’s cash flow position necessitates hiring a contractor, then this requirement becomes a must-have. In that case, a candidate seeking a different employment arrangement may not align with your clinic’s needs.


2. Is it a deal breaker if a candidate who is otherwise perfect is available only one day per week?

Consider whether the availability of at least two days a week is an absolute necessity or if it can be categorised as a should-have. If it ranks lower in priority compared to other requirements, such as the ability to see specific client types, then a candidate with limited availability might still be a viable option.


3. Is it a deal breaker if a candidate who is otherwise perfect is not eligible for Medicare rebates?

The eligibility for Medicare rebates can fall within various categories of the MoSCoW method. Depending on your clinic’s client base and the services you offer, it could be a must-have, should-have, or could-have requirement.

In essence, leveraging the MoSCoW method encourages you to think creatively and consider alternative possibilities for candidates whom you might have previously dismissed. It prompts you to explore different options and flexibly adapt your requirements. On the flip side, it also empowers you to stand firm on your must-have criteria, ensuring that you don’t compromise on essential elements that are crucial for your clinic’s success. By applying this method, you strike a balance between flexibility and firmness in your hiring decisions, ultimately benefiting your business.


Applying the MoSCoW method for private practice recruitment

Once you’ve successfully completed the MoSCoW exercise to prioritise the attributes and traits you’re seeking in a candidate, it’s time to put your insights into action. Here’s how you can apply the MoSCoW method effectively in your recruitment process.


1. Writing a more realistic job advertisement

  • Highlight must-have qualities: Incorporate the must-have attributes and traits prominently in your job ad to attract candidates who possess these essential qualifications. Be clear and specific about what’s non-negotiable.
  • Mention should-have traits: While not as critical as must-have qualifications, include the should-have qualities in your job ad. This informs potential candidates about the additional skills and traits that are important for success in the role.
  • Optional inclusion of could-have: Depending on the space and the importance of could-have qualities, you may choose to mention these as well, but it’s not essential in a job ad. These are the attributes that can add value but are not critical at this stage.


2. Shortlisting the candidates

  • Filter based on must-have: During the initial screening process, prioritise candidates who meet the must-have criteria. This ensures you’re considering individuals who possess the essential qualifications required for the role.
  • Evaluate should-have: As you narrow down your candidate pool, pay close attention to the should-have attributes. These are important, and candidates who meet these criteria should move forward in the selection process.
  • Consider could-have as a bonus: While not a primary factor in the shortlisting stage, could-have qualities can still be a valuable asset. Candidates who exhibit these traits can be seen as potential assets, but they shouldn’t be the sole basis for selection.


3. Interviewing the candidates

  • Probe for must-have attributes: During the interview, focus on assessing the candidates’ must-have qualities extensively. Ask targeted questions and seek concrete examples of how they’ve demonstrated these essential skills and traits in their previous roles.
  • Explore should-have competencies: For candidates who meet the must-have criteria, delve deeper into their should-have attributes. Enquire about their experiences and capabilities related to these qualities to ensure they align with your practice’s needs.
  • Consider could-have as a differentiator: Could-have attributes can serve as differentiators among final candidates. While not necessary, they can be a tiebreaker if you’re torn between two equally qualified individuals. Enquire about their experiences and enthusiasm for developing these skills.


By systematically incorporating the MoSCoW method into your clinic’s recruitment process, you ensure that you’re making informed decisions based on the most critical attributes and traits for your new team member. This structured approach helps you identify the ideal candidate who not only possesses the essential qualifications but also aligns with your practice’s specific needs and priorities.



Below are some further recommendations for implementing the MoSCoW method for your private practice’s recruitment process.


1. Get your team’s input

Getting input from your team when using the MoSCoW method for hiring can be incredibly valuable.

  • Diverse perspectives: Gather input from team members who will work closely with the new hire. Different team members may have unique insights into what qualities and traits are most important for the role.
  • Collaborative decision-making: Encourage open discussions and brainstorming sessions where team members can share their opinions on the prioritisation of attributes. This collaborative approach ensures that the entire team has a say in the hiring criteria.
  • Consensus building: Work towards consensus on the MoSCoW list. When everyone is aligned on the priorities, it fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the hiring process.


2. Save the list for next time

Maintaining a record of your prioritised attributes and traits is a smart move for future hiring endeavours.

  • Digital documentation: Download and use The Practice Lab’s MoSCoW worksheet, or create your own document or spreadsheet that outlines the MoSCoW criteria. Keep it well-organised and easily accessible for future reference.
  • Review and update: Periodically review and update your prioritised list to ensure it remains relevant. As your practice evolves, so too might your hiring criteria.
  • Benchmarking: Use your past hiring criteria as a benchmark for future hires. This consistency helps in maintaining a standardised hiring process and ensures alignment with your practice’s goals and values.
Need help working out your practice’s recruitment needs? Talk to our private practice business coaches to build a recruitment strategy that works for your practice!