For small businesses such as dental practices, one thoughtful hire can make the difference in the culture of the practice, the cohesiveness of the team, the patient experience and, ultimately, the growth of the practice. The process of attracting and retaining long-term, qualified candidates will go more smoothly with a planned strategy. Here are four tips to increase the odds of success.
Clearly define the job description.
A written outline of the person’s roles, responsibilities and expectations for performance helps identify the skills an ideal candidate should have. It also specifies characteristics of the ideal candidate – e.g., education, experience, professional certifications, work habits and personality. Team members may be able to add perspective that sets the tone for future teamwork. The job description drives the recruiting process by communicating the needs and requirements of the practice and establishing criteria for screening resumes. It also sets the context for crafting interview questions.
Look for internal candidates.
Sometimes the perfect person for the role is already in another role within the practice. A lateral or promotional opportunity may be overlooked because the team has become accustomed to the existing role or doesn’t see their broader interests and capabilities. Yet, these employees have a track record to demonstrate their work ethic, competency, reliability and loyalty – qualities that may only be inferred for external candidates. Internal candidates already understand the workplace culture, which will boost their performance in the new position.
This approach also sends a strong message to current and prospective employees that the practice invests in its people and helps them attain their professional goals.
Use the interview to explore how candidates think and act on the job.
Most candidates are well prepared to answer questions that relate directly to the material they’ve provided on their resumes. While it’s entirely appropriate to ask clarifying questions about the candidate’s background, the focus should be on how each individual would respond to the challenges and opportunities the job presents.
Prepare to present real-life scenarios or case studies and explore how each candidate would respond. Role playing can be useful in determining a culture fit and whether a candidate is able to support the clinical philosophy of the practice. These aspects will be evident in their verbal skills and overall patient communications.
Be as attentive to interpersonal dynamics as you are to technical competency.
No matter how skilled or accomplished the candidate, success will be determined by how well he or she interacts with others and fits the culture of the practice. The interviewer needs to be clear on what constitutes a good personality match and be on the lookout for these personal characteristics throughout the interview.
Uneasy feelings may be a sign something is awry even if the interviewer can’t identify the source. Gut instincts are often a reliable indicator of future success or disappointment. Avoid the temptation of hiring someone because you have a pressing need to fill, even though you have doubts or concerns about how well that person will fit into your team.
Prospective candidates may look for higher wages or more generous benefits than originally specified in the job description. While common requests might include full medical coverage or extra paid time off, softer incentives may be enough to bring on a candidate. Softer incentives for reaching specific practice goals might include gift certificates to local restaurants, spa services, or tickets to sporting events.
Even though it may be tempting to simply grant all their requests, the practice needs to consider how these decisions will impact compensation to existing employees and the overhead burden of the practice. The environment of appreciation can be an important draw for recruiting prospective employees and retaining them.
Meet the Author
Dental Practice Consultant
Karen Burnett, RDH, MA
Aldrich CPAs + Advisors LLP
For Karen Burnett, enthusiasm for dentistry includes over 30 years of experience ranging from dental assisting and dental hygiene to more than 18 years of experience in dental practice coaching. She takes pride in providing results-oriented business solutions, using a tailored approach for the growth of individuals and teams. She is skilled in internal and... Read more Karen Burnett, RDH, MA
- Dental business management
- Hygiene program profitability and analysis
- Treatment presentation and incomplete treatment follow-up
- New patient recruitment and retention
- Practice administration