HIRING FOR SUCCESS: Part 1 – Culture is King


Seeking a new job opportunity can be exciting and motivating, yet it can be stressful and frustrating for the rest of the team, especially when the existing culture is disrupted.  By definition, culture is “the values and practices shared by the members of the group.”  Often times, when hiring decisions are made in haste or if the organization and candidate aren’t clear in their expectations of each other it can lead to organizational disaster. Ask me how I know! In today’s business world, culture can make or break a company’s reputation ~ for example, is your practice known for attracting quality talent or does it have a revolving door? ~ and while there are no 100% guarantees that your new hire will be a success, there are ways to ensure that both parties are making the best decisions for their own sakes and are in alignment with shared values.

In this three part article series, I will be sharing ‘best practices’ in three key areas from industry experts and my own experience with successful hiring: (1) culture is king, (2) interviewing for success, and (3) you’re hired, now what? It is important to remember that the hiring process is a two-way street. The organization is interviewing candidates as much as candidates are interviewing the practice for a mutually rewarding relationship. Through careful observation and interaction, both parties can usually arrive at the same conclusion.

As I’ve learned through my certification with Bent Ericksen & Associates, a human resources firm based in Eugene, OR, “recruiting is a process of elimination” rather than trying to find the perfect person.  So, the next time you’re looking to hire a new team member or you are looking for a new opportunity, keep these “culture indicators” in mind to find the best fit for you.

First, pay attention to communication style:  A lot can be said about an organization in the way open positions are promoted and conducted. How was the position announced– through social media, newspaper ad, online job board or word of mouth? What is the preferred method of contact? Is it through email, text, regular mail or phone call? How responsive is the candidate? Does the practice come across as organized or disorganized? By understanding how the organization gathers and interprets information, as well as who is involved, candidates can begin to understand what’s important in the practice culture.  At the same time, employers can begin to assess the candidate’s potential fit within their team.

Case Study #1: I was screening assistant candidates for a periodontal practice in Illinois.  The doctor used a lot of technology in his office and this was emphasized in the job description. To avoid a ton of phone calls to the office, we established a recruiting email that I managed and we promoted the position online as well as tapping into vendor relationships for word of mouth.  Out of 28 online responses, only five had the necessary skill set that was critical to the position.  Next phase was to evaluate the candidates’ attitude and enthusiasm.  I sent another email to set-up phone screening interviews.  Out of the five, three responded within 24 hours, one responded within 72 hours and one didn’t respond until two weeks later because she “totally forgot to check email.” Guess who didn’t qualify for the phone screening phase in a technology-driven practice?

Case Study #2:  I visited a busy orthodontic practice in Georgia and learned their huddle consisted of the lead assistant texting the team the night before with schedule points so when everyone finally arrived in the morning (if you know Atlanta traffic, it’s crazy unpredictable!), it only took a few minutes to answer questions before the first patient appointments. (And yes, they were mindful of HIPAA) Turns out there were a few people that didn’t like being contacted at night and it was a source of frustration among the team. Can you surmise how this affected their culture? What do you think a new team member would need to understand and be comfortable with to join this practice?

Next, understand the screening and application process:  These processes are also indicators of practice culture in how the organization views onboarding a new team member. How many people are involved in the process and what is their role in the practice?  Will the application be forwarded or does the candidate have to come into the office to complete it?  (Hint: ‘best practice’ is to have the candidate come in to complete and sign the application.) Are the next steps in the process clearly stated? If chosen, will the interview include aptitude, behavioral or other testing? Joining a team that has worked together for a while can present some challenges to a newcomer and those practices that make it a team effort to find someone who complements the current dynamic are the most successful.

Join me next time for Part 2 – Interviewing for Success, where I’ll review ideal interview times, the advantages/disadvantages of personal and group interviews, potential questions to ask and be asked, and what to do if you realize this isn’t a good fit during the process.

Robyn Reis

Robyn Reis

Robyn began her dental career in 1998 as a marketing and communications director for a large group practice, and instantly fell in love with the world of dentistry. She has spent every waking moment since learning, growing and collaborating with dentists and their teams utilizing her expertise in all aspects of dental practice management, marketing, communications, HR, continuing education, and laboratory sales. Robyn's personal goals are to make a difference in someone's life every single day and to give the best of herself to those around her. Robyn and her family live and play in Northeast Ohio.