HIRING FOR SUCCESS: Part 2 – Interviewing


In Part 1 of this series, I reviewed the importance of practice culture to both employers and candidates looking to make career changes.  In Part 2, I will dive into Interviewing.

First, the disclaimer ~ I share this information from my own personal experience, research I’ve done and resources I’ve explored.  This is not meant as an exhaustive list, but rather a spark to ignite further conversation and discussion with trusted advisors.

Having a solid hiring plan in place can achieve two things: (a) it helps identify and attract the right kind of team members and makes onboarding easier for everyone, and (b) it decreases the stress and turnover costs most practices experience without a plan.  The by-product, of course, is a higher functioning team and job satisfaction that results in exceptional patient service.

Before promoting an open position, practices should have clearly defined job descriptions. In addition, there are assessment tools that identify ‘success factors’ such as desired behaviors and characteristics that have been proven to be successful in a particular position.  Research shows these tools can increase placement success by 75%.  A word of caution: these tools are meant to be used as part of an overall process, not the only factor for hiring.  Decide if your practice will use additional tools beyond the traditional screening and interviewing process and then do your homework. Keep in mind not all tools meet validation criteria.  Bent Ericksen & Associates offers the Drake P3 Predictive Performance Profiling, an online, web-based assessment which meets validation criteria.  Other popular screening tools:

Telephone Screenings are the first step in the elimination process and for employers, these calls should fall under 5 minutes.  Ask a few questions, get clarity on any particular resume specifics and listen to their phone voice.  Candidates, be prepared to make a great phone impression! Be clear, concise and professional. The goal is to have the potential employer think “I want to meet this person” in less than 5 minutes.

Once the pool of potential candidates is identified, invite each person to come into the practice to complete an employment application.  This accomplishes several things:

(1) It allows both parties to assess each other’s ‘presentation’, i.e. work environment and interaction with team, and

(2) For compliance purposes, employers want candidates to complete the application in person to sign it and verify accuracy.

The next step, for those people that qualify, is to arrange interviews.  There are two camps on how to conduct these, individual and group interviews.  A practice has to determine what is most appropriate for the position(s) it is interviewing for.  

Individual interviews are most common and typically include candidates meeting one-on-one with team members and the doctor. HR experts recommend having a candidate come in for at least two rounds of interviews with different people before making a decision.  The advantages to this style include gaining the most accurate information face-to-face, capturing verbal and non-verbal clues, and most candidates are accustomed to this process.  The disadvantages are that these are time-consuming for both parties, and require individual interviewer documentation at each stage of the process.

Group interviews are more common with larger practices or when there are multiple positions available at once.  As the term indicates, a group of candidates are interviewed together by several practice representatives such as managers, HR personnel, doctors and team members.  The advantages to this style of interviewing can save time, money and decision-making for the practice.  The employer typically makes a presentation, engages candidates in some type of problem-solving exercise and ends with a question/answer session.  In this style, employers are observing candidates’  behavior and interaction with each other, leadership skills, and team dynamics, just to name a few.  The disadvantages to this style include not having one-on-one time, shy personalities can get lost in the crowd, and candidates don’t get personal feedback.

When it comes to individual interviews and if given the choice, candidates should ideally arrange for an interview in the early morning, end of day or lunch time hours. Why? Because it’s another way to assess company culture and expectations. For example, if it’s during lunchtime and people are eating at their desks, it could be an indicator of company expectations to work through lunch. No matter what time your interview is, pay attention to environmental clues to inquire further about the company’s culture.

And what happens if, during the interview process, either you or the practice determines this is not a good fit?  You may be inclined to end the interview mid-way to avoid wasting anyone’s time, however, most career experts advise against this.  According to a Forbes article by staff contributor Jacquelyn Smith, Five O’Clock Club career and executive coach Anita Attridge states an important aspect of the interview process is building relationships.  It may not be a good fit now, but perhaps another opportunity will be in the future and candidates never want to burn a bridge with a potential employer.  It’s also important to ask questions to verify that the reasons a candidate thinks it would not be a good fit are actually valid; in some cases, what was perceived as an obstacle can be overcome.  For employers and candidates alike, it’s best to allow the interview to end naturally.  If a candidate does voice his/her decision about the mismatch before leaving, be sure to stay positive, don’t apologize and agree with each other that finding the right fit can be a challenge.  If appropriate, candidates can offer to connect the employer with others in their professional network that may be a better fit.

Join me next time for – Part 3, You’re Hired, Now What? where I’ll review steps for onboarding new hire success for both employers and employees.  Just as interviewing is a two-way street, so is joining a new team.

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.