Oral Health Group
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Now Hiring! 4 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Staff

June 30, 2022
by Dr. Sharda Patel


As a dentist, when you are prepping a dental crown or undertaking a dental filling, you would always follow a diligent process, right? However, the same diligence is usually not followed when you are hiring dental staff for your clinic. This is despite the fact that a bad hire can turn out to be extremely expensive – research pegs the cost at 2.5 times the person’s salary, not accounting for the fact that a bad hire could cost your dental practice its reputation. Here are some of the common hiring mistakes that are made when hiring dental staff for your clinic and ways to avoid them.

#1 Assuming that experience is the same as proficiency

How many appointment ads have you read where the recruiter is looking for a candidate with x years of experience? While experience can be an indicator of expertise, it doesn’t always equal proficiency. Besides, it can be a deterrent for a capable candidate to apply as he or she may not fit the years of experience criterion, but otherwise would be a great fit for the organization. Instead, it is far better to hire for ability and attitude. Everything in your hiring process, therefore, needs to be able to ascertain if the candidate has the right skills to do the job and, also, whether he or she is open to learning new skills and has a growth mindset.

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Ensure, therefore, that you ask some pertinent questions that tell you about the candidate’s skills and ability, and, more importantly, their attitude toward learning and growth. Even before that, ensure that you have a comprehensive job description in place. Rather than the job description being just a list of tasks, it should include your specific expectations as well as what would constitute the metrics of success. Make sure that your job descriptions are updated and relevant. It will help to relook at any old job descriptions to see if there are any gaps or overlaps that need to be corrected.

#2 Not making the interview count

Many times, as a recruiter, you end up doing most of the talking in the interview. While it is important to share your vision and goals, it is equally important to understand that the candidate is well suited for the job. To ensure this, it is imperative that you ask not just generic but specific questions. Consider asking the candidate about specific instances where they had to make a tough decision and how they went through it, or an instance in which they made a patient feel assured during a tooth extraction or other dental operation. Instances such as these will give you a strong insight into the candidate’s functioning.

In interviewing the candidate, do keep in mind that you aren’t necessarily looking for someone who you want to hang out with socially. Making a decision based on how much you personally like them may not be a great indicator of how they will pan out on the job. Figuring out how efficient they are at their job or how they will make the patients feel, will be a far better parameter of success. Depending on the role you are hiring for, you may want to look for people who will initiate new projects or engage at team meetings, and the like.

#3 Interviewing the candidate unilaterally

It is important that you involve your team in the hiring process. Even if you cannot get a team member to interview the candidate, it will work well to brainstorm with the team on the kind of knowledge and skills, as well as the behavioral skills, you are looking for in the new recruit. The team can even help craft interview questions that bring out these qualities. With the team involved in the hiring process, you are likely to benefit from their insights and also get a strong buy-in into the candidate, which will help you in creating a powerful team at your practice. On the other hand, if you were to single-handedly interview the candidate, you could miss out on a whole lot of these advantages and could very often end up making calls based on individual likes and dislikes, which may or may not bode well for the business.

#4 Leaving your decision of hiring to the last moment

Last, but definitely not least, it will be counter-productive to leave your hiring decision to the last minute when you are under so much pressure workwise that you will end up recruiting a candidate who vaguely matches your requirements. It is important to build a pipeline of candidates while you have a full team in place. Getting to know dental teams at local clinics and hospitals will serve you well. Being well-known in your community always goes a long way in your recruitment process. Attending association meetings and participating in or running Facebook groups for dental employees can all go a long way in ensuring that you have a connection with the community. Importantly, the dental community must see you as an employer of choice. This will mean offering an employment environment that they look forward to working in. Well-thought-out employer branding exercises will also help you in this direction.

To sum up

Remember that the only thing that is worse than being understaffed is to have the wrong staff on board. To be able to make the right decision, all you need to do is to ensure:

  • You know the competencies you are looking for
  • Your job descriptions are relevant
  • You make the interview count
  • You do not recruit in haste

Here’s to building a great team and offering the best client experience!


About the Author

Dr. Sharda Patel is a General Dentist at Dental Oasis, Family Dentistry; a graduate of the Tufts University of Dental Medicines. She is a member of some well-known organizations such as the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and the American Dental Education Association. She is thorough, caring, and dedicated to patient satisfaction and comfort. You may find her reading a paperback on weekends.


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