6.29.07 - Issue # 277 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

When Employees Leave, Opportunity Knocks
This is the second in a four-part series on hiring and firing in the dental practice.
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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The room finally stopped spinning. The thundering herd that was pounding between your temples eventually took leave. And, at long last, you recognized that this seeming disaster – in the form of a two week’s notice - is actually teaming with opportunity.

Since that fateful day, you’ve followed the steps we covered in Part 1. You’ve carefully assessed your practice needs, updated or created a job description for the position, and advertised effectively. Now you’re ready to consider the candidates. Pay attention to the details and don’t cut corners on the process or you’ll pay dearly. How much? It’s estimated that hiring the wrong person will cost you 1.5 to 5 times their annual salary before the unpleasantness of the experience finally goes away. Take these steps to avoid that.

Read don’t just scan the resumes. Highlight those qualities that match the position’s requirements. Look for longevity in employment. Be careful of those applicants that only note years, such as 1999-2000. Chances are this person was hired in December of ‘99 and fired in January of 2000. Watch for sloppy cover letters. The applicant may have poor attention to detail. Flag resumes with “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe.” The “Yes” candidates are the first to be considered.

Pre-screen applicants on the phone. Address your most pressing concerns up front. If there are gaps in employment history, now is the time to find out why. Ask the applicant what salary range they are expecting. Find out if the applicant has a list of “must haves” for their next employment position. Listen for tone, attitude, and grammar on the phone, particularly if the position requires handling patient calls. Based on their phone demeanor, would this person represent your practice well?

Prepare for the interviews. Conduct interviews using a written set of standard questions for each applicant to compare responses to the same questions. Avoid asking any personal questions during either interview, on the phone or face-to-face. Ask follow-up questions based on the applicant’s responses. Gather facts about the applicant’s experience that can be verified. Take thorough notes during the interview and jot down personal details to keep track of who’s who. The candidate is likely to be on their best behavior in the interview. If they don’t impress you now, it will not get better after they are hired.

Test for the best. Take advantage of Internet testing tools that are now available to dentists. Such testing has been used in the business sector for years to help companies identify the better candidates for specific positions.

The McKenzie Management test, which was developed in cooperation with the Institute for Personality and Aptitude Testing, is a computerized assessment that measures dental practice job applicants against a profile of the “ideal” dental practice employee for each position. For example, you want to hire Jessica as your front desk employee. Her resume looks great, she interviewed well and seems like she’ll be a good fit. However, one of the key responsibilities in this position is collections. What Jessica’s resume doesn’t tell you is that she hates asking people for money. If you hire her, she’s likely to find herself in a position she is not suited for, and you are likely to find yourself wishing you’d known a little more about her before you brought her on board. That’s where applicant testing comes in.

The procedure is simple: Applicants being considered answer a list of questions online. Just minutes later, the dentist receives a statistically reliable report enabling her/him to clearly determine if the candidate under consideration would be a good match for the dental practice position being filled. You can discover up front if candidate Jessica will be comfortable talking to patients about financial arrangements or if Joelle is the right person to manage your schedule.    

Check ‘em out. Once the interview and testing process has enabled you to narrow the selection down to a couple of candidates, check their references and work histories. This step can yield tremendously helpful information and will save you from multiple hiring horrors.

Next week, employee firings need not burn.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

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