08.28.09 Issue #390 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Would You Make the Right Hire?

Dr. Smith is a dentist in the Midwest. He has a successful practice with a team of six employees – two chairside assistants, two hygienists and two front desk staff. One of his clinical assistants is leaving and he is in search of someone to fill the position. He has four finalists:

  1. Mary works in a nearby office that is being downsized. During the interview she seemed sharp and organized. Although she claimed that she is a team player, she appeared rather independent. Additionally, Dr. Smith and all the employees who met Mary feel she is almost “too serious in a slightly uncomfortable way.” She has 10 years experience.
  1. Elizabeth seems to be in her late 20’s or early 30’s. She went through assistant training a few years ago but hasn’t found a dental assistant job yet. She came off as a little disconnected, but then explained that she had just finished her nursing home night shift with only two hours of sleep. She has a smile that puts one at ease and a very attractive personality. More easy-going than Mary, Elizabeth seems highly motivated to work in dentistry. Her presentation is that of a confident, disciplined individual.
  1. Jennifer also has a very outgoing personality. She seems to be in her early to mid-20’s. She completed an assistant course a couple of years ago but, like Elizabeth, she has not found a job in dentistry to date. Energetic and driven to do what is necessary to learn, her presentation is one of a person willing to adapt.
  1. Susan currently works in a warehouse. She seems to be in her late 30’s to early 40’s. Despite a friendly demeanor she states that she “doesn’t remember a thing” about her assistant training courses a few years ago. She is rather timid but likable.

First off, Susan can be eliminated from the running. During the interview people tend to put their best foot forward but she is already showing a lack of confidence. Plus, she has no experience. So we’re down to three candidates. Who would you hire?

The most prominent factor that differentiates these applicants is job experience. Initially your hiring decision might seem like a “no-brainer.” After all, 10 years of experience suggests that Mary can waltz right into the office and need no training. Be careful. While technical skills and experience are important, soft skills can be just as crucial. How do we know if Mary will be a good fit with the rest of Dr. Smith’s team? Everyone liked Elizabeth and Jennifer much more.

Studies have shown that the interview is one of the most flawed parts of the hiring process. Applicants with good social skills frequently fare better than reserved or shy people. Furthermore, there is tremendous personal bias in the interview – we gravitate to the people we like rather than evaluating based on an individual’s fit for the position.

To strengthen your hiring accuracy, reduce subjectivity as much as possible. Interviews measure social skills, not  job suitability. Individuals who create a positive impression are viewed as more capable than quiet or nervous applicants. Was this the case with Mary?

Dr. Smith used the Employee Assessment Test, McKenzie Management’s Internet personality questionnaire developed exclusively for dentistry. The Employee Assessment Test strictly adheres to legal guidelines for employment testing. It measure 12 essential personality traits so you know how closely your candidate or existing employee matches the profiles of peak performers in the dental industry. You have objective data to help you determine suitability for one of four dental positions.

Elizabeth’s report explained why everyone liked her so much. She is socially bold, dominant and extraverted. When I discussed the test results with Dr. Smith he remembered a comment Elizabeth made about her nursing home job: “No one appreciates how good I am.” Despite her million dollar smile and can-do attitude, the Employee Assessment Test confirms that she is overly confident and believes her way is best. She will be difficult to train and unlikely to be deferential. Not only would Dr. Smith be burdened with teaching her, there are strong indications that she will be high maintenance. 

Jennifer’s personality is a good fit, but she has absolutely no dental office experience.

Contrary to Elizabeth, the test results indicate that Mary is an accommodating person with high self control. She needs to familiarize herself with people before she opens up. That explains why she was so reserved with Dr. Smith and his team. She scored high on conscientiousness, dependability and agreeableness. Combined with 10 years of dental assistant experience, Mary is clearly the #1 choice.

Through the years, I’ve learned that many personnel problems are the result of a job misfit, due to poor hiring practices. When it comes to predicting human behavior, there is no silver bullet. But testing offers insights that interviews, references or work samples simply cannot give. Testing helps you to coach and motivate your employees in the way they each need, ensuring a loyal staff and maximum performance.

Confronting your own hiring processes is time-consuming upfront, but the investment will yield large dividends. Good hires will insure a more successful and productive office, better patient service, and new referrals. With the increasing importance on interpersonal effectiveness for job success, dentists who add pre-employment testing to their hiring process will have a strategic advantage. The pay-off is higher caliber employees who work harder and stay longer, and this ultimately helps your bottom-line!

If you’d like a sample report of McKenzie’s Employee Assessment Test, email Dr. Haller at coach@mckenziemgmt.com.

Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like information about any of her practice-building seminars, contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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