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6.16.06 Issue #223

Prepare for the Perfect Hire

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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As careful as you may believe your hiring practices are, one fabulous applicant today can turn into one disastrous hire tomorrow. It is said that experience is the best teacher, and when it comes to hiring employees, many dentists have plenty of “credits” from the school of hard knocks. So how do you avoid another pummeling? Planning and preparation.

Thrown into a panic when that two weeks notice lands on their desks, doctors often will simply fill the void with the first person they can. They hope she/he is comfortable discussing financial arrangements with patients, or managing a complicated practice schedule, or capable of quickly establishing rapport with others. But they don’t really know. So they cross their fingers, rub their lucky rabbit’s foot, and pray things work out. I have a better idea. Take concrete steps to ensure your next hire is the right fit for your practice.

When you’re ready to fill a position, screen candidates, conduct thorough interviews, carefully check references, and test applicants to determine if they are a good match for you and your team.

First – the reality check. It’s a fact of work life that most people never look better than they do on their resumes. Take a good close look at that resume and do more than just scan the surface.

Know what you are looking for when you review resumes. Use the job description to help you identify specific skills that the applicant must have. Be leery of applicants whose resumes focus on skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments but have no chronological record of employment or detail of the types of jobs they’ve held. Look for longevity in employment. And review cover letters carefully; if the letter is sloppy, it’s likely the applicant is as well. 

Conduct phone interviews to pre-screen applicants and address your most pressing concerns immediately. If there are gaps in employment history, now is the time to learn why. Does the applicant have a list of “must haves” for this job? Listen for tone, attitude, and grammar on the phone, particularly if the position requires handling patient calls.

Check ‘em out. Check references and work histories of those candidates you are still considering. Confirm beginning and ending dates of employment, job title and job duties, supervisory responsibilities, job performance, if the employee would be hired again, the employee’s compliance with office policies, and her/his ability to work and communicate with others. You want qualitative, work-related information on the individual.

Now you are ready for the face-to-face interview. Prepare a checklist that includes standard procedures for each candidate. Conduct interviews using a written set of specific questions for each applicant to compare responses to the same questions. Ask open-ended questions. For example, “Describe how you would handle a patient who arrives late.” Or, “If production drops off what would you do to try to correct the situation?” Ask follow-up questions based on the applicant’s responses.

Take thorough notes during the interview and jot down personal details to keep track of who’s who. Remember, the applicant is likely to be on her/his best behavior in the interview. If she/he doesn’t impress you now it won’t get better after the person is hired.

Now that you have a couple of strong contenders for the position, how do you determine who is the better match? The candidates may appear to have the right skill set, but if one has trouble making decisions or the other is overly controlling that seemingly ideal hire can become a disaster almost overnight. Don’t gamble and don’t guess, instead test the candidates.

McKenzie Management, in cooperation with the Institute for Personality and Aptitude Testing, provides a statistically valid and scientifically based hiring assessment tool for dentists. The computerized assessment measures job applicants against a profile of the “ideal” dental practice employee for each position. The procedure is simple: Applicants answer a list of questions online. Just minutes later, the dentist receives a statistically reliable report enabling them to clearly determine if the candidate under consideration would be a good match for the dental practice position being filled. It’s straightforward and accurate. Now you’re hiring based on real data not gut feelings or good luck.

Use a careful and deliberate hiring strategy and ensure that your team represents your total commitment to excellence.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns?  Email her at

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McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
  July 20 Del Mar, CA - Ortho Symposium * Sally McKenzie  
  July 26 San Diego, CA - San Diego Womens Dental Society Nancy Haller  
  Aug. 2-6 Denver, CO - Academy of General Dentistry * Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 15-17 San Francisco, CA - California Dental Association * Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 21-22 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 29-30 Oviedo, Spain - Clinica Sicilia Sally McKenzie  
  Oct. 7-8 Krakow, Poland - UNO Dental Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 2-3 Santa Barbara - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 8 San Diego, CA - San Diego Womens Dental Society Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 17 Concord, NH - New Hampshire Dental Society Sally McKenzie  
  Dec. 7-8 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
* McKenzie Management will be exhibiting at this location
- Click here for a complete listing of upcoming events -

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A Division of The McKenzie Company, Inc.

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