How To Make A Hire

Rigging the hiring game: How to identify, hire, and pay your strongest candidates

July 28, 2014
How dental practices can find the right candidates and hire them.

How much is your new hire worth? What salary offer should you make? How can you make sure you hire someone who is worth what you’ll be paying them?

These are hard questions to answer right off the starting block, especially since your candidates are all working hard to show you their best, most employable traits … and only those traits. Plus, without any guarantee of their follow-through or quality of work, it’s tough to know what compensation offers are reasonable. There are a few simple ways, though, to consistently tip the hiring odds in your favor.

Tip the Odds in Your Favor with These Candidate Types

As dental HR professionals, the CEDR team is constantly asked how to ensure stronger hires, what types of wage offers to make, and which demands to accept. Personally, I have a trick that helps me determine how (or whether) to meet candidates’ pay requirements. I find that no matter what the job opening, the applicants will generally fall into 3 categories:

  • Type 1 - These candidates have some experience, and can probably do a good job, but it’s a best guess as to the final outcome on your team. “Type 1s” are found on places like Craigslist or sites that aggregate job postings and resumes, and are often a result of a passive, luck-of-the-draw search and interview technique.
  • Type 2 - Although smart and very good in the interview, “Type 2s” may not have as much direct experience as you’d like, though their background and general experience checks out well. If you can train them and they have self-efficacy, you will probably get a top performer. We call this “hiring smart and training to the position.” These candidates come from just about everywhere.
  • Type 3 - This type is called a “difference maker.” This applicant is searched for and interviewed with the following in mind: they have knowledge, skills, and abilities that exceed the company’s current skills or knowledge, and are being brought in to raise the overall level of the company and/or a specific area. This can be applied to even a front desk receptionist position!

Finding Type 3s can be tough, and you’ll have to build up your hiring muscle to do it consistently. (For more about what this takes, you can get a free copy of CEDR’s Hiring Guide here.) But if you are able to increase your ratio of Type 2s and 3s, they will often take your business to the next level. Really great job ads will help you attract them: you’ll want to make it clear why this position is the perfect opportunity for the type of employee you’re trying to hire.

What About Salary? It’s Not a Game of Limbo

Paying attention to those Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3 categories not only helps you differentiate applicants, it also helps you determine what offers to make and what salary requirements you should meet. But to snag those Type 2s and 3s, you’ll want to make sure you’re being fair.

Ultimately, the amount you pay a person does not create the level of performance you need (or will get) from the employee. A good wage won’t make a good employee, but that doesn’t mean it works to negotiate all applicants down to a lower pay just in case you chose poorly. And strong Type 2s and 3s don’t tend to play that game – they know what they’re worth, and are willing to walk away from a mediocre offer.

For these applicants, once you’ve done your best to verify their abilities and talents, try to get as close to their reasonable demand as you can. Don’t weed out a great potential employee by missing the opportunity to pay them what they deserve.

One final salary caution: Don’t hire mediocre employees simply because they will take less. If you were originally willing to pay $19/hour for a great employee, a mediocre candidate who will take $14 isn’t as great a deal as it sounds. Whether mediocrity leads to termination or simply to more “blah,” this situation is a net loss for the employer. You’ll save money and strengthen your practice by hiring stronger, even if you have to pay a bit more.

The Getting Acquainted Period: Your Employer Safety Net

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your new hire simply does not work out. That’s why we recommend a “getting acquainted” period to act as your safety net. In fact, a 90-day getting acquainted period should be a part of every dental employee handbook.

Properly implemented, this gives you the flexibility to adjust your employment decision once you’ve seen the employee in action. You’ll bring them on, train them, coach them, assimilate them, but if they are not what you are looking for, or not a good fit after all, cut your losses, and let them go earlier rather than later. This lets both of you reroute your energies sooner, and find a better fit.

There’s no substitute for making stronger hires in the first place and increasing your ratio of Type 2s and 3s. With a few small shifts in your process, you can ease your initial payment negotiations and gradually build the top-notch team you need.

Paul Edwards is the CEO and Co-Founder of CEDR Solutions. Since 2006, CEDR has been the nation’s leading provider of individually customized dental office policy manuals and HR solutions, helping dentists successfully handle employee issues and safely navigate the complex and ever-changing employment law landscape.

For more information or a free employee handbook evaluation, visit

Also by Paul Edwards:

Treading softly around maternity leave

Ultimate management strategies: Building a better team and taking back your time

Terminations and Layoffs: They're NOT tomatoes and tomahtoes