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6 common hiring mistakes to avoid

Feb. 7, 2023
It's a tight, tough hiring market, and many dentists don't know how to find the candidates. Here are six common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them.
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management

Editor's note: Sally McKenzie was a powerful voice in the dental industry until her passing in 2020. We're sharing this article in the spirit of having her high-quality and insightful work live on and continue inspiring readers. Read more about her legacy in the dental profession from Chris Salierno, DDS.

The thought of hiring new employees sends most dentists into a panic. They want to fill vacant positions as quickly as possible. But instead of developing a system to find the right people to join their team, they hire the first candidate who seems like a good fit, and then hope it all works out.

The problem is, it usually doesn’t. When you rush through the hiring process, you’ll often end up hiring someone who just isn’t qualified for the job, and that will cost your practice thousands of dollars, not to mention waste a lot of your time. Hiring the right team members is key to your practice’s success. Here are six common hiring mistakes most dentists make, and how you can avoid them.

1. You don’t provide a detailed enough job description

Many dentists think putting together job descriptions is a waste of time, but detailed job descriptions are a vital part of the hiring process and will help you find qualified candidates who will excel as a member of your team.

Use job descriptions to outline exactly what you’re looking for, and send them to candidates before bringing them in for an interview.This will give applicants a much clearer picture of what the role entails, including hours, benefits, and necessary skill set, and will enable them to bow out early if they realize the position isn’t a good fit, which saves everyone involved time and frustration.

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Another benefit of job descriptions? They help keep current employees on track and serve as their road map for success. They make your expectations clear and outline how performances will be measured. And that goes a long way in boosting practice productivity and growing your bottom line.

2. Your job listings are too generic

Want to attract the best and brightest people to your practice? Make sure your job listings stand out. Use active words to describe the position, and target your ads to the position you’re hiring. Highlight all the relevant information job applicants need and want to know, such as position status, office location, and hours. Remember to include salary range—50% of prospects skip ads that don’t include salary information.

3. You don’t properly review resumes

When looking at resumes, keep in mind they’re nothing more than a sales pitch. Many applicants exaggerate while some flat-out lie on their resume, making it even more difficult to determine who might be a good fit for the position.

Instead of letting resumes easily impress you, look for red flags. For example, if a resume lists skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments but has no chronological record of employment or job details, you could be dealing with a job hopper. If you notice large gaps in employment history, chances are the applicant isn’t someone you want to welcome to your team.

It’s also a good idea to refer to the job description as you review resumes. This will help you quickly determine if a candidate is a good fit, or if it’s time to move on.

4. You don’t take the time to do phone screenings

Many doctors think they can save time if they skip the phone screening and go straight to the face-to-face interview—but resist that temptation.

You can learn a lot about a candidate during a 20-minute phone call. Use the time to ask any pressing questions you have about employment history, and to find out salary expectations. As you talk, you may learn the candidate simply isn’t willing to work the weekend hours the role requires, or is looking for a much higher salary than you’re prepared to offer.

The phone interview helps you avoid any surprises later in the process, while enabling you to eliminate candidates who aren’t a good fit before you bring them in for a face-to-face interview. That saves you time and money.

5. You don’t ask quality questions

Asking candidates simple yes and no questions won’t tell you much about their experience or character. During the face-to-face interview, ask open-ended questions that give them a chance to provide more detailed responses. Be leery of candidates who answer with vague or general descriptions. Don’t be satisfied when Sarah with the dazzling resume tells you she revamped the practice recall system at her last job. Ask her to describe the recall system and her role in making it a success.

6. You don’t bother with testing

As nice at it would be, you can’t take applicants at their word. Before hiring new team members, have them fill out an application and complete pre-employment testing. I recommend including an assessment test and a personality temperament test. Don’t forget to call references and do a background check for each candidate you plan to hire.

Hiring the right employees can be a difficult task. If you avoid these six common pitfalls, not only will the process be smoother, you’ll hire the right team members who know what it takes to help your practice succeed.

Originally posted in 2015 and updated regularly