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Proper recruiting procedures can help dental practices find perfect team members

July 22, 2015
Dental offices need to take some preparatory steps in order to bring in the right team members. Having some human resources guidelines in place will make each hiring process go smoothly and productively.

In my position, I frequently hear a complaint from dentists and office managers about the major stress of staff relations and team member performance. They express frustration with seeing the team and their leadership as a barrier to not achieving goals of patient loyalty, new patient growth, productive hygiene, case acceptance, and a full schedule.

All this can be avoided by focusing on implementing, reviewing, and tweaking the office’s human resources system. A human resources system for a dental practice is not complicated, yet so many don’t have a set process for recruiting the right candidate, creating a job description, selecting the right fit when hiring, contracts, orientation, employee manual, or training plans.

Human resources (HR) is a step-by-step process that can save thousands of dollars and reduce wasted time and energy on a “bad hire,” labor disputes, and legal fees. A system can be duplicated in any size dental practice with the right focus, planning, and energy. An important part of the HR system is ensuring that you attract the right people with efficient recruiting.

Recruiting Step 1
– Create an HR team to define the job and what characteristics candidates should possess. If possible, have more than one person help with recruiting, screening, and interviewing. If only one person makes all the hiring decisions, the result may not serve the entire group.

Select current team members to help identify needs, what the position entails, and what type of person will match the requirements. When staff members contribute to defining and understanding a position, they feel more involved and are more apt to support the new person’s success.

When the selected team members are gathered, ask:
• Why are we hiring for this position?
• What is the greatest value this role provides to team synergy and efficiency?
• What impact does this role have on patients?
• What will be the cost of this position based on market and affordability?
• Who does the new person report to as a supervisor or mentor?
• What is the training that will be required in the first 90 days?
• What instruments, computers, or other equipment will the candidate be using?
• What metrics or measurements will indicate the success of the new position?
• What are the hours of the position? Is it full time or part time?
• What tasks and systems will they need to perform in this role?
• What are the academic achievements, degrees, license required for the role?

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What skills must the candidate possess? What level of education, time management skills, computer and software experience, analytical skills and attention to detail and numbers, and organizational skills.

What strengths are needed for the role? ( by Tom Rath is a great tool to have the candidate complete to match strengths to the role.) What is the emotional management based on feelings? This includes desires, motivation, preferences, attitude, emotions, and values. This guides how a person will interact with others, self-awareness, emotional stability, confidence, self-esteem, and whether the person is a clear communicator.

Tip – If you’re filling a position that has been vacated and it’s possible to do so, ask the departing employee to update the job description. A job description can become quickly outdated.

Recruiting Step 2 – You need a written job description. Job descriptions are important for attracting the right job candidates, helping employees understand their responsibilities, evaluating employees' performance, and much more. The job description is a “snapshot” of the job. It needs to communicate clearly what responsibilities and tasks the job entails and the key qualifications of the job.

Components of a job description include position title, overall summary of role, qualifications required, list of accountabilities, and the core work the person will be responsible for. Keep this simple and summarize the major tasks required so that the job responsibilities are clear. A job description should be treated as a “living document,” not a piece of paper to be left in a file. Be sure to update the job description as your employees’ responsibilities change. For a sample job description, email i[email protected].

Recruiting Step 3 ­– Write an ad. Create an ad that explains the necessary job summary and qualifications. Submit to classified Internet postings, place it on your website, and send it to your external professional networks.

Here is a sample ad: Our progressive family-centered dental practice is growing and we are hiring for a full-time person in the administrative area to join our dental team. The candidate must have experience with customer service or selling services, positive energy, and the ability to adapt to a fast-paced multitasking environment. Proficient computer skills are mandatory. The individual needs to be confident, personable, and outgoing, and must enjoy dealing with patients. Dental office experience is a bonus.

Once the recruiting process is complete, you can begin the screening of candidates, which starts with resumes to prepare for the interview stage.

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Lisa Philp is the Chief Visionary Officer of Transitions Group North America, a full service coaching company for dentistry. She is currently a leader, author, coach, and public speaker. Lisa may be reached at (800) 345-5157, or visit