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How to Hire Great Dental Staff: Part II – The Telephone Interview

Posted Mar 19 2012 2:00am

The following is a guest post by Jill Nesbitt of . If you are interested in guest posting for Dental Heroes, please sign up here .

If you missed Part 1 of this series, be sure to check out, “ How to Hire Great Dental Staff: Part I .” If you’ve already read Part I – read on.

So, now you have a stack of resumes and a list of names with phone numbers of people interested in your position – what’s next? The telephone interview.

Using a telephone interview as your first step in the interviewing process has several benefits:

  • You gain a picture of the candidate
  • You determine the candidate’s level of enthusiasm and telephone etiquette
  • You quickly weed out candidates that are not the right fit
  • You save a mountain of time
  • You control the volume of candidates in each stage of the process

To make these calls, use a fixed set of interview questions. When we ask every candidate the same questions, we can compare their answers. The magic is not in the questions themselves, it’s in the conversation – how do you feel this person matches up with the position you have available?

Here are some qualities we look for when hiring (in no particular order):

  • Helper
  • Bright
  • Money not main concern
  • Competent
  • Energetic
  • Sense of mission
  • Realistic
  • Wants a career
  • Listens well
  • Optimistic
  • Team player
  • Values health
  • Good sense of humor
  • Needs to work
  • High self esteem

When you talk with a candidate, use a fresh page of interview questions and put their name at the top. Here are the 5 questions we generally ask:

1. I’d like to begin by giving you an opportunity to tell me a bit about yourself. What would you like me to know about you?

2. Tell me a little about what prompted you to respond to our ad.

3. Tell me about your past work experiences and why you are interested in dentistry.

4. You would be expected to be part of a team. Tell me what experiences and skills you have which would help you fit in with us.

5. What goals do you have for yourself for the next 5 years?

Try to keep these calls to 10-15 minutes. As the candidate is talking you are noting her comments on the page and you are deciding whether to invite her in for the next interview or not. If you’re still not sure by the end of the call, ask “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Occasionally, candidates will ask “How much is the pay?” and our standard response is “The pay varies with your experience. I can tell you that our pay is competitive in our area and that we go into detail on pay, benefits and bonuses with the candidate we offer the position to.”

If you like this candidate, ask “Now that I know a little about you, what questions can I answer for you about us?” This is just common courtesy, plus you may be impressed to find that some of your candidates have already researched your website, liked your Facebook page and are well informed about your practice – this makes you even more excited to meet them in person. Finally, invite them to come in for the onsite interview, I usually call it the ½ hour interview, so they know it’s just a short visit. Ask them to bring a copy of their resume and you’re done!

Now, if you decide that this candidate is not a fit, you want to let this person down with as much dignity as possible. Think how you would feel if you were on the other end of the phone. “Susie, I’ve had 2-3 candidates with experience as a dental assistant and I just have to give them preference. I’ve really enjoyed talking with you and I hope you find just the job you’re looking for.” This is far more honest and straightforward than telling someone that we’ll call you if we’re interested – and letting them wait and wonder.

Don’t string your 1/2 hour interviews out. Try to complete the hiring process within 10 days of the ad appearing online. You may need to set aside 1/2 day or at least a 2 hour interval to do these interviews. By the end of the hiring process, it’s nice to have 2-3 candidates to choose from, since this is just the first step, expect to make 20-30 calls and invite about 6-8 in for ½ hour interviews. Next time we’ll review how to run on onsite ½ hour interview.

Do you have additional tips for the phone interview that have worked for your practice? Please leave them in a comment below.

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