Hire for attitude, aptitude, and alignment of core values

By James Anderson, DMD, DrBicuspid contributing writer

November 14, 2019 -- It's that time again -- you need to hire another team member. Either you or your office manager must carve out some time to write a job post advertisement.

The many job tasks listed in your job post may represent what you need as far as job skills in an applicant, but does this experience describe what you need most in a team member?

James Anderson, DMD
James Anderson, DMD.

Here are excerpts from three current and different job posts:

  1. Dental front office: "You have dental office experience and solid computer skills. Eaglesoft being a plus. You enjoy challenging, growth-oriented experiences. You don't mind being different."
  2. Dental office manager: "Must be proficient with Dentix Software. Experience with filing PPO insurance claims, scheduling, and maintaining a recare system is highly preferred."
  3. Dental assistant:
    • Basic dental assisting experience
    • Comfortable interacting with patients in the office and on the phone
    • Basic knowledge of Dentrix preferred
    • Able to cross-train for front and back office duties

Let's honestly admit that job posts are often written in haste like a laundry list of "to do's" for the day. Some skills must be in place to "hit the ground running," but that isn't a guarantee that the skills are there the way you want them. You will still need to do some on-the-job training.

Many experts in human resources say it is better to hire people with a positive and upbeat attitude and train them than to engage solely on job aptitude. In dentistry, as in other healthcare settings, patient care must have people who put the patients' needs above their own. These people are calm, friendly, kind, and favorable toward making sure the patient is comfortable and safe.

Attitude and aptitude are vitally important in the perfect fit for hire. The alignment of core values is where dentists don't hit the mark and where job failures are common. During the interview period, take the time to get to know the interpersonal workings of the applicant. Do the applicant's responses resonate with your philosophy?

For instance, ask some questions like the following:

  • Tell me about a time that you went over and above to deliver an outstanding patient experience.
  • Give me an example of how you respond to a demanding patient?
  • Tell me about your last serious misunderstanding with a patient or team member and what you did to resolve it?
  • How would you respond to a team member who wanted to gossip about another team member?

Before you write your ad for a position, take the time to define your practice philosophy and the values that you bring to the community and your practice. Hire people who share your philosophy and your values, or you will not be happy in the long run. Think of behaviors that are important to you in a team member.

It could be that you must have people who are prompt and rarely late for work because you aren't. You may want a dental assistant who is ready on time, organized and doesn't have to leave the room for instruments during a procedure because you are always prepared. You may want an office manager who is aware of what is going on in the clinical area of the practice and not just the business area because you need to know what is happening in the entire business.

Your philosophy is to, one, care for the patient first; two, always show improvement in all that you do; and three, do what is right for the patient and the team. These are the core values that your organization needs to share to work in harmony together.

Hire smarter by hiring for aptitude, attitude, and alignment of core values.

James Anderson, DMD, is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, UT, and is the CEO and founder of eAssist Dental Solutions. He can be reached via email.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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