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March 2017

Hiring 101: Understand Your Needs Before Interviewing

The thought of going through the hiring process can be stressful for anyone, but understanding your needs at the start will be essential for finding the right candidate.

Hiring isn’t just about finding the right person for your office, it’s also about not hiring the wrong person who causes managers to lose sleep! Bad hiring decision can cost a practice both time and money.

The interview process is your opportunity to get to know your prospective new hires and their opportunity to get to know you and hear about the culture of your office. Having another person in the interview with you will give you another perspective on the answers you are hearing.

Having multiple applicants to interview will help you make the best decision when hiring. It’s exciting to have a candidate that seems perfect in the interview, but in order to stay objective you need multiple candidates to ensure you are choosing the best applicant.

Here are a few other practices that you can follow to help in your hiring process:

  1. Job descriptions.
    The job description should be reviewed every time you are making a new hire for that position. This ensures the job description is still accurate and appropriate for that position and will detail what is expected from this employee.
  2. Social media.
    Advertise your open position in a place where your candidates are already going. If your office has a Facebook page, post your position on your page. You can also use job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn to advertise your positions. These sites are mobile-friendly and the majority of candidates are searching with their smartphones because it’s convenient.
  3. Person fit.
    Dental offices are like an extended family, so making sure that you have the right person fit is important. Although the right skill set may seem like the most important factor in whether a candidate is a good fit for your practice, the truth is that skills can be acquired, but personalities cannot. The interview is the perfect time to get to know the person and decide if they are a good “person fit” for your office.
  4. Asking the right questions.
    There are questions that you can ask to get a better understanding of who a person is and how a person will fit into your office. Asking open ended questions versus “yes” or “no” questions is essential. Your questions should always begin with a “how” or a “what” so the candidate can expand on his/her answer and give you a better understanding of who the applicant is and how they will handle themselves in your office. Knowing the right questions to ask and really listening to their responses will help you chose the best candidate.
  5. Let candidates interview you, too.
    At the end of the interview, give the candidates the opportunity to interview you. This will allow you to see what’s important to them.
  6. Background check.
    The last step in the interviewing process should always include a background and reference check. Taking the time necessary during the interview process can help to ensure that you have selected the best candidate for your office.

Remember, hiring is about finding the best person for the job. Having a clear understanding of what you need in your office before advertising the position will pay dividend throughout the entire hiring process.

Interview Questions: How to Achieve Two-Way Communication

Interviewing allows you to get to know your candidates and determine if the applicants have the right skill sets and are the best fit for your office. To do that, you need to turn them into a two-way conversation.

The easiest way to achieve that goal is to create open-ended questions. These questions begin with “how” or “what” and allow candidates to expand on their answers. Close-ended questions that result in “yes” or “no” answers should be avoided.

For example, instead of “Have you ever had to deal with an angry patient?” ask “How have you handled a situation where the patient was angry?” By asking “how,” you are giving a candidate an opportunity to give you a real-life example of how they’ve used a skill you want in this position.

In addition to asking questions it’s equally important for you to listen to what the candidate is saying. The manner in which someone talks about previous employers, past experiences, and employees can be a good indicator of their character and level of professionalism. If any answer creates a red flag in your mind, follow up with a clarifying question to make sure you understand the response.

Assuming that the applicants that you are interviewing have passed your preliminary screening and they possess the necessary skills and meet the requirements of the job, there are some standard questions that you can ask to make sure you are hiring the right candidate.

Sample Interview Questions

When conducting an interview there are two primary types of questions you should ask: basic and behavioral. Basic questions are general questions that will fit any position in any job. Basic interview questions will start the conversation and let you get to know the candidates. Behavioral interview questions give you an opportunity to explore the behavior of this applicant, how he/she handles situations that may occur in your office, and will help you understand who they are and give a little insight into their character.

Here are some examples of both basic and behavioral questions:

Basic Questions

  • Why do you want to leave your current employer?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Tell me about your short and long term professional goals?
  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What did you like least about your last job?
  • What did you like most about your job?
  • What were the responsibilities of your last position?
  • What do you like in a boss?
  • What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
  • What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Behavioral Questions

  • How have you handled a situation where someone in the office wasn’t pulling their weight?
  • What do you do when a patient is angry about something?
  • If you found out your office was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you do?
  • What's the most difficult decision you've ever had to make?

In addition to the basic and behavioral questions, you should also ask questions that are job-specific. These are questions that are directly related to the essential functions of a specific job.

When you have completed questioning the applicant, consider giving the applicant the opportunity to interview you. The questions they ask you will show you their interest in your office and the position.

Interviewing is a process and one in which candidates are putting on their absolute best impression. If you aren’t impressed with the candidate during the interview don’t go any further. This is the best you are going to get out of this person.

Informed Refusal and How to Handle It

“I just want a cleaning,” says the patient. “No exam, periodontal treatment, or X-rays.”

Whether it’s a longtime patient the staff doesn’t want to make mad, or a patient the doctor doesn’t want to leave the practice, the question remains the same: How do dental professionals handle patients who refuse necessary treatment?

This is called informed refusal, and the doctor must determine how he/ she wants staff to handle the situation if it arises. Options include:

  1. Dismissing the patient from the practice due to noncompliance, meaning, the patient is not consenting to the proposed necessary treatment the doctor is recommending.
  2. Continue treating the patient as usual with the risk of liability. If the doctor continues to see the patient for ONLY the work the patient deems important it could be looked at as supervised neglect.
  3. Continue treating the patient with the use of an Informed Refusal Form. Download a sample form here.

If the choice is to continue seeing the patient, everyone in the practice must understand, agree, and comply. That begins by documenting, documenting, and more documenting! Every time the patient comes into the office and refuses treatment, the following should be documented in the patient’s record:

  • Informed Refusal Form — Have the patient sign an Informed Refusal Form, which states he or she is refusing the recommended treatment outlined by the doctor.
  • Witnesses — Document who was present at the time of refusal.
  • Treatment plan — Make notes of the treatment plan that the doctor discussed.
  • Literature — Take notes on any educational brochures, handouts, or other literature regarding the treatment that were viewed by the patient.
  • Q & A — Record the questions asked and answers given by both parties.
  • Risks — Document the risks that were explained to the patient if recommended treatment is not performed.
  • Reason for refusal — Record the patient’s reason why he/she is refusing treatment. Make sure this is detailed in both the Informed Refusal Form and the patient’s dental record.
  • Consequences — Write down that you discussed the consequences of refusal with the patient.

When facing a treatment refusal situation, having the dentist talk to his/her malpractice carrier is recommended. The carrier may have additional information or guidance for the doctor. While many offices note the patient’s treatment refusal in their chart, this is no longer acceptable and most likely will not hold up in court.

Unfortunately, informed refusal does not end when the patient signs the first Informed Refusal Form. At all future examinations and follow-up visits by the patient, the doctor should update the patient’s diagnosis, inform him/her of their dental status, and have the patient sign a new treatment refusal form. In addition, the doctor should continue documenting the refusal in the patient’s treatment record.

By no means do these steps absolve the doctor’s liability, but documenting the informed refusal certainly helps to mitigate legal action against the dentist. Remember, there is always the risk of legal action no matter how friendly the patient may seem.

Being diligent with an informed refusal helps manage the patient’s expectations. Once a patient fully understands the consequences of not having the treatment done, he/she may reconsider and consent to treatment.

NOTE: Members of the Michigan Dental Association have access to the archive of Dentistry and the Law columns authored by MDA Legal Counsel Dan Schulte, JD. The archive contains topics similar to this article, various sample forms, and more!