Avoid the Top 10 Hiring Mistakes

Whether this is your first hire or you’re a seasoned veteran, hiring will always be more of an art than a science. However, there is a lot you can do to improve the chances that you hire someone likely to be successful in your practice, your culture and on your team. Do your homework to identify the ability, skill and attitude you need in your practice; be most concerned about hiring the willing personality and train the skill if necessary. Make no mistake about it, this is business and it’s personal.

Here’s my top 10 list of what NOT to do:

  1. Do NOT do what everyone else is doing. Don’t let your ad blend in with all the rest of the no-name ads. Whether seasoned or a startup, you are offering a unique and exciting opportunity. Tell a bit of your story, share your dream, include your name and website. You’ll attract someone who wants to help you build that dream.

  2. Do NOT bring everyone in for a personal interview. The recruitment process can quickly start to feel like a full-time job if you’re not giving applicants an opportunity to qualify themselves early on. Throw down a challenge in your ad to have applicants visit your website and send a cover letter sharing how they can be an asset to you in the practice. Only those who pass the challenge and then pass the telephone interview should get invited for an interview. You’ll save time and be fresher and more focused for the best applicants.

  3. Do NOT wing interviews. A Google search can provide you with the top 10 or 20 interview questions you can ask at both the telephone and personal interviews. Your applicants can just as easily do a Google search for the best interview answers and come prepared to ace the interview. They talk the talk, but will they be able to walk the walk? Be prepared to ask questions that flush out the values, traits and qualifications you are seeking.

  4. Do NOT neglect employment law. Know both the state and federal laws that impact your hiring process. Be prepared with a complete job description for the position, a current legal job application and reference release forms. Know what you can legally ask an applicant. Know how best to pay this new hire. Do they qualify as an independent contractor or as an exempt or nonexempt employee?

  5. Do NOT forget that the interview begins when the applicant arrives. Pay close attention to how the applicant greets staff at the front desk, if he or she interacts with folks in the reception area or instead focuses on a cell phone. Take every opportunity to see your applicant when they don’t know you’re looking and are just being who they really are.

  6. Do NOT allow a bias to color the entire interview. You may not prefer body ink, but the reality is that nearly 40 percent of the workforce under the age of 30 has a tattoo. Your applicant may be well qualified and willing to keep a tattoo covered during work hours.

  7. Do NOT do the majority of the talking. As my Dad always told me, you can’t learn anything while your lips are moving. Ask great questions that you have prepared in advance, listen with the intention of understanding the candidate’s answers and then score that applicant on your own scale so you remember how you felt about his or her response. Don’t worry about writing down everything the applicant says; just be sure to score the applicant so you know how you felt about their comments.

  8. Do NOT compare applicants to each other. You don’t want to hire the best of the bunch, but rather the best person for the job. Your intent should be to compare each applicant to the position for which you are hiring. That is why you have prepared a job description and identified the values, traits and qualifications you are seeking. It may take several rounds of interviews, but if you score applicants against the position, the top candidates will rise to the top, as the cream always does.

  9. Do NOT hire anyone without doing your due diligence. No matter how excited you are, do not hire anyone without checking references. Remember, anyone can talk a good game, but past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Scrutinize the candidates’ history. Verify the career timeline. Don’t take the phone numbers from the resume, but Google the names and phone numbers of past employers to speak with them directly for references. It’s also a best practice to do an online hiring assessment to gain insight into your candidates’ behavioral tendencies, emotional intelligence and core competencies.

  10. Do NOT rationalize red flags because you like a particular candidate or because you are tired of being short-handed. The joy of making a hire will quickly fade once you realize you’ve been too hasty and made a mistake. The only thing harder than being short-handed is the first three weeks after you hire since you’ll be training. You and your team will essentially be doing double duty for this time period. Realizing you’ve made a mistake but settling is a recipe for mediocrity. Having to let someone go and start over again is tough and it’s demoralizing. Take your time and hire right the first time.

Ginny Hegarty, SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) is the president of Dental Practice Development, Inc., providing practice management and team development services to dentists since 1997. Visit her website at GinnyHegarty.com.