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How do you Evaluate a Dental Employee’s Skills Before Hiring Them?


Interviews are the traditional method for an employer to evaluate candidates for a position. Every organization tries to refine the process to maximize its chances of finding the perfect candidate. However, interviews are limited in certain aspects. Consequently, the ‘working interview’ has become popular in the dental industry.

What Is a Working Interview?

Imagine that you are interviewing a candidate and the process is going quite well. But you know that candidates try to impress employers during the hiring process. The candidate looks fantastic on paper. How can you be sure that they can walk the talk, so to speak? There must be a better way to hire someone, right?

Enter the concept of working interviews. Employers will have the candidate perform common tasks for the position. You’d be able to judge their competence and personality up close. You can watch how they interact with patients, colleagues and other employees. It’s no surprise that working interviews are a popular trend in certain industries.

Try Before You Buy

A working interview gives you the opportunity to observe the prospective candidate at work. You can test their technical proficiency, attitude, and skill set to see if it matches your expectations. In short, the candidate demonstrates their technique instead of talking about it.

Working interviews can minimize the risk of a bad hire. Hiring someone takes time and money. It is disappointing when the new candidate doesn’t integrate with the team, after all the time you spent training them. It is also expensive for your practice. You have to replace the employee and start the hiring process all over again.

Working Interview – Potential Minefield

A working interview sounds like a great idea on paper. In reality, the working interview creates obligations for your practice. From a legal standpoint, any person under your control who performs duties using your equipment is defined as an employee. It doesn’t matter if they work for an hour or 40. Ignoring these responsibilities could land you in trouble with the IRS.

You will be legally responsible for paying the candidate (at least minimum wage), withholding taxes, and the multitude of other responsibilities that comes with an employment contract. You can be held liable for any injuries to the candidate or a patient during the process. Even worse, a candidate can take you to court if you don’t hire them and claim unemployment benefits! An expensive settlement would be the only way out for your clinic.

Optimize the Recruitment Process

Instead of a working interview, work on improving your hiring process. Don’t try to complete interviews under an hour or two. It is an opportunity for you to know more about the candidate and vice versa. A few tips to hire the best candidate for any position:

Don’t Use Yes/No Questions

Avoid questions the candidate can answer with a short yes or no. Don’t ask ‘Have you performed process XYZ before?’ Ask them to describe their first experience with the process instead. Prompt them for details like mistakes they made or how they improved their technique.

Test Their Skills, Theoretically

Instead of asking a candidate to demonstrate techniques in a working interview, invite them to describe the process step-by-step. Or you can illustrate a common problem and ask how they would solve it.

Sooner or later, every employee has to deal with a difficult patient or two. Question them on their previous experience dealing with such clients. You can learn so much more about the candidate without jeopardizing your practice.

Better hiring processes will help your clinic avoid costly mistakes. Over time, you can build a strong team and maintain a stable practice.

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