Keys To Hiring Great Office Staff

Author(s): 
Danielle Chicano, Editorial Associate

In a busy podiatric practice, a lot is riding on finding staff who are the best fit with the doctor, patients and fellow staff. Accordingly, this author gets insights from podiatrists and a practice management consultant on successful hiring techniques, including what to ask and what to avoid in interviews, and recognizing red flags in potential employees.

Finding the best employees for your practice often begins with interviewing the right candidates. The hiring process, although at times lengthy and daunting, is the key to finding an employee who will be a great fit for you and your office. Knowing what type of employee your office needs and knowing how to find that potential employee among a sea of candidates is critical to any successful practice.

   Jenny Sanders, DPM, and Lynn Homisak, PRT, stress the importance of an efficient hiring process not only to find the best candidate but also to avoid the discomfort of having to fire an inadequate employee down the road.

   “If doctors — employers in general — learned to pay more attention to who they hire, they’d worry less about how to fire,” explains Ms. Homisak, the President of SOS Healthcare Management Solutions.

   Dr. Sanders admits that her hiring process is rather “rigorous.” She explains that her office has implemented a step-by-step process for finding and evaluating the best candidates. Taking the extra time and steps to evaluate and hire the right people will save time and money down the road, adds Dr. Sanders, who is in private practice in San Francisco.

   Dr. Sanders’ first step involves conveying what she is looking for in a potential candidate through an online employment advertisement. She notes that this initial step can work as a way to weed out incompatible applicants right away.

   “In the ad, applicants are asked to forward a cover letter and resume and I use this as the first-line screening tool to determine whether or not a candidate can follow instructions,” explains Dr. Sanders. “If a candidate is unable to provide me with what I ask for initially, then it is doubtful they will be able to do so if hired for the position.”

   Then Dr. Sanders will schedule a phone interview for qualified applicants followed by a possible first and second face-to-face interview should they prove to be viable candidates.

The Interview: Getting To Know Your Potential Employee

The interview is important in finding out if the potential hire will fit well in your office and among your current employees, notes Ms. Homisak.

   Ms. Homisak explains that her interview questions help offer insights into the candidate’s personality and help determine if he or she is a “good cultural fit” for her office. She hopes to establish if the candidate has goals that will contribute to the practice and if he or she gets along with current staff members. An interviewee’s responses and how he or she conducts him- or herself in the interview can help highlight certain desirable or undesirable character traits, notes Ms. Homisak.

   A good attitude is the most important trait that Patrick DeHeer, DPM, FACFAS, looks for in a potential employee. He notes that he “specifically looks for someone who understands customer service and cooperation.” One should avoid traits such as inflexibility, unwillingness to learn and lack of customer service expertise, explains Dr. DeHeer, who is in private practice in Indianapolis.

   Bruce Werber, DPM, FACFAS, adds sloppiness and poor communication skills to the list of unfavorable qualities. He looks for honesty, reliability, an empathetic personality and detail-oriented applicants. These are important values to keep in mind when interviewing a candidate, explains Dr. Werber, who is in private practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

   In addition to the formal interview process, Ms. Homsiak recommends evaluating candidates “when they are out of the spotlight” in an informal setting. In most cases, candidates try to hide any unfavorable qualities and arrive at the interview prepared to give all of the right answers, explains Ms. Homisak.

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