“What do you want (or need) to make?” – a FATAL question

dollars manquestion

Part 1

The title of this article is based on a phrase that should never be used during the interview process, yet it is asked almost universally by dental interviewers everywhere!

Although I have been in dentistry my entire career and am not familiar with other industries and how they manage this area of the interview, my guess would be that this is a rare occurrence in other industries.  Why do we in dentistry allow the employee to tell the boss how much they should be paid?

When this question is asked by the interviewer/owner/dentist I always want to ask, ”What are you thinking”? Why are you not prepared to inform the applicant as to what the position “merits” based on the job description, the amount of experience, the professionalism of the job candidate, etc.

Posing questions such as “what did you make in your last position?” or “what do you need (or want)?” seems nonsensical to me.  As the interviewer, do you actually use the response of the job candidate as a “measuring stick” and guide as to how they will be compensated?  We all have our “wants” and “needs”, but what does it have to do with your making a smart business decision for the health of your practice?

What about the applicant that is coming from a long-term job and has rightfully earned a considerable amount based on longevity, contributions, and accomplishments within the practice and expects the same from a practice where they have no history and have proven nothing?

What if you pay a team member that is totally new to your practice more than one of your very competent, loyal people in the same position?  Wouldn’t it seem obvious that this would be construed as a de-motivating slap in the face?  I can’t tell you how many great team members have come to me over the years looking to move for exactly this reason!

How about the applicant that has moved from a high cost of living geographic area to a lower one (or visa-versa?)

First and foremost, when a position becomes available in a dental practice there is more to prepare for than just placing an ad. The big missing link here is the due diligence that MUST be conducted in order to determine what the open position requires in experience, skill sets, and any other qualities that make up the ideal candidates.

Checking with local dental peers as to what their compensation may be could seem like a logical starting point, but this can be comparing apples to oranges depending on your practice type, culture, and needs. And how do you know that the other office isn’t vastly over (or under) paying according to the market?

My next post will walk through the PROPER process for determining correct compensation levels.  I believe it will be an eye-opener for many of you.  Please stay tuned!


3 thoughts on ““What do you want (or need) to make?” – a FATAL question

  1. Deb, thank you for this important advice. Yet another reason why one should turn to an expert in the field when considering bringing on new employees. Your blog posts are so full of valuable information!

  2. I do believe all of the concepts you’ve introduced in your post.
    They are really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are too brief for newbies.
    May you please extend them a bit from next time? Thank you for
    the post.

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