Assess Before You Address


Evaluating a good hire begins well before you even meet them

We all know the importance of “paying attention” and how valuable this can be in many situations. To me, one of the most critical factors are the various “signs” that show up early in the hiring process. Recognizing them and better understanding how these red flags convert into good or not so good hiring decisions is something I want to share with you.

For the past 5 years or so I have been placing team members remotely across the country, and although in the past I have interviewed thousands of job seekers, utilizing this remote process has made me realize that much of what I was able to capture when I conducted my face to face interviews can be lost with this virtual process.

Even though online video conferencing is an option, it’s really a different dynamic. I knew I had to develop some additional systems to garner pertinent information about the candidates working long distance. What I came up with were “drills”. These would hopefully give me some good insight into their ability to follow directions, prove to me that they were pro-active, sincere, and were more interested in a career than just a job.

Little did I know how effective this approach would turn out to be as I have successfully assisted my clients and their teams in locating great employees for their practices nationwide. What occurred to me was that a large component of the interview process has been missing. There is value in what can be learned even before the actual face to face interview occurs.

I’d like to share what I have implemented, how it is executed, and the valuable information this format delivers. When my practice-specific ads are created, I intentionally omit some information and details such as salary, benefits, perks, etc. What this accomplishes is to filter out those that are simply searching for those things. My goal is to locate candidates that understand that although salary is no doubt important, it is far more important to enjoy what you are doing in a place where you want to be for the greater part of your day.

Once I receive a response to one of my ads I immediately begin the evaluation process as follows:

  • Do they respond with a cover letter that actually “speaks” to my ad? Or do they include a generic cover letter that has been used over and over again?
  • Does their resume appear to be well formatted, neat and with no typos?
  • Do they reference salary “requirements” in their resume or is no mention made of it?
  • Does their resume reflect many different positions in a short period of time? Are you seeing longevity with past positions? NOTE: I will add that in some cases there are some very legitimate reasons for “movement” on a resume.

I then send those candidates that have passed the screening thus far a welcome letter. In it I have them check me out for credibility and legitimacy giving them my website address, blog site, and I attach my Timeline/Bio.   The purpose is twofold. One is for them to have the ability to confirm that I am not a scammer, but more so for me to see how proactive they are and if they follow directions.

What I have observed is interesting. Some take the time to investigate thoroughly and know almost more about me than I do myself, and others will just say “no problem Deb, I can just tell that you are OK and that you are the real deal”. This is NOT the answer I want to hear, and they “fail” this segment of my drills.

Now within the body of my letter, I am very specific as to how this process works. They pay me nothing, my clients cover my fee, they are also to offer me some day and time options when we can have an hour phone conversation. In response, some just say call me tomorrow at 1:00, or they will immediately call me after looking up my phone number, in which case I actually commend them. This is a proactive step that is appreciated.

During the phone conversation I listen closely for mention of salary. In my letter to them, I clearly explain that I will go over the dynamics of the position and share everything I can with them during our hour phone interview. Some don’t wait for me to tell them anything about the position before they ask about salary, perks, vacation, etc. This can almost eliminate them from consideration.


If they “pass” this part, we then advance to taking my SELF Profile, the behavioral assessment I created and give to all of the job applicants. I verbally give them the directions over the phone, but also tell them that I will be mailing them directions as soon as we get off the phone. Not only is the assessment easy to administer and understand, but typically takes less than 5 minutes to complete. I then ask them “when do you comfortably feel you can complete this profile”? Some reply “within the hour”, and they comply. Others will tell me the same and not get it done before the next few days. I let them know that I don’t want them to overextend themselves, but to keep their commitment. There are some applicants that just can’t follow the directions, which are very simple at only 10 questions. Struggling with the assessment can be very revealing.


So you can see all that has been accomplished in reviewing them prior to ever conducting a face to face interview. The amount of information I gather is enough for me to comfortably recommend to my client that they should or should not move through the remainder of the interview process.

What is it that you can do prior to the face to face interview?

  1. Create a tracking sheet for your team to utilize once your ad is posted and you are ready to gather possible job candidates.
  2. Track the following:
  • Did the resume appear to represent someone that has the skill sets and background to be considered for your position?
  • Were there some creative questions asked at this first phone call? Where the questions those that seemed to take some thought?
  • Typos–were they very minimal and acceptable to you?
  • Do they ask about salary during their inquiry call based on the ad that was posted?
  • Do they question something that was already stated within the ad such as days and hours of operation?
  • Do they seem confused and not know exactly what your particular ad was? Are you seeing a lack of organizational skills

3.  Have some thought provoking questions to ask when they call in response to the ad such as:

  • What was it about the ad that prompted you to respond?
  • What is it about your position that you enjoy most?
  • What is it about your position that you least enjoy?

How valuable is all of this information once you know to listen for it and track it?

The Hatfields and McCoys

getalong shouting

Resolving feuds between the front and back office

Anyone who has worked in the field of dentistry for any given time has got to agree that it is not unusual for the clinical team and the administrative team in a dental practice to occasionally (if not often) lock horns. Why is this so common, and are there ways to remedy this?

Even in practices with the most harmonious team, there are often conflicts stemming from issues such as having a dental assistant say, “How did the scheduler at the front desk ever think we could accommodate that emergency patient at that time slot”?   Or a hygienist might ask, ”Why would the Hygiene Coordinator ever think I was capable of seeing two back-to-back quad scale patients”?

Sound familiar? And have you ever heard someone from the administrative team comment, “The back office has no idea how tough our job is up here!”, or someone on the clinical team comments, “Boy, does the front desk have any idea how hard we work back here”?

There are ways to help correct this conflict, and it really isn’t difficult to orchestrate. The reason this dialog exists is that, just like we do with our patients, we need to fully educate each other so that it makes it clearer for both sides to respect and understand what it is that each department is responsible for when it comes to running a successful dental practice.

Every employee thinks they are important in the operation for their practice, and the truth is they are! You ALL are critical to the success and growth of your practice and you ALL have an important place in keeping the business running smoothly and successfully.

There are a number of things that can be accomplished to help resolve these occasional “flare ups”.

  • Make sure that you arrange to have a team meeting where each department lists their duties and exchanges them with each other. There will be a new respect for what each other is responsible for.
  • During stressful busy moments it is common for the entire team to feel the tension and equally common to feel the need to put the blame somewhere. But why throw slings and arrows at each other? Think twice before you act! Besides, patients pick up this negative energy right away.
  • List ALL the duties and responsibilities of YOUR job so that you can each cross-educate and even cross-train when appropriate; a wonderful way to appreciate each other!
  • Recognize that EVERY position in a practice has value, and is important to the success of the practice.
  • Revise the communication style you have with your teammates. Perhaps you should add more to your morning huddle where you can determine early on as to where the front desk should place patients to better coordinate with the clinical team to enable them to better understand the most efficient way to schedule for that day. And back office, make sure you are careful when you dismiss your patients and walk them up to the front desk. “Handing over” the patient to someone in the administrative team and not just leaving them will really make a huge difference for the front desk and their ability to stay on top of their responsibilities.

So it’s the old story of “one hand washes the other”, and what a difference this approach will make!