You may call them “Working Interviews”, but I prefer “Skill Assessments”


How should they work anyway?

You may call them “Working Interviews”, but I prefer “Skill Assessments”

How do they work anyway?

Is this particular segment of the Hiring Process being used properly?  In most cases I would say “probably not”.

For starters, I have personally eliminated the title “Working Interview” from my vocabulary and replaced it with “Skill Assessment”.  I felt that the term was not only misleading, but it’s been known to cause some outright confusion.

Years ago and even currently, the so-called “Working Interview” has been an opportunity for the perspective employer to see the potential new hire thrown right into the action of your practice. You can observe them in the middle of the activity of your day, navigating through their duties and trying to impress you and your team with their ability to either assist you, manage your hygiene patients, or utilize their phone, scheduling, and Customer Service acumen right at the helm of your practice.

The traditional “Working Interview” has always been an important piece of the hiring process in dental practices.  In my opinion, thefashion in which they are conducted have served no true purpose. I even believe that in many cases this “drill” has worked against the practice as well as the job candidate for a number of reasons.

Rarely if ever is direction or information given, or a template presented to follow. What typically occurs on this day is that few if any team members pay attention to the job candidate.  Few watch or have time to offer guidance of any kind. How can someone be evaluated if they are busy opening and closing drawers and cabinets to frantically locate materials? What about the business office candidate not knowing the protocols or systems to utilize when taking a phone call?

My question is: “How is it possible for these focused job seekers to impress you with their talents and abilities when you basically have them show up for the day, offer them no guidance or instructions and expect them to “knock your socks off” with their ability to serve you and your patients in the style you are accustomed to?

It’s their opportunity to get a sense and feel for your practice style and culture so that they might evaluate if it could be a good fit for them too.

Prepare for the Perspective Employee

So for this particular day (or other short period), make certain that you not only have a planned array of jobs for them to accomplish, but also appoint a team member for them to fall back on for questions they might have, or at least be able to check in with someone on occasion to be sure they are handling things appropriately.  Make sure that the tasks you have them accomplish are then checked for accuracy.

Isn’t this Simply a Trial?  I haven’t Hired Them.

And then there is the compensation for this period.   Many dentists and Team Leads ask, “Do I really have to pay them?  They are not hired and they are not really working. Plus we are just having them in for the morning.”  The answer is an absolute YES!!! You MUST pay them for every minute of their time and the minimum compensation would be the minimum wage equivalent for your area.

Of course I always recommend that you pay them more than minimum wage, especially hygienists who are generating a very significant hourly income for the practice.  This protocol is very important to follow based on the fact that the Federal government does NOT look kindly on those employers that do not pay for this time that they were in your office.  Don’t risk it!  Pay them at the end of the day and be sure to include every hour to the minute that they were in your office. Better to be safe than sorry.

Document, document, document!

I have also heard of many situations where the job candidate attempted to apply for unemployment insurance at the end of the trial period after learning they were not officially hired.  Granted this is not something that would ever be approved, nonetheless it is a hassle and inconvenience you shouldn’t have to endure.  And by the way, do you supply them with any documentation to sign and approve to cover this event?  You should. It’s important that they understand the purpose of this period.

Keep in mind that in the eyes of the law and the National Labor Board, if the employee directly or indirectly generates income for you, whether it be a hygienist, an assistant who fabricated the temporary for a patient, or even the front office job candidate who simply handed a pen to a patient, this is all considered “working”, and an hourly wage does need to be provided.

I also suggest that you check with your accountant or financial advisor as to how you handle the payment to the individual.  In some states like California, it is a slippery slope and should be dealt with accordingly.

Follow the guidelines as they are presented, don’t try any short cuts or clever ways to circumvent the law. It really doesn’t pay in the end.