Providing Better Hiring for Dental Practices

By Kenneth Trueman, Director of Marketing for Iscopia Software

Although the success of any organization ultimately depends on its people, the hiring of people is not usually the core competency of an organization. Hiring is, in fact, a source of pain for almost all organizations, but the cost is not borne proportionally. Larger organizations have dedicated HR departments whereas small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), particularly dental practices, often must rely on the dentist or the office manager. In such cases, hiring is one responsibility among many that the dental team must assume, competing for resources and attention with patient care, scheduling, billing, and inventory management.

Dental practices are extremely people-focused, with a high degree of customer interaction at every level of service delivery, thus increasing the importance of getting hiring done right. However, hiring is made difficult by the very nature of the process. Some aspects that compromise its effectiveness are; high applicant volume; the inherent shortcoming of the resume with its broad variations in quality, content, and presentation; dentists or other team members pressed into the role of hiring manager while maintaining other responsibilities; and finally, the lack of a standardized process that precludes informed candidate comparisons while creating the possibility of decision bias (and its ethical and legal implications). Taken together these elements increase the likelihood of making a bad hire.

The costs of a bad hire are particularly nebulous for dental practices. Hard dollar costs—actual expenditures—include the cost of hiring and, where applicable, providing severance to a bad hire; the cost of posting ads to attract new candidates; the cost of ordering candidate tests and background checks anew; and finally the cost of performing on-the-job training all over again. These can easily add up to thousands of dollars. Bad hires also result in intangible or soft dollar costs, including the cost to a practice’s reputation of a poorly performing employee; the impact of such an employee on patient satisfaction; and finally the impact on colleague morale. Whether such soft dollar costs are short-lived or not, additional effort will need to be deployed by the dentist to mitigate and repair their impact.

So if an ineffective hiring process and its costs can readily be described, what are the components of a successful hiring process? The components of a good hiring process include properly documenting the requirements to perform the job effectively beforehand, as well as determining, in advance, the steps that all candidates will follow, from initial application through to phone interview and in-person interview.

However, what makes a hiring process great, and ultimately successful, is the integration of job requirements and hiring steps with data. Capturing each candidate’s experience, knowledge, skills, attitudes, personality traits, and general employability (using tools such as psychometric tests) and converting them into unbiased, objective data that can be presented in a concise, meaningful way allows for informed comparisons to be made and inappropriate candidates to be filtered out early on. It also drives candid discussion when candidates are interviewed in person. And finally, it provides confidence when it comes time to make a formal job offer.

Keeping in mind the previously discussed constraints on a dental team’s time and resources, the implementation of such a successful hiring process would need to be done in a manner that represents no additional effort or, even better, less effort than the status quo. Such an outcome could be achieved by automating the hiring process, including standardizing the collection and conversion of candidate data, using software.

Such a system would offer pre-defined job profiles, with an ability to customize them, and post job openings automatically to job boards as well as the dental practice’s Web site. It would also have the candidates do most of the work early on in the process, entering their details and qualifications and completing in-depth assessments, freeing up members of the dental team for day-to-day responsibilities. That candidate-generated data would then be presented in a concise, meaningful way (such as a dashboard or a table) allowing the ad hoc hiring manager to quickly weed out inappropriate candidates, and focus on those candidates with the most potential. Only then would an in-person interview be required, and job-specific interview guides would be available to support the process. Additional information such as reference checks and background checks could also be farmed out automatically to complete the picture before a final candidate is chosen and a job offer is made.

An automated solution eliminates many hard dollar costs by minimizing the time from job posting to job offer; and reducing or eliminating potential soft dollar costs by limiting disruption to existing day-to-day responsibilities, patient satisfaction, and employee morale, by ensuring that the right candidate was hired the first time around. Such a solution also captures many of the benefits currently enjoyed by placement agencies but not the actual dental practice customers themselves. Various business models for such solutions exist including the ability to pay for use on a per-job opening basis and the ability to subscribe for the ability to hire a given number of positions on an ongoing basis.

The components of a good hiring process include properly documenting the requirements to perform the job effectively beforehand, as well as determining in advance the steps that all candidates will follow, from initial application through to phone interview and in-person interview.

One example of an automated hiring process is the Henry Schein Dental Hiring Solution, developed by Iscopia Software in concert with the Henry Schein Dental group. Leveraging Iscopia Software’s 15+ years of expertise in human resources solutions and consulting, it is a secure Web-based application—no software to install—that enables dental practices to quickly attract, qualify, rank, and hire new employees. The Henry Schein Dental Hiring Solution includes popular dental team member job profiles such as hygienist, treatment coordinator, assistant, dentist and others. Each profile contains a pre-built job description, a job ad template, and a job-specific interview guide. As they apply, candidates are ranked automatically on the basis of quantitative fit between a dental specific’s hiring needs (target qualifications, experience, etc.) with the best candidates highlighted at the top of the list. The most promising candidates can be tested for qualitative fit using the included psychometric tests and interview guides, and further verified using automated online reference checks and optional background screening.

In conclusion, the availability of automated hiring solutions tailored to the realities of small business, and particularly dental practices, has the potential to permanently change the status quo by providing them with the tools and processes and ultimately the data required to make informed hiring decisions. This ensures that they enjoy all of the benefits that come with business growth and success, while minimizing the risk, uncertainty, and disruption that usually come with a decision to hire a new employee.

Kenneth Trueman is Director of Marketing for Iscopia Software. In collaboration with Henry Schein Dental, Iscopia has developed the Henry Schein Dental Hiring Solution, a secure Internet-based solution that enables dental practices to automate their hiring efforts. More information on the Henry Schein Dental Hiring Solution is available at