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Killer Interview Questions


For the last few months, we’ve reviewed ways to hire new dental team members. If you’ve been looking without success, you may be tempted to hire anyone who breaths at this point. But hiring in haste can lead to long-lasting regret so I strongly suggest you continue to be discerning about who you invite into your practice.

Following is a list of interview questions that are designed to reveal your candidate’s skills and personality. 

Choose the questions you like the most and transcribe them onto a worksheet leaving space for your notes. These notes will consist of your evaluation of the candidate’s response and ideally also include exact quotes. This will help you later to distinguish between multiple candidates.

The Ideal Interview Process

  1. Sort the resumes into 2-3 piles reflecting your level of interest in the candidates.
  2. Schedule a 20-minute phone/zoom screening interview for the top applicants with you or the office manager.
  3. Invite candidates who pass the screening interview to an in-office interview with you and possibly also with trusted team members. If there are multiple interviewers, assign questions to each person and ensure that no one asks any illegal questions.
  4. Invite candidates who pass the in-office interview to a working interview where they spend a few hours or entire day at your office. Pay the candidate at the salary you would normally offer this position.  Given that this is an employees’ market, it is important that you show you are fair and generous.
  5. During the working interview, invite the candidate to lunch and ascertain if there will be a cultural fit with your practice.
  6. Make a job offer to a candidate and contact the other applicants to let them know the position has been filled. Contacting these candidates is not only polite; it is important for your reputation.

Phone /Zoom Screening Questions

  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • How would you describe the ideal position/practice for you?
  • What were your responsibilities at your last job? What was a typical day like?
  • What did you do at your last job that was in addition to your assigned responsibilities?
  • What do you see as the most important part of your job?
  • What are you hoping to learn or get by coming to our practice?
  • What are your compensation needs/requirements?

In-Person Interview Questions

General Questions

  • How would you describe your philosophy of care with patients?
  • What led you to choose the dental field for your career?
  • What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
  • What motivates you during the day? 
  • What give you stress? How do you deal with that stress?
  • What do you consider your greatest job accomplishment?
  • What is your least favorite aspect of your job?
  • What have you done in the last year to improve your skills or knowledge?

Job Specific Questions

  • How do you determine if a patient needs an x-ray?
  • What have you said to inspire reluctant patients to get x-rays?
  • What was your most challenging procedure/patient?
  • What complaints or negative reviews did you get at your previous office?
  • What was your average production at your previous office? (Hygienist)
  • How do you inspire/motivate patients to value their dental health?
  • What do you see as your role in helping the dentist manage his/her time?

Teamwork Questions

  • How would you describe your role on a team? What do you add?
  • Describe a conflict you had in your last office. What did you ultimately learn from that experience?
  • What kinds of people do you work with the best? The least?
  • What did you volunteer to do at your last job that was outside your job description?
  • How would you describe your participation at team huddles and meetings?
  • How would your former colleagues describe you?

Of course, there are hundreds of questions you can ask and each of the questions I listed can lead to follow-up questions.  You can also ask case-study type questions where you describe an actual situation at your office and you ask the candidate what they would do. These questions allow you to see how the candidate thinks and makes decisions.

Good luck with your process. If you need some direction on how to attract candidates in the first place, download the “Stress-Free Guide to Attracting Dental Employees” located on the home page of my newly revised website.

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

The Stress-Free Guide to Attract World-Class Dental Employees

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