Hiring the best staff for your practice

RecruitmentThe pressure’s on to get recruitment right, says Paul Green.

I wrote about managing difficult staff in a previous article, and this time I’d like to discuss how you can solve ‘attitude’ problems right at the start – by hiring the best people.

It only takes one bad staff member to poison what could otherwise be a highly effective and profitable team, so practice owners have to get it right on the recruitment front.

After making several recruitment blunders over the years, I realised that the process for hiring a great team player is actually quite simple. Here are four top tips you can follow:

1. Hire slow, fire fast

In a rush to fill a vacancy, way too many practice owners make a quick and convenient decision when selecting a candidate. And more often than not that decision comes back to haunt them.

Sharply define what the job is before doing any advertising; duties, responsibilities, essential/desirable skills, experience, precisely where they’ll slot into the company’s hierarchy, expected learning outcomes and results – list it all to give you a decent and accurate job description.

Then carefully compare your applicants’ credentials with your job description. List your priorities so you can see which candidates match the more important aspects of what you require; this will help sort the wheat from the chaff.

The opposite goes for when you need to get rid of someone. If they’re harming your business, you must act swiftly. Enlist the help of an HR professional to ensure you stick to the correct procedures.

2. Hire for attitude and never for skillset alone

You can train someone to improve their skills. You can’t train someone to improve their attitude.

How do you get a feel for their attitude? In the interview, test them with incisive questions and quick hypothetical challenges. Name three tasks you’d like completed in your practice, and ask them in which order they’d deal with them.

Assess how they go about working these options out as much as you do the results they give you. A positive attitude is something that people display under pressure and when asked to act/name choices on instinct. Don’t let your interviewees waffle on and then assume that, because they can talk, they possess a ‘personality’. Give them a thorough test to see how positive they really are.

3. Give your interviews a proper structure

However you choose to conduct your interviews (group exercises with all the candidates in a room together, panel interviews, off-site one-to-ones, a combination of these), keep it consistent and structured. This will allow you to really assess the overall character of each candidate. Don’t slip away from your list of questions because someone seems very easy going and you think early on that this is the one.

A gut feel is a great thing, but keep your discipline and treat each candidate the same. During an interview, it should be you doing 20% of the talking and your interviewee the remaining 80%.

4. Know as much about the person as you can

Once you’ve narrowed your candidates down, learn more about them. On a second or third interview you could change location and go somewhere public. See how your candidate handles being in a service-oriented environment like a coffee shop. If the waitress gets their order wrong, how do they react? Do they open the door for others? Such social cues can give you an idea of their character.

Also, check their social media. Take what you see with a pinch of salt; enjoying nights out shouldn’t flag up warning signs but some things should. Do they moan about their current company? Do they engage in unnecessary arguments? These are clues to how they’ll approach working at your practice and how they’ll gel with your team.       

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