, Mar 12, 2019

Interviewing for a New Associate – Personality vs Skill Set

Hiring an associate is a major commitment. You have put in the long hours and late nights to strengthen the practice, you have verified with a thorough financial review that now is the right time to bring on a new associate, and now you are going to introduce a new face and personality into that well-oiled machine.

Finding the right person for the job never felt more important.

The monumental task of hiring the right associate is challenging and is made more difficult by the fact that you are not only gauging professional skill sets but also (and often more importantly) personality type. You are in search of an associate who strengthens the skills and service offerings of your practice, but you also need the person who meshes well with the office environment and does not disrupt the positive practice outcomes that have brought you here by introducing conflict.

First things first

  • Be sure to check all licenses for disciplinary actions.
  • Will the candidate be relocating? Know the advantages of your area.

Ok, now, let’s focus on the absolutes that you must discover. We find that some practice owners are surprised to find out that those elements have less to do with a candidate’s professional references and more to do with personality type, their communication skills, and desire to work as a team. As you narrow your list to a few good candidates, making a conscious effort to recognize red flags can help keep you from wasting your time and, ultimately, your money. ETS Account Executives have put together our top five red flags to watch out for and address before bringing on a new team member.

Can’t give clear answers to basic questions

Why did you leave your last job? What are you looking for in your next opportunity? These are questions that anyone should be able to answer. It’s fine if an applicant struggles to tell you their greatest weakness, but a candidate should be able to tell you what their monthly production was and why they are in the market for a new job.

Questions you may try:

  • What would the owner/manager of your last practice say about you?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 3 to 5 years?
  • Primary focus is on salary
  • If a candidate cannot see beyond the compensation package and sell themselves on what they can bring to the practice, you may have bigger challenges and disappointments down the road. This could be especially true if they can’t earn the income they expected to earn after they begin working for you.

Questions you may try:

  • What would you bring to our practice to meet your income/production goals?
  • Please rank these in importance. Money, challenge, advancement, people, or security?

“Job hoppers”

Take notice of a candidate with many different jobs in a short period of time or holes in their work experience timeline. Be sure to have the candidate address the resume in whole and don’t be shy about getting clarification wherever you have questions regarding work experience and/or education.

Questions you may try:

  • Can you walk me through your resume? Tell me about each position and why you left and joined each one?
  • Were you let go/terminated or did you resign? Why?

Your staff are not impressed

So many practices could avoid a bad hire by allowing staff and candidates to interact during the interview process. As a practice owner or hiring manager, you should always listen to the opinions and feedback of your staff. There are associate candidates who may act like a different person around staff versus you.

Actions to try:

  • Consider a working interview or a day of shadowing. Not to gauge a candidate’s skill necessarily but to see how candidates handle themselves with patients and staff.
  • Leave candidates alone with staff, then gather your team’s feedback after the candidate is gone.

No references

Every candidate should have references, professional or personal. At times, past practice owners may find references challenging, but doctors don’t have to use other doctors as references. They can use their past staff or even patients.

Ignoring the early warning signs of an associate candidate can lead to bigger issues and complications in the long run. Never hire a doctor without staff buy-in, and always consider the impact of a new hire on your patients.


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