, May 27, 2015

Top 11 Interview Questions for Associate Dentists: Asked by Group Practice Team Leaders (Part 1)

Are you the owner of a dental group practice? If so, then you are familiar with the process of interviewing and hiring associate dentists. You know the type of questions to ask, the kind of dentist that will fit into your group and ultimately be successful. You are comfortable throughout this process since you share a similar background and can always fall into a clinical conversation that non-dentists are simply excluded from.

Does your management team interview associate dentists?

For one location large groups or multi-location groups owned by a dentist, often a small group of staff serve as team leaders – these staff play a significant role in managing the practice. Thanks to their dedication and additional effort in helping the group succeed, often a dentist owner would like their input on interviewing associate dentists. However, there are no guides for these team leaders to help them participate effectively in this interview process.

This article series is for dentist owners to share with their team leaders so they can interview associate dentists and provide solid feedback to the owner. Often team leaders represent the most senior staff from each team: hygienists, assistants and administrative team. These staff have stepped up to provide leadership to their respective teams as well as coordinate together regularly to problem-solve matters of scheduling, training and overall operations.

Benefits of team leaders interviewing associate dentist candidates

When it is time for the practice to add a new associate dentist, these team leaders are an amazing resource for interviewing potential candidates. They care deeply about the success of the practice and want to make sure a quality dentist and person is selected to join the group. They know their teams intimately and they know the personalities involved, so they are an excellent judge of whether an associate dentist will mesh with the people. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to have the expert opinion of your assistant (or EFDA) team leader on whether the associate dentist will work successfully with the primary assistant planned to work with him?

Next, team leaders understand how the practice runs from several different perspectives. They can ask intelligent questions of the candidate that you, as the owner dentist, would never consider. Highly practical team leaders want to understand how a new associate dentist will work in the group – and whether they will fit into the existing flow of personalities and style. They know what it takes to run an on-time schedule or to handle the quirky equipment in room – and they have watched other dentists in the group figure out ways to make things work (or not). Having someone with this level of expertise take the time to interview your associate, and then share their findings and opinion, may alert the owner dentist to areas of concern as well as a sense of whether this associate dentist may be a good fit for the group.

Finally, another benefit of having team leaders interview potential associate dentists is to help the candidates truly understand the practice so they can make an informed decision about joining the group. When a team leader hygienist and assistant sit down with an associate dentist candidate to ask a series of pertinent questions, this is a great opportunity for the dentist to learn how the practice really runs – and what they will face day-to-day if they choose to accept this position. Team leaders will be honest about the fact that the practice is not perfect, but they also show their appreciation and respect for the quality of care provided and the role they play in patient care.

This is also an excellent opportunity to judge how an associate dentist handles these team leaders. If a candidate treats these staff members with disdain or simply “blows them off” to focus on the dentists in the room, this may be a red flag for how this dentist will work with the management team. Run successfully, group practices encourage staff leadership – and dentists often appreciate the additional effort a team leader contributes because he/she is the direct beneficiary of a well-run office.

If you are the owner dentist in your group, you may want to save this article series for your team leaders – and keep it on file for the next time you are planning to hire an associate dentist. The purpose of this article is to encourage team leaders to think about their practice and have an opinion about what type of dentist / person will be successful. The key is the fit.

As the team leader, think about each of these 11 interview questions. What do you really want to know about this associate? What have you observed that failed in the past, and what red flags do you think you may have missed? Or, what are the characteristics of the associate dentists that are still working in your group now that you might like to find in your next dentist? Feel free to use these questions as a conversation guide – and if you’re new to interviewing associates, you can even team up together to find out the answers.

We will start next week with our first round of questions!

Jill Nesbitt, MBA is a group practice dental consultant offering free practice management resources and an online dental staff training program . If you are hiring an associate for your group and would like organized systems to support your growth, read her group practice case study .

ETS Dental is a Dental Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States. www.etsdental.com


Hiring Master Tip: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late Hiring

Hiring Master Tip: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Nov 3, 2021

As the largest and most successful dental recruiting firm in the country, we know a thing or two when it comes to growing your practice. In short, we've observed that practice...

Where Are All the Dentists? Hiring

Where Are All the Dentists?

Oct 27, 2021

 The market for dental talent has always been competitive. Several factors have combined to make what was already a tight market even more challenging. These include: Grad...

The One That Got Away Hiring

The One That Got Away

Jun 23, 2021

You thought your staffing issue was solved. You felt you had the right fit, you were confident the job offer was solid, you made the offer, and yet, somehow, they took another...

Are You Ready for What’s Next? Hiring

Are You Ready for What’s Next?

Mar 24, 2021

Everyone is trying to understand what’s coming next in a post-COVID-19 world. While we have no special foresight into the future of the pandemic, we can tell you what we hav...

The Right Questions to Ask When You Meet a Candidate Hiring

The Right Questions to Ask When You Meet a Candidate

Jun 16, 2020

There is a common perception that interviews are about putting the best face forward for both the practice and the potential employee. While it is natural to want to make a go...

Planning Ahead – Hiring for the Future of Your Practice Hiring

Planning Ahead – Hiring for the Future of Your Practice

Apr 22, 2020

With some states in the beginning stages of lifting isolation restrictions and making small, careful steps toward a new normal after the COVID-19 crisis, many of the practice ...

Interview Logistics 101: Putting a Candidate at Ease Hiring

Interview Logistics 101: Putting a Candidate at Ease

Jan 21, 2020

You think you’ve found a candidate who might just be the perfect fit and you’re looking forward to a great interview. However, your candidate could have a flight delay on ...

Ten Great Quotes to Inspire You to Find Your Next Superstar Associate Hiring

Ten Great Quotes to Inspire You to Find Your Next Superstar Associate

Jan 13, 2020

“Hire people who are smarter than you are—whose talents surpass yours—and give them opportunities for growth. It's the smart thing to do and it is a sign of high persona...

New Year. New Hire? Hiring

New Year. New Hire?

Jan 2, 2020

The big ball has dropped. The champagne has popped. The calendar page has turned.  A lot of the planning for 2020 has probably already taken place. Now it’s time to start ...

Playing to Win – How to Seal the Deal with a Potential New Hire Hiring

Playing to Win – How to Seal the Deal with a Potential New Hire

Nov 26, 2019

The rest of the corporate America is dealing with what dental practices have known for years: it's tough to attract and retain top talent. Even when you find a promising candi...