Dental Staffing

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring for Your Dental Practice

By: Jeff Henderson

Hiring Mistake #1: Hiring too fast.

You've heard "hire slow and fire fast," right? Well, too many managers hire fast and fire slow.

If you're like most managers, you wait until there is a hole in the team before engaging in the hiring process, usually because an employee has left or is leaving soon. Of course, sometimes you can't foresee these things.

The problem is... when you're eager to fill a vacancy, you are tempted to lower your standards and settle for someone that is less than the best. This is a TRAP you must avoid at all costs!

Three important tips...

  1. ALWAYS stay in the hiring process. Not interviewing of course... but collecting resumes, networking a bit, keeping your eyes out for good people, having something general on your website about opportunities, etc. That way, when you have a need... you're down the road a bit and don't have to make a risky, impulsive decision.
  2. Don't sell your candidates for the position, just because you have an urgent need. I evaluate candidates every day and I can tell you, 60% or more don't know what to do with themselves (yes, I can measure this). Make them chase you. Give them the REALITIES of the job, then send them away to think about it. See what they do.
  3. Resist the urge to make a quick decision. Rather than lower your standards with a quick decision... ask your team to sacrifice a bit more by picking up the slack while you patiently find the right person. They'll understand because they have a vested interest in who you invite onto the team.

Hiring Mistake #2: Hiring on Gut Feelings

Managers often rationalize… ”I had a gut feeling that I should hire this person.” I call that guessing! Appearances can be deceiving and eight times out of ten you will be disappointed.

I believe in the value of using your gut instincts (intuition), just not as your main reason for a hiring decision.

A simple rule when using your “gut” feelings:

If your gut is telling you NOT to hire someone… you should trust that. If your gut is telling you, you should hire someone, that’s when you should slow down and continue to take a deeper look.

Remember to always stay as objective as you can in the hiring and interview process. It’s too easy to get fooled.

Hiring Mistake #3: Hiring Based on Impeccable References

Here’s my question: how many candidates aren’t smart enough to provide references that will ensure a glowing review? I’m sure you get the point 😉

There are three reasons you should limit how much weight you put into your candidate’s references.

First, employers are reluctant to share negative information about a former employee. Why? They’re trying to avoid potential legal problems, mainly defamation and discrimination. You should be cautious as well.

For more information on this, I share a great resource below.

They may share some of the “good,” but they are likely to avoid sharing any of the “bad.” If they have a no-reference  policy, they will only share basic information, which doesn’t help you.

Even if the employer was terminated, you are likely not going to hear about it; even if you do hear about it, you probably won’t be told why.

Second, many employers didn’t pay attention to how their former employee really performed.

Think about your own practice: as long as people show up, do their job, and you don’t notice anything serious, you assume people are performing well. A closer look might reveal some cracks.

We’ve all heard stories of serious employee issues that went on for years unnoticed; even insignificant things add up, too!

Third, did you know you can BUY references… Yes!

Career Excuse is a professional reference provider that will create fake job references. They provide a live operator acting as a supervisor’s assistant for only $100! Check it out, it’s shocking!

In conclusion, reference checks are important, but don’t take them to the bank. It’s hard to get the unbiased truth.

Three final tips:

  1. I love the idea of  “ranking” questions around certain skill sets, as well as behavior and performance. This allows the reference to communicate areas of weakness without being explicit about any negative information.
  2. I also encourage you to speak to a second person in the company if possible, like a co-worker.
  3. Lastly, ask to speak to a former employee of the company; someone who worked with your candidate. Technically this is a personal reference, but you stand a good chance of getting more information.

Hiring Mistake #4: Hiring Based on an Impressive Resume

Reviewing resumes is one of the necessary steps you will take as a hiring manager. Obviously, it’s important that you protect valuable time by quickly separating the “fits” from the “non-fits.”

While this initial process is necessary, it’s important you avoid the temptation to be overly impressed by a stellar resume.

For starters, research done by The Society for Human Resource Managers has found roughly 53% of resumes contain false information. The most common lies being length of stay at a previous job, salary, and education.

Candidates know what you’re looking for, so they’re tempted to falsify the truth in those areas. Never take an impressive resume at face value. Give candidates the benefit of the doubt, but always do the work to verify.

Remember a great resume does not equal a superior performance. Past experience, a good education, and the right skillset are all good indicators, but not the full story.


According to Harvard Business Review, your candidate’s talents, attitude, biases, belief system, judgement and other “soft skills” are the most important indicators of future performance. It’s the risks I can quickly measure for my clients.

In summary: stay skeptical and objective, verifying what you can.