MANY eyecare practice management experts tout the idea of “hire personality, train skills.” Considering most optometrists don’t have training in how to interview and assess job applicants, it’s extremely hard to make judgments about candidates when they put their best foot forward during an interview. Therefore, finding and retaining staff members who will be valuable to the practice is critical. The goal is to satisfy patients, exceed their expectations, and get them to return for future visits and refer others. All this has to be accomplished, of course, within a payroll budget.
There are some core problems that underlie why doctors find it hard to choose good candidates for a position. For example, many doctors do not use job descriptions, employment applications, or standard interview questions to screen candidates.
Writing a job description enables the doctor to identify the responsibilities of the position. It should contain a summary of responsibilities, who the employee reports to, and the specific duties to be performed. This may include information about providing coverage for another employee who is out sick or on vacation and being cross-trained for other positions within the office. Once formulated, the job description can be helpful in developing a “help wanted” advertisement as well as writing interview questions.
An employment application should be filled out by all candidates. By providing a summary of qualifications and experience, the application offers an easy way to compare skills and experience of various candidates. In addition, the application essentially requires candidates to attest that all information they provide is true.
Before interviewing candidates, doctors need to prepare specific questions to ask. Open-ended questions that involve scenarios of how they would interact with others (staff members and patients) are important. One goal is to provide insight into how an applicant would handle different real-life situations. It is also advisable that two separate interviews are conducted with the final pool of candidates. A multiple interview process helps eliminate making a rushed decision. Strongly consider having other staff members, such as an office manager or other key staff member, also participate in the interview.
Don’t forget to check references to confirm the candidate’s work history. Speak with at least one former supervisor and get a picture of the individual’s work ethic, performance, and interaction with other employees as well as the public.
If employers can attract and retain superior staff, they position themselves well to provide outstanding service.