Hiring the Mini Me

We Want You

Is it really possible to find an employee who thinks exactly like you?

In a word, “no.” We all have a lifetime of varied, non-identical experiences that shape us and our thinking processes.  Therefore, the chances of hiring your twin is not something you should count on.

Ideally, you should be looking for someone who is NOT a “mini you” but rather, someone who is somewhat your opposite number.  I have a number of staff in my company who bring a lot of interesting background experience to our table and they think outside my box.

For a denture practice, you DO want a lab tech whose skills are up to your standards clinically speaking, but here again you may only find the diamond in the rough and you will need to train the person UP to your standards.

Finding the ideal candidate requires a number of steps in order to find as close a match to your requirements as possible.

What Do You Need?

If you have no staff at all in your practice, you may want to consider hiring either a Lab Tech with great people skills who can handle reception as well and answer the phone.  In the alternative, you could consider hiring a receptionist who can help in the lab part time.

If you already have at least one staff member, you may need another pair of hands in the future.

Make a thorough job description for the position, i.e. what exact duties do you want this position to cover.

Who Are You Looking For?

You cannot find the ideal employee if you don’t know precisely what you are looking for.  Define your ideal employee by writing down your wish list of characteristics.  For example, consider these points if you are hiring a receptionist:

1.  What experience should they have?  Have they every worked in a denturist or dental office?  Or some other position where they had customer contact of some type?

2.  What skills should they possess?  Good and accurate typist?  Computer software knowledge (ideally, the one you already have)?  Bookkeeping?  Excellent English, French or other language needed by your patient base?

3.  What people skills and personality traits would you like?  Terrific sounding on the phone?  Well groomed and appropriately attired?  Good work habits with initiative and ability to work alone?  Problem solver?  Creative ideas in terms of office procedure, protocols, advertising, etc.?  Good ability to take control of people and situations?

There is your wish list.  Use it to tick the boxes for each candidate you interview and see which ones most closely meet your requirements.  This will help you be more objective in the hiring process.

Place the Ad

Place an ad in the local newspaper or on a website such as the government Jobbank.gc.ca which is free.  Also consider other free websites, namely Craig’s List and Kijiji.  On the free sites, you can have a longer, more detailed ad, whereas in the newspaper ad will cost you per line of ad so you may want to keep it short and sweet.  In the ad, ask the candidates to fax or email their resumes to you.

Screen Those Resumes

While a resume is not the key to hiring an individual, the layout and presentation of it can reveal accuracy and neatness.  The applicant either spent the time themselves to organize and put their resume together or paid someone who knew how to do it properly.  In either case, the individual knows that it is important to have a good presentation.  The resume should be reviewed and gaps in employment history looked for.  These gaps are areas that you want to know about.

By screening resumes, you will narrow down the number of candidates to the ones that are serious contenders.  Do a brief phone interview and listen to how they sound – bright, clear and personable?  If yes, set up a live interview.

The Interview

The actual interview with the candidate should provide you with the greatest amount of information.  This is your opportunity to watch the individual perform under fire.  This is your opportunity to see how they handle themselves, whether they can think on their feet, and whether they have the technical knowledge that the position needs.

(a)  Results Oriented?

The primary point of interest must be whether the person is results oriented.  You want someone who gets an idea, carries out the actions and produces a result.  Ask the candidate to tell you what they have produced (accomplished) in their last job or two.  Individuals who cannot tell you, or who tell you how their production could not be measured, are passed over.  These are the clock watchers and people who feel that they are paid for the time they put in, not for results.  You don’t want these in your practice.

(b)  Get references

Within 10 or 15 minutes you will know whether it is worth continuing with the interview.  Those applicants who have produced results will know and will be very happy to tell you about them.  They will also be able to supply the name of someone who can verify the actual production.  Be wary of those individuals who tell you about all the wonderful products they have produced but who cannot supply the name of anyone to verify it.  Also, stay away from the individual who becomes very defensive about supplying names of people who will verify their production, or who challenge you for asking.  They may not be telling you the whole truth.

(c)  Technically qualified?

If the applicant passes the above, you then want to ensure that they have the technical qualifications needed.  Ask them questions which demand a thorough understanding of the technical aspects of the position.  Ask what they would do in certain situations which require a good technical understanding.  This does not mean that they can actually DO the job but it does indicate that they, at least, have the knowledge.

(d)  People oriented?

If the position is one which requires dealing with patients, give them situations which test their skill, e.g. “What would you do if a patient complained about how high their bill was?”

(e)  Meet your criteria?

Do not waste your time with an applicant who does not meet the above criteria.  Your time is valuable and you do not owe the person a lengthy interview for any reason.  As soon as you see that they are not what you want, politely end off the interview.

(f)  They talk, you listen

Remember to get the applicant to talk while you listen and observe.  This is especially true if the position requires dealing with the public.

Check References

References must be asked for and called, especially those that can verify the production of the candidate.  While general references may or may not provide any useful information, production references will verify the truth of the statements.  In any event, you want to obtain all possible information prior to hiring.  When checking references, ask about weaknesses or you may not be told about them.  You can also ask if the person would hire them again.

Also, when looking for references, ask the individual to supply one for each place where they worked.  A reluctance to provide a reference for a specific place may indicate a situation which you want to know more about.

Trial Work Day(s)

Whenever possible, have the applicant or applicants come in and work in the practice for a day or two or three.  This will provide you with an opportunity to verify how well they perform.  You must remember that your practice and how things are done in it are new to them so they may not perform as well as you want during this short test.  Nevertheless, it provides you with additional information which you can use when making your final decision.

Hire The Best

As objectively as possible, evaluate the candidates and pick the one who matches your wish list as closely as possible.  The basic terms of employment should be put into a letter.

Trial Period

In most provinces, there is a probationary period of three months when you can terminate the employment of newly hired staff without notice or justification in any way and there is no severance pay required either.  If your new staff member does not meet your wish list, do not feel guilty about letting them go.  Move on and get the one you want.  During this probationary period, most employees are on the best behaviour.  So if anything is bothering you now, it may get worse after the three months, and then you are going to have to suffer with your mistake or pay to get out of it.


There is probably no “mini me” for you out there.  What you ARE looking for is someone who brings new skills to your practice that enhance the productivity of the practice and the quality of service to your patients.  Good hunting!

 Call us at 416-466-6217 for a FREE Practice Assessment!


Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to The Art Of Management Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.

Photo credit: Nelosa, thinkstock.com



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