Your star employee is hidden among a sea of unfit applicants.
You’ve dreamed of having a larger practice. It may seem as if you have to choose between a successful career and time with your family. But as you seek these life improvements, you might be missing a crucial element that requires focusing outward rather than inward: hiring the right staff.
If you hire a new staff member tomorrow with the potential to become a highly effective and productive team member, you’ll be on your way to achieving some of those goals. The best employees not only take work away from your busy schedule but also positively contribute by generating referrals, selling more products, and in the end adding to your bottom line.
This gives you more free time, which can be allocated for leisure or growing your practice.
It starts with finding the right person, and this often requires casting a wide net. Your success will depend on a strategy that blends patience with efficiency.
Reaching for the star performer
A great majority of the people who come to your office for a job interview will not be employable. Some have estimated that about one in 30 of the
people you interview is employable, and about one in 100 is the superstar who can take your practice to the next level.
You may get lucky and find a great person among the first five or 10 who come through the door, but that is the exception to the rule. Don’t get discouraged if you have to search harder for your next outstanding staff member. Set up your hiring strategy to manage large numbers of people without disrupting the rest of your practice.
One way to accomplish this is to implement ongoing interviews. Interview every week, even if you don’t need to hire someone immediately. You always want to be on the lookout for the highest achiever. When you find that person, you can create a position that will grow your practice. For example, marketing is one area with room to grow, so long as the hire is measurably productive, and assuming that your office can take on the extra patient volume. Hiring a well-trained marketer in an organized practice that can handle eight to 10 new patients (or more) per week will generate a profit.
When your office is fully staffed, use free opportunities on the Internet or distribute flyers around town to keep a steady flow of interviewees. When you have an immediate hiring need, pay for newspaper or classified website ads.
As you interview applicants, keep a file of decent prospects. This folder should contain the résumés of anyone that you thought was potentially hirable at times when you didn’t have an immediate opening. Maybe you hired someone else from that series of interviews or did not have a pressing need to fill that position. This method doesn’t apply to your ideal, rock-star candidates, whom you should find a place for right away.
Here’s another strategy that can work: Hold a group interview at the same time every week. Automate communication with candidates by having a dedicated phone number that goes straight to voicemail. On the recording, state the day and time of the interview. The message should also relay your practice address and driving directions if necessary.
Remind callers not to leave a message since the voicemail box is not checked on a routine basis. Update this message once per week. Tip: Make it a habit to update this message immediately following the interview.
Train your receptionist to hand out employment applications the days you host group interviews. These will be given to prospects as they arrive. Conduct the first part of the interview in a group. Tell everyone your name and that you will be meeting with them briefly.
As soon as you’re ready, begin meeting with each person individually. Bring prospects to a semi-private location but not into a closed room. (Closed environments tend to prolong the interview.) Ideally, take candidates to another open area of the office, even if it’s only a few steps from the main reception area. Stay standing to keep things moving quickly.
Look for three things during this short interview:
- Effective communication: Note the candidate’s voice volume and speech clarity. Are you hearing answers to your questions, or is the person veering off topic? Evaluate the responses, and whether they are appropriate for the setting and consistent with the conversation. A candidate’s failure to answer the question at hand is a tell-tale sign of ineptitude. It may manifest as a long pause following a question or talking around the subject. Prospects with high potential will give accurate and concise answers without delay.
- Presentation: Did the candidate dress appropriately? Take the opportunity to assess how comfortable you feel with the interviewee, and if you could trust him or her to handle important tasks.
- Attitude: Get a feel for the candidate’s demeanor, whether it be cheerful and excited or unenthusiastic.
Of course, there are more things you can look for during an interview, but these three go a long way in the sorting process.
Allow those prospects whom you don’t plan to interview a second time to leave gracefully without the need to call your office about the position. At the end of the short interview, tell the candidate that you are reviewing applications from several people and will only be contacting those who seem to be a good fit.
Indicate a deadline within the next few days, and make clear that if they don’t hear from you by this time, you will not be inviting them to another meeting. This will prevent them from calling your office to find out if they got the job. Thank them for coming to the office, shake hands, and end the conversation quickly but politely. The key to consistent group interviews is not wasting time. Each interview can be one to two minutes once you become skilled at the evaluation process.
For those potentially good candidates, have a short test on hand that you can administer in the office. Depending on the position being filled, include basic skill tests as well as questions that will give you further insight into how someone thinks. You can also purchase standard personnel testing services.
If you approve of the test results, invite the candidate back for a second working interview. In most states, the prospect must be compensated for this opportunity. Check your state employment laws to make sure you are in compliance.
The working interview is short—only one to two hours. Tell your candidates this before they arrive. Schedule working interviews on days when you can observe candidates as they work. You can be doing other things in the office simultaneously, but be available to show them what to do and periodically take note of their abilities.
Appropriate tasks for a working interview include stuffing envelopes and labeling. You can also have candidates perform reactivation phone calls to your inactive files. Brief them first to ensure they do it properly.
Do not have prospects file your records. As simple and mundane as filing may seem to you, accuracy is critical, or you may lose important documentation.
Check for several key indicators during the working interview that will inform your decision:
- Proper execution of the task
- Willingness to take instruction
- Ability to follow directions
- Asking for help when needed
- Pace of work
- Tendency to talk to or distract other workers
If at any point you decide that you will not be hiring someone, end the interview. Say thank you, and provide payment if it is required in your state. If you’re unsure about a hire because you plan to interview additional applicants, then at the conclusion of the working interview, indicate a date by which you will contact the candidate. If you are ready to make a hire, then do so at any time during the process.
The No. 1 hiring mistake made is not interviewing enough candidates. Start forming that long hiring line today. Weed through the masses to find those superstar staff members who will grow your practice.
Eric Huntington, DC, is the president of the chiropractic Business Academy, a chiropractic training and consulting group that assists chiropractors in building stable, profitable practices by teaching time- tested, proven business systems. He can be reached at 888-989-0855 or through chirobizacademy.com.