dentist hiringIn my last two articles, we discussed how to end the employment relationship. Terminating an employee can be a rather dark topic to talk about, so in this article we will discuss hiring cycles. Although this topic is more exciting than the previous ones, hiring an employee can produce just as much anxiety in your practice.

In the past when I have spoken with dentists and asked them about their hiring processes, I tend to hear some variation of I know what I am looking for when I see it. I want to start off by saying you are probably right.

In the book "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell, he explores the idea of thin slicing or the ability of experts to make very good decisions with little information. In many ways, Gladwell validates the idea of trusting your gut. When it comes to making a hiring decision, it is important to trust your instincts especially if you have been in practice for a good amount of time. Make sure to listen to that little voice in the back of your head – but only after you have put safeguards into the process to ensure that you are not falling into the traps that can lead instinct astray.

How does instinct go wrong?

In a hiring situation one of the most common traps that people fall into is the halo/horn effect. These effects are a series of unconscious judgments you make based upon perceived facts that have little to do with the actual information the candidate is presenting. The candidate will essentially appear to be better or worse based upon external factors that you may not realize are affecting your judgment.

Examples include:

  • You have a series of five interviews scheduled in a day. You have one great candidate, then three bad ones followed by a mediocre candidate. Most hiring managers will rate that mediocre candidate as higher due to the three relatively poor candidates preceding them which could muddy the decision of which candidate to hire.

  • The effect of physical attractiveness. We tend to unconsciously rank attractive people as more competent and smarter than their less attractive counterparts. This has the biggest effect for heterosexuals rating members of the opposite sex. Essentially, the pretty people get a halo.

  • Finally outside influences such as hunger, lack of sleep or stress levels can greatly affect perception of a candidate.

So what do you do?

In later articles we will go more in depth on specific techniques that you can use to help mitigate some of the human error. The first thing you can do is to control the environment and schedule of interviewing; block out specific time in your schedule to interview individuals. Simply avoiding scheduling interviews around complex cases or difficult patients when you are mentally taxed will go a long way to making better hiring decisions. One idea would be to schedule all your in-person interviews on Friday when the most practices are closed.

Adam McWethy, MA-HRIR, SPHR, is the Human Resources Manager for Spear Education.
Adam McWethy, MA-HRIR, SPHR, is Human Resources Manager for Spear Education. - See more at: