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5 Best Interview Questions to Ask in Your Dental, Optometry, or Veterinary Practice

When you're running any type of healthcare practice, hiring the best individuals is crucial to keeping your business operating as effectively and efficiently as possible.

It all starts with asking the right healthcare and medical interview questions. When hiring any new employee, the stakes are high from a business standpoint. However, in the healthcare industry; whether dental, optometry, veterinary, or other; the stakes are even higher — you’re dealing with people’s health. 

As stated by Stefan Benndorf, Managing Director at Applift, “Entrepreneurs need to change their mindset. Hiring is not a chore or a side job — it is the foundation of their business.” If hiring managers and providers want to find the best healthcare professional for each position, they'll need to refine their interviewing process. If you’re ready to tighten up your interview process, there are several healthcare interview trends and best practices  you'll need to keep in mind.

Entrepreneurs need to change their mindset. Hiring is not a chore or a side job — it is the foundation of their business.

Quality Hires in Healthcare Are More Important Than Ever 

Over the past few years, the healthcare industry has received plenty of attention in terms of employment — mainly due to rapid shifts in business objectives, marketing, data security, finance, and other categories related to patient care. The interview process, however, is just as crucial to the success of a practice.

5 Best Interview Questions to Ask in Your Dental, Optometry, or Veterinary Practice

As stated in Harvard Business Review, only around one-third of U.S. companies report that they monitor whether or not their hiring process actually leads to good employees. The available research shows that employers continually complain about how difficult hiring is, yet they are hiring more than any other time in modern history. 

Hiring appears to be challenging, because hiring managers are filling many openings with candidates from outside, rather than of promoting from within. Also, retention has become tough — this is particularly true within the healthcare system. That is why you cannot afford to waste time hiring the wrong people. There are a few interview tips to help you find the best healthcare providers.

Tip 1: To combat some of the challenges associated with hiring and employee turnover, in addition to interviewing potential candidates from outside of the practice for new positions, you should also consider internal interviews to fill existing positions. For example, is your treatment coordinator also a skilled accountant? Practices can also identify team members that have the potential to take on more and they can train/develop these individuals to be able to work toward that role.

Tip 2: In addition, while hiring, it’s important to focus on a candidate’s innate personality and their natural abilities — not just their resume. Does the candidate handle stress well and show good problem-solving skills? Can the person work in a collaborative manner with team members?

5 Questions to Ask in a Healthcare Interview

When looking for the perfect hire, you’ll likely have a checklist of what it is you’re looking for. While experience, education, and clinical skills are imperative within each specific industry, it’s important to dig a little deeper when it comes to the healthcare management interview questions you ask each candidate.

During the hiring process in your practice, interview questions you'll want to ask include if the candidate will fit in with your culture? Will the candidate provide the teamwork necessary for successful interaction with each co-worker while providing excellent patient care? Do they seem like they can handle stressful situations? Will the candidate report to work on time? These are the types of things you need to keep in the back of your mind during the job interview.

Let’s take a look at five highly profitable questions to ask your candidates during the interview. These are the five best questions you’ll want to ask prospective candidates in your interviews.

1. "Why did you choose [insert dentistry, optometry, or veterinary medicine] as a profession?"

This question is the staple “why” question. By asking this question, you will gain greater insight in terms of who the candidate is, and more importantly, what motivates them. Working in the healthcare industry requires immense passion and dedication, so look for signs of this in the stories they tell. Employees that cannot clearly explain why they chose the field may not be looking for a long-term career within your industry.

Encourage them to explain both their educational and work-related background with examples, as well as their personal journey that led them to where they are today. Depending on the position, although clinical skills are crucial, the candidate should also showcase professional conduct, compassion and good communication skills.

For example, if you’re interviewing a potential physiotherapy candidate, focus on what they have to say in terms of their personal and academic journey, in addition to their relevant work experience and transferable skills. Did they volunteer somewhere unique? Do they have an interesting story to tell in terms of their background, interests, or anything regarding family members? 

Once you have a better idea of who they are and where they come from, in terms of why they chose their profession, you can then ask more situational questions (i.e. What would you say to a doctor to give a reason for the importance of physiotherapy treatment? Or… How would you personally measure your effectiveness as a physiotherapist?) Knowing exactly what questions to ask is often difficult. Check out HR for Health's hiring toolkit to help you navigate the process.

2. "What do you envision for the future of your industry?"

This question is often left up to interpretation, which is very telling. The healthcare industry is rapidly changing, and in today’s workforce, it’s important to build a team of innovative, creative thinkers with great communication skills — regardless if you're in the dental industry, optometry, or veterinary medicine. 

Creative thinkers often make connections that will better your work environment. The key here is to look for signs that the candidate is not only innovative but that they can also adapt to change as well as new technologies. Does the individual seek out career advice and constantly try to improve as medicine and technology change?

For example, as a dentist, you likely often think about where your practice is going in the future, continuously aiming toward a successful future. For that to happen, you need the right team to fuel your vision. Pay attention to how the candidate’s answers align with your vision. If they offer suggestions that you have not yet thought of, they can help you build on your desired future.

3. "How do you remain up-to-date with the latest trends happening in the industry?"

Although relatable to the question above, this question is less philosophical and focuses more on advancing technology and research. This will show you how involved the candidate is within the industry. For some, a job is just a job — and for others, it’s much more than that. 

5 Best Interview Questions to Ask in Your Dental, Optometry, or Veterinary Practice

While knowing everything that’s going on in the dental, optometry, or veterinary industry is certainly not a requirement, this will show you who truly enjoys their job and the field, and as long as you provide a positive work environment, hiring these types of candidates could help you potentially reduce your turnover rate. 

For example, a veterinarian who is very passionate about their career will likely read the latest research related to their area of expertise, be mindful of changes in the industry, and have an understanding of the latest technology. This type of mentality will bring a lot to the workplace, especially in terms of your patients’ experiences.

During the job interview, you may want to inquire about any future certifications or ongoing education the individual is planning on pursuing. Does the person have a desire to continue learning? This includes not only continuing education but learning about new apps and other types of information. These types of questions and answers will guide you during the healthcare recruitment process. HR for Health also has features to track those certifications and CE units, allowing you the ability to save some paper, maintain visibility over ongoing education that is required and receive notifications when certifications and/or licenses are expiring soon.

Note that many practice owners are starting to inquire about prospects’ and employees’ vaccination statuses, and are implementing COVID mandates at their practices. Should you choose to follow suit, be sure to communicate that the practice does engage in the interactive process when it receives an accommodation request to determine if the employee does qualify for that accommodation.

4. "How well do you handle stress? Give me an example of a situation where you performed well under pressure."

Depending on the industry and the position you aim to fill, working in healthcare is one of the most stressful jobs out there. The ability to remain calm is critical, especially while working with those in need of specialized care. By asking them for an example of when they performed well under stress, you can gauge how they applied their emotional intelligence in the past. 

Handling stress is especially critical during the pandemic. Interview questions should include how they juggle time management when taking the necessary precautions a pandemic requires. How did they handle this during their previous job, and what might they do differently in a new job? Try to ask for examples as past behaviors can be good indicators of future behavior. The answers that candidates provide will also be telling in terms of how they likely will interact with colleagues and patients.5 Best Interview Questions to Ask in Your Dental, Optometry, or Veterinary Practice

5. "What is the greatest failure you’ve had in your career, and how did you grow from it?"

Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how they bounce back and what they take away from that mistake that matters. Depending on what the candidate says, you are likely to assess their level of insight, especially in terms of problem-solving. It will be interesting to see how the candidate handles this question during an in-person interview, as they should not pass the blame onto others and focus more on problem-solving the root cause. What employees personally took away from the experience is important

For example, when interviewing for a position within your dental practice, the goal here is to discuss an honest failure to better understand how the candidate handles setbacks when things don’t go as planned — and more importantly, what they took away from it. The failure could relate to a team failure, which is fine, as long as they elaborate on what they learned from the situation and also on how the candidate attempted to resolve the problem. 

Final Note: Interviewing for the Big Picture 

Regardless of the healthcare job you're hiring for and the questions you ask, in addition to your specific needs, it’s important to remain mindful of the long-term potential of each candidate, their level of passion, and ability to put their skill to action. It's also important to know which questions not to ask during the interview process. HR for Health can make sure you know exactly which questions to avoid when interviewing.

Creating the best medical practice possible starts with a precise job description. Studying each cover letter, checking every referral, and then preparing for the job interview are the next steps. Finally, look at example answers to the questions you'll ask to see how each individual you interview compares. Whether you're hiring recent grads or seasoned healthcare professionals, HR for Health can help you navigate the hiring process.


About HR for Health

HR for Health is an all-in-one HR software solution dedicated to helping the dental, optometry, and veterinary industries. Our human resources platform features all the tools practice owners need to manage payroll, timekeeping, and 401(k) with total integration and ease. We offer a variety of software to help guide you through the hiring and termination process, including state-specific online new hire onboarding.

Whether you’re looking for HR support for a small business or you’re a large group dental practice, HR for Health has the solution to fit your practice and budget. We can help you reach your goals while saving time and money. Reach out to an HR for Health account representative to learn more today.

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