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The Pros and Cons of Working Interviews in Dentistry

Nina Panugaling
Posted by Nina Panugaling on September 8, 2020

In the dental industry, finding the right employees is key to your financial success, but more importantly, it is vital to the health of your patients. A poor hire in an insurance office may mean a huge paperwork mess that takes weeks to correct. A poor hire in dentistry can lead to tragedy.

Since you cannot afford to make a mistake, many dental practices consider conducting working interviews instead of the traditional interview-only route. While there are benefits to working interviews, such as seeing how a candidate performs under pressure and how patients react to them, there is also the risk for missteps or compliance breaches that you need to take into consideration prior to conducting a working interview.

While HR for Health, an expert in human resources for doctors, does not recommend working interviews on a regular basis, if you are going to conduct a working interview, here are the guidelines to ensure you have both an informative and compliant working interview.

Working Interview Process

A working interview should include an interview portion, but the focus will be on the working element. The working interview may take a few hours or last an entire day - the time frame is up to you. During that period, the candidate will be performing the job, at least in part, that they are interviewing for. The appropriate personnel will be watching and evaluating this process. Ideally, the job candidate will be working with the team they hope to join.

The working interview doesn't mean throwing the candidate into the deep end and hoping they can swim. You will provide support and answer their questions when necessary. It should be a friendly and informative process and not a trial by fire. Remember, to observe the following rules during the interview:

  • Provide a safe and supportive environment.
  • Follow HIPAA rules.
  • Honor legal requirements such as freedom from harassment and discrimination.
  • Have worker's compensation insurance and liability insurance in place.
  • Determine the employee is eligible for employment in the US.
  • Have the job candidate sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Document any licenses or certifications that are needed for the work they are performing in your office, along with I-9 and W-4 documents.

IMPORTANT: You must pay the employee for their time spent in a working interview whether you hire them or not. Failure to do so could result in employment claims for unpaid wages. And remember, the process should allow the candidate to determine if they want to work for your company. The working interview is meant to benefit both parties.

Benefits of the Working Interview

During the working interview, you can assess the candidate's actual skill level instead of simply reading about it or going by their professional recommendations. Some people can talk a good game but reveal their weaknesses after you hire them. A working interview leaves the job candidate with no place to hide.

You can also get a real sense of the person's personality and ability to work with others during an actual work situation. The candidate will be able to do their own assessment of the team and the required duties as well. This warts and all approach benefits everyone involved.

Of course, this method isn't foolproof, but you have a better chance of determining a person's suitability for the position if you watch them work. In addition, you weed out people who do not have the skill set you need. In the dental industry, unskilled employees can be dangerous to patients, so employment risks are certainly higher than in other professions.

Drawbacks of the Working Interview

The working interview does have a few negatives. For one, it takes a longer time to set up and involves more people. Also, the job candidate will not swoop in and do the job as well or as quickly as an experienced employee would. Some will just perform poorly at the assigned tasks. 

You may not want to pay job candidates for their time, but that's the way a working interview must be done. Write them a check even if you may hire them for the position. The recommendation is to issue a check the day of the working interview. It’s perfectly fine to hand it to them at the end of the day, once the interview is complete.

Since the job candidate is actually working at your company on that one day, they may become confused and believe that they already have the job, particularly since they will have to fill out some paperwork. You must make it clear to each interviewee that hiring decisions will be made after the interview process is complete. Finish all your working interviews and then make your decision. Do not hire anyone on the day of the interview to avoid confusion.

Additionally, because the job candidate was actually hired by your practice, they will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.

Your current team may have mixed feelings about these working interviews since their own workday may be disrupted by the process. Remind them that you will all benefit by hiring the right person the first time. HR for Health can also advise you on best practices for this interview type.

Working Interview Pros and Cons

You need to consider the working interview pros and cons, but many agree it is well-suited to the dental industry. While providers must generate revenue to survive, their primary focus is always on patient care. When you make the wrong hiring choices, you may be putting patient health at risk. The wrong hire will, at the very least, negatively impact the patient experience, which can lead them to change providers.

Working interviews take more time and resources but sometimes produce better results for healthcare providers. You can get a real sense of a job candidate's potential when you see them in action. However, you still must weigh the risks vs. the potential rewards in this process. 

HR for Health

Dental practices really need an experienced partner for all their human resource needs. HR for Health is a premier provider of these resources, with years of experience in the industry. At HR for Health, experienced, professional consultants will help you hire and maintain an excellent workforce while offering guidance on best compliance practices and other legal issues.

For more information, contact HR for Health online or call (877) 779-4747. Our expert team stands ready to help.

Schedule an HR Consultation


HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. 


Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services

Topics: HR Tips, how to hire, Hiring, employment, general hr, covid-19

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