Podcast: How to Hire

Dr. Kevin Coughlin believes you can offer an incredibly high level of care and service in a very efficient and effective way if you’re willing to invest in the technology, the training, and the team. This episode explores hiring – when, how, and most importantly why looking for the right team fit is key.

How to Hire Dental Employees You Want to Keep

Starting a dental practice can feel daunting, as you try to work your way through a mountain of paperwork and order just the right equipment and furnishings. In an effort to save time and trouble, some dentists rush through the process of hiring office personnel. Yet your people are absolutely vital to the success of your practice, and hiring sub-par employees could be an expensive mistake. Here are some tips for hiring dental employees you will want to keep for the long haul.

Take Your Time

Whether you are starting a new practice or your most experienced hygienist just moved out of state, the pressure is always on whenever a position is open. Still, it is crucial to slow down, conduct a lot of interviews, and think through how different candidates would fit into your practice.

Write a Complete Job Description

Step back and take a critical look at the open position. What technical skills are required? What about soft skills such as communication and compassion? How is the position classified? What are the essential functions that the employee will provide? What are some secondary functions that occasionally need to be performed? The more information you provide, the easier it will be for both you and the candidate to assess that person’s fit.

Advertise the Position

Write a compelling ad that explains not only what the position is, but why your practice is an excellent workplace. Place ads on your website and social media pages, and also reach out to your network. Your patients, staff members, or colleagues might know someone who would be a perfect fit.

Customize the Cover Letter and Interview Process

Ask for a cover letter with each application. This allows you to assess each candidate’s writing and communication skills and get a sense of his or her personality. Ask for a few specifics, such as a short paragraph on why the candidate wants to work for you and what he or she brings to the table.

Develop a list of interview questions in advance, and ask each candidate the same things. Remember to keep it professional, sticking only to topics that affect the workplace and steering clear of such personal matters as hobbies, religion, politics, or family. Focus on the person’s career progression and how the position fits into it. Also consider asking some hypothetical scenario-based questions. Pay close attention not only to the answers candidates give, but also their behavior and body language.

Consider calling back finalists for an hour or two of job shadowing. This allows candidates to get to know your practice and your existing staff, and it allows your existing staff members to act as additional eyes and ears in assessing the candidates. Be careful not to have prospects perform any actual work, though, or you could be on the hook to pay them.

Check References and Validate Credentials

Attach a release form to each application that gives permission for you to check references and credentials. In a dental practice, you can’t afford to hire someone who was fired for negligence or whose professional license was revoked. Though the majority of applicants are truthful, your business could be on the line if something slips through.


Your new staff member is part of a team, so it is essential that your current staff members are comfortable with your hiring decision. It is also vital that you provide full onboarding support to help the new staff member make a successful transition.

Provide essential forms ahead of time to avoid bogging down your new employee in paperwork. Set up a well-defined training schedule that includes time to get to know both the staff and the systems. Clear your own schedule as much as possible to give you time to check in throughout the first days and weeks rather than leaving the new employee feeling stranded. No matter how skilled a new staff member may be, the first few days at a new practice are always stressful, and feeling supported can help your new employee start down the road to success.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact Ascent Dental Solutions today at 413-224-2659 to learn how Dr. Coughlin can help.