Best Practice Management
A Hiring Checklist

When the time comes to hire another (or a new) employee, your intent should always be to hire for keeps for a number of reasons.

  • One, frequent staff turnover is not very reassuring to your patients. “Why is there a new staff person every time I come to this office? Is this doctor impossible to work for?”
  • Two, it can literally turn the proficiency of the office upside down. Did you know that it takes approximately 12-18 months to get a new hire up to the same level as a productive staff member who leaves your employ?
  • Three, it is costly! Each time you go through the hiring process, you undoubtedly face both an emotional and financial beating (via stress on doctors and existing staff due to lost time and work, recruiting/advertising, screening, interviewing, paperwork, training, correcting mistakes, etc.) Rule of thumb: Count on the cost of rehiring to be approximately 16-20% of the employee’s starting annual salary. Ouch!

Hiring does not have to be a difficult endeavor if you follow the same protocol each time. Here is a hiring check list to help you do just that. Let it serve as a start-up guideline.


Prepare a written job description for the position you want to fill in advance so that you can clearly outline to your applicant what his/her responsibilities and tasks will be upon taking this job.
Attach a starting salary to your job description, including benefits, wage increase opportunities and salary caps, if applicable.
Request a cover letter from your applicant so you can review these ahead of their interview. This letter gives you a peek into their enthusiasm, tone, communication abilities and sentence structure.
Request a resume. This will allow you to look for red flags (gaps of unemployment in work history, number of jobs they’ve had, lack of attention to detail, eg, spelling and grammatical mistakes, etc)

Do Your Homework

Check their references; letters of recommendation. While calling their references will only give you limited information, it is interesting to hear how previous employers for example, respond to your questions. Sometimes it’s not what they say, but what they don’t say that is revealing!
Do background checks! Especially if their job entails handling money and finances.

Conducting the Interview

Avoid asking any discriminatory questions. (Need a copy of what these are? Email and I’ll send you one.)
Instead of just asking “How would you handle…”, actually role play a scenario for example of an irritated patient who waited too long in your reception room. BE that irritated patient and as they step into the role of the new assistant, observe their behavior, reactions, facial expressions, body language, consoling words, pauses and hesitations. As a patient, how would YOU feel after interacting with this individual?
Give quizzes. You can administer a simple on-the-spot test to determine basic math, spelling, customer service abilities as well as various types of personality, aptitude and volition tests online. Another option is to check out for one that tests conative strengths including what makes people tick, and what instincts drive their behavior/the way they act.
ALWAYS get input from your current staff in a proactive attempt to reduce unwanted personality clashes.

Before Finalizing

Schedule a second interview (even a third if necessary) before offering your most favored applicant the job to determine if this is a suitable fit for both of you. It will either confirm or refute your first impressions.
Take an applicant that you are seriously considering to lunch. You may find that while they come prepared to put on their most flattering appearance during the interview; you may see a different side to them when they are caught off guard. What to look for? Manners, basic communication skills, appreciation, understanding, etc. The way they treat service people is the way they will treat your patients.

One doctor shared with me his thoughts on hiring. He said, “Lynn, when I hire a new staff person, my goal is to do whatever is necessary to help them succeed in the hopes that they stay with me until I retire!”

Aim for the best. Don’t settle for less. After all, you DO deserve the best, don’t you?