Human Resources

How to Recruit & Hire Great Dental Employees

Practice owners have to recruit and hire a wide variety of personnel, including hygienists and assistants, receptionists and billing coordinators, and even associate dentists. Good help can be hard to find, though. With new regulations and the evolving online world, it may seem nearly impossible. Fortunately, Burkhart’s Practice Support Team offers resources for finding, recruiting, hiring, and retaining the right candidate, along with our team of consultants who are available to answer questions.


Job Descriptions

Examine the positions you need to fill. Then, write a job description. Consider the duties of the role itself – be specific about necessary skills, such as chairside skills, clerical work or communication, and other soft skills. The description also needs to be specific about employee classification. Salary versus hourly?

These descriptions will be needed long after hiring is done – during the team member’s training, during performance evaluations, or any conversations you have with the hiree regarding the position. Please see our sample job descriptions for guidance.


Advertising the Position

To recruit and hire, it isn’t enough to say you have an opening available. Emphasize why your practice is a great place to work. Your ads should be as dynamic as possible, explaining why candidates would want to work for you. Burkhart’s Practice Support Team has sample ads for your review.

Ads in newspapers and online still carry impact, and social media like Facebook and Instagram can help extend your reach. The personal touch helps, too. Your current patients might know good candidates – so might colleagues at conferences and society meetings. Just ask them.


The Application & Interview

Many practices speak to applicants by phone before deciding who should be invited into the office for an interview. These screenings can save you and the applicant some time while giving you a better idea of their personality beyond their cover letter and resume.

Before you begin interviewing, develop a list of questions for all potential candidates to maintain a level playing field and head off potential discrimination claims. Provide a copy of the job description during the interview too.

Hypothetical situations are good topics for the interview. How would they react to changing schedules in light of emergency cases, for example? Or, how would they handle a disagreement with another member of the team? Get an idea of how they work under pressure.

Beyond the answers to these questions, the interview is the best time to observe a candidate’s personality. Was the candidate articulate and able to look you in the eye? Were answers candid and honest? Interpersonal dynamics will play a significant role in your practice.

Some practices then call likely candidates back for a “working interview,” where they spend time performing the anticipated duties to give you an idea of how they work. While this seems to be a practical strategy for evaluation, we caution you against this. If the candidate agrees to come to the office and “work,” even if it is for just one hour, they are considered an employee and must be paid. You would also have to provide all new-employee documentation. Instead, we recommend having the candidate come in to shadow your current employees. These candidates wouldn’t do any actual work, but they could see how you operate, how they connect with your team, and get a feel for the office’s pace and operations.


References & Background Checks

Though some practices overlook them, references and background checks are essential for every new hire. You also need to validate licenses and credentials as necessary. Applicants should be aware you’re going to perform these checks, and you might use the information for decisions about their employment. This notice must be in a standalone written document shared with the candidate. You need each candidate’s written permission to perform the background check. Be sure to reference EEOC and FTC regulations around background checks.

As for references, employers should stick to questions specific to the job. The biggest one is if the candidate is eligible to be re-hired. Others can include salary and length of employment, though the intangibles are fair game too.


The Hiring Decision & Onboarding

Of course, you should consider candidates who successfully meet the needs outlined in your written job description(s). Bear in mind, new hires aren’t just your employees. They are also new members of your dental team, so the way they may interact with your current workers should be a big part of the decision. Your current employees’ participation in the process may be essential, too.

Once you’ve made your decision and the offer, and the candidate has accepted it, it’s time to prepare for the transition. Provide any forms that need to be filled out ahead of time, so your new employee doesn’t spend a couple of hours on day one dealing with paperwork. Additionally, set up a defined training schedule.

Don’t forget to make that first-day fun! Welcome your new employee with breakfast or by going out to lunch. Welcome them in and allow them to acclimate, and they will do great things for you.


Reach Out to Us

Get in Touch

  • Hi, I'm
  • from
  • and I'm looking for help with
  • My Zip code is
  • and you can reach me at
  • or
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.