Thursday, February 25, 2010

Associate Dentist Interview Tips

1. Be open to a variety of opportunities. Go to every interview you can. It never hurts to talk, and an opportunity may turn out to be more than you expected. You can learn from each interview even if it doesn't lead to a position.
2. Be open to other locations. The Law of Supply and Demand applies to career and practice opportunities. Typically, the farther you get away from a Dental School, the better the opportunities. Many of the best opportunities are located in great communities just forty-five minutes to three hours away from major Dental School cities. Typically you can increase your earning potential from 10% to 100% by settling in a city or community that is underserved.
3. Get your references ready. They can be former employers, co-workers, or teachers. Contact them to let them know to expect some calls. Have all their contact information in one place.
4. Have your production numbers ready. If you do not have production numbers, then have something that will give the hiring doctor a good idea of your skill set, speed, and experience. If you are just getting out of dental school or a residency, your procedure log may be a good substitute.
5. Consider preparing a “Proof Book” containing:
a. A current CV/Resume
b. Case presentations
c. Before and After photos
d. Production numbers or equivalent
e. Accomplishments
f. Treatment plans
g. Letters of Recommendation
h. References
i. Blank paper for notes
j. Questions for the practice
k. Blank Thank you notes
You may never have to open it, but it demonstrates preparedness and professionalism; this will set you apart from other candidates the practice may be considering.

The Interview
Because you are looking for a long-term position, it is as important for you to interview the prospective employer as it is for them to interview you. It is good to have some questions prepared. This will show interest and give you information you need, as well as take some pressure off the interviewer.

Questions for your interviewer:
NOTE: DO NOT lead off with questions about compensation.
a. What are your treatment philosophies?
b. What would be expected of me as an employee; what role would I be expected to fill; would I be limited to certain types of cases, such as endo or pedo, etc.?
c. Tell me about your patient base: families, geriatric, pediatric, etc.
d. What demographic changes have occurred with your practice in the last ten years? What changes are on the horizon?
e. Do you actively market or depend on referrals?
f. What kind of equipment do you use?
g. What about your practice are you the most proud of?
h. Where do you see the practice in five or ten years?
i. What are your personal and professional goals?
j. What are your goals for the practice?
k. Are you referring a lot of certain type of case out of the practice?
l. What specific things are you looking for the new Associate to bring to the practice?

The telephone interview
1. Return your phone messages and E-mails promptly. It speaks to your motivation, interest, and courtesy. Don’t let returning phone calls or e-mails become an issue or an obstacle to getting an interview. Even if you don’t think you will be interested in an opportunity, return the call. On more than one occasion we have seen a candidate get a call from Practice B when he was already talking with Practice A. The candidate puts off returning the call to Practice B. Two or three weeks later, the opportunity with Practice A does not work out and now Practice B will not consider the candidate because no calls have been returned.
2. Your main goal in a telephone interview is to get a face-to-face interview.
3. Ask for the interview. Take the initiative to set a time. Say something like, "From what you have told me, I would be very interested in meeting with you and coming to see your practice. When would be good for you?"
4. Smile--even on the phone. You really can hear when someone is smiling.

The face-to-face interview
1. Treat the staff with courtesy and respect. A practice owner often feels like his or her staff is like family and will listen to their opinion, especially if it is negative. On more than one occasion, we have seen excellent candidates not offered an opportunity because they treated a staff member poorly.
2. Smile and show some enthusiasm. More candidates are hired because of their personality and positive attitude than because of specific clinical skills. One high-end cosmetic practice told us they had interviewed six different dentists. They hired the candidate who smiled and appeared to truly enjoy being a Dentist, passing on more experienced candidates with less personality and enthusiasm.
3. Show sincere interest in the hiring Dentist's situation. Understand that the Dentist needs to solve a problem. Maybe the practice just lost a key associate or partner. Maybe the practice is growing and cannot keep up with patient demand. Maybe the Dentist needs someone to take over the practice when he or she retires. You need to get a clear understanding of the Dentist’s true motivation for adding an associate. Once you truly understand needs of the hiring Dentist, you can mutually determine if you are the solution.
4. If you are interested let the owner know you are interested. At the close of the interview say something like, “I just wanted to let you know that I am very interested in this opportunity and I am ready to take the next step, what ever that is. How should I proceed from here?” This doesn’t mean that you will accept the job with no further discussion. It simply shows you would be sincerely be interested in discussing contract terms or meeting with other partners, consultants, or staff members as needed.

After the interview
1. Thank you notes. Always send a Thank You note after an interview. Buy Thank You notes prior to going to the interview. Make sure you get a business card from everyone you speak with so you can verify the spelling of their name, their title and the correct address. Immediately after the interview, drive to the local post office or collection box, write a brief Thank You and mail it immediately. Do not put it off. If your timing is right, the practice will get the Thank You note the next day. Even if you don't want the job, it is professional and impressive to thank your interviewer for his/her time.
2. Call the practice in two or three days. If you don't hear anything from the practice after a few days, call them and let them know you are still interested.
3. Working Interview. Offer to do a one or two day working interview.

Negotiating an offer
1. Every offer and every opportunity is unique. Be careful not to compare offers with your colleagues. It is like comparing apples to oranges – they have similarities but are ultimately very different.
2. Know what is most important to you. Do you need a guaranteed salary, or are you confident enough in your skills to work on a percentage basis?
3. Discuss what you want with the recruiter before and after the interview so that they can work as your ambassador. They will let you know if you have received a competitive offer based on the location, type of practice, and other variables.

Written by Marcia Patterson, Northeast Regional Recruiter for ETS Dental. You can reach Marcia at (540) 491-9118 or

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hiring the Right Staff

A key factor in having a successful office is hiring the right staff. Not only will it make your life much easier, but your patients often base their opinions of an office on the staff's interaction with you and with one another.

It is easy to make a hasty hiring decision. Sometimes you will get lucky and they will work out. However, that is not always the case. You are much better off to learn the candidate's personality and skillset to ensure that they are a long term match for you and the practice. Here is a great, short article from Dental Economics with some basic tips to assist you in the hiring process.

Posted by Tiffany Worstell, Dental Staff Recruiter at ETS Dental. You can reach Tiffany at (540) 491-9112 or

ETS Dental specializes in locating and placing Dentists and Dental Staff with independent practices across the country.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Choosing Where to Practice - The Golden Dilemma in Dentistry

In speaking with several doctors recently I am making a renewed effort to better educate job seeking dentists on the markets they would like to live and work in.  Many believe that it's the higher population centers that yield the best opportunities.  It is not.  We've tackled this subject on the Dental Recruiter blog already.  Go to THE GRASS IS GREENER OUTSIDE OF THE CITY for a detailed article written by Marcia Patterson.

I just want to reiterate the fact that you must research the area you want to live and work in.  Many doctors will give you the advice of "move where you want, then find a job."  That is a terrible idea in most cases.  This economy does not afford many people the opportunity to just move to Seattle, for example, and then start knocking on doors.   Look up the dentist to population ratios, average production per dentist, etc.  Speak with recruiters, supply reps, brokers, dental CPAs, etc.  They can give you some localized insight into the demand for dental practitioners in the area.

Don't simply trust the advice of a few classmates or internet boards.  Many of which never even lived or worked in the area(s) you are looking into, but are rather offering advice based on what they have heard through the grapevine.   I speak to doctors everyday in most major metro areas across the Western United States.  I have a good idea what the various regions are like.   If I don't know, I will tell you that, and I will point you to the right person. 

Do your research.  Being close to family, friends, and lots of activities is great, but it is hard to enjoy all of that if you are not in a position that offers you a fulfilling and stable career opportunity.   You need to maintain a healthy family and career balance as a dentist.  Be thorough in your research.  Don't let emotion control the entire thought process. You need to include a lot of hard facts into deciding where it is you want to live and work.

Helpful links:

Carl Guthrie is the Western U.S. Account Executive and Recruiter for ETS Dental.  He can be reached at or 540-491-9104.   ETS Dental is a Denatl Recruiting firm specializing in finding and placing General Dentists, Dental Specialists, and Dental Staff throughout the United States.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Team? What Team?

No dentist practices alone. Your profitability, your patients’ comfort, and your own pleasure in your practice are tied directly to how well you and your staff operate as a team.

But did you know? Many dentists believe that if they hire the best people for the job (and there’s no getting around the need for that!) and bring them all together under one roof, they will have a team. And not just any team, but a great team! Then they wonder what went wrong when their practice dreams don’t come true. Who’s to blame? What hiring mistake did they make? Which person wasn’t a star after all?

Well, maybe there were no hiring mistakes. But if that’s true, how do you fix the problem of your disappointing practice numbers – your distress at going to work every morning to a practice that feels like it’s stuck in glue, where people work at cross purposes and get on each other’s nerves? And where you aren’t making any money! There has to be something you can fix, or you’re doomed to continue as you are. What’s wrong with your team???

The answer may surprise you. The fact is, you may not actually have a team. A collection of talented individuals and a team are not necessarily one and the same.

Think about it. In sports, people dream of an All-Star team – of what a team with the best hitters, the best pitchers, the best fielders, or maybe the best quarterback and the best running backs and tacklers could do. Some sports actually have All-Star team competitions at some point in the season. But the games don’t live up to the hype. Why? Because these ad-hoc “teams” aren’t really teams at all. They’re just a collection of stellar players that somebody called a team. But just calling a group, no matter how talented, a team, does not make it so.

Have you noticed how two brothers or two sisters on a team can play circles around the other players? Or two friends from the same high school on a college team? Or a quarterback and his favorite receiver? That’s because they have something going between them that puts them at an advantage over other players. This something forms them into a mini-team, and when you have teamwork going for you, you’re hard to beat.

A real team made up of average players can probably beat a random collection of star players any day, because a team is greater than the sum of its parts. And what you may have is not a team at all but a random collection of star players.

So now you may ask, jis there something I can do about this? kHow do I take my “random” collection of star performers and make them into a real team? lAnd if I can, how will I know I’ve succeeded? mWhat difference will I see on a day to day basis? nIs it too late? And ois it worth it?

Excellent questions.

The short answers are 1) yes, 2) it’s hard, 3) you’ll love going to work and you’ll be making money, 4) work will flow smoothly and there will be lots of it, with no infighting, 5) no, and 6) yes.

Getting started is simple. Just as you do an exam on a new patient, you and your team can examine team skills by taking a simple survey. The results can guide your actions. To request a survey for your team, email me at I’ll send you a link to the survey that is unique for your team, along with complete instructions. Then, you and each of your care team members fill it out online. When we get all the responses, I will send you a written report, summarizing your team’s results and offering ideas for improvement (I will send your report to you at the email account from which you request the survey, unless you indicate otherwise.)

Dana C. Ackley, Ph.D, EQ Leader, Inc.
ETS Dental Industry Insight, December 2009

Dana C. Ackley, Ph.D. is president of EQ Leader, Inc. A psychologist, he has years of experience coaching dentists and their teams. Dr. Ackley has been a guest lecturer at the Pankey Institute and published numerous articles in Dentistry Today and Dental Economics. He is an internationally recognized expert in emotional intelligence.

Posted by Mark Kennedy, Owner/Director of ETS Dental. You can reach Mark at or 540-491-9103. To find out more about ETS Dental, check us out at