Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Interviewing Methods in Your Dental Practice: Traditional versus Behavioral Interviewing

How do you interview? Do you just let a conversation happen, or do you take the time to dig a little deeper? There are two regularly used interview methods: The Traditional Interview and the Behavioral Interview. I highly recommend incorporating both when you interview candidates for your associate dentist or staff positions, as each method offers valuable insight about a candidate’s professional and personal qualities.

Our friends at CEDR HR Solutions do a great job of defining both of these interview methods:

“In a traditional interview, the interviewer asks prospective hires a series of straightforward, open-ended questions like, 'How would you handle [insert hypothetical situation],' 'What 5 words best describe you,' 'What is your greatest weakness,' or 'Describe what customer service means to you.'

In contrast, for a behavioral interview, the employer identifies a vital skill set that they want the ideal person in that position to have and then develops a series of questions geared toward eliciting answers where the candidate demonstrated those skills in the past.

For example:

  • Tell me about a time where you had to use patience to calm down a patient.

  • Describe a goal you set for yourself and how you met it.

  • What do you consider your greatest work achievement?

  • How do you handle interruptions at work? Give examples .”

You can read the whole article at

Anyone can describe their skills in a traditional question and answer interview. However, the Behavioral Interview questions will allow you to gain insight into how the candidate applies those skills, which is much more important in your dental practice.

Here are some other questions that could apply directly to hiring in your dental practice:

To an associate dentist candidate:

  • Describe an instance when you worked with a patient to overcome their dental phobia to gain their trust.

  • How do you accept input from a dental assistant while in the operatory with a patient?

  • Tell me about a time when you did not agree with a treatment plan developed by another provider. How did you address this matter and still provide quality care to the patient?

To a staff member candidate:

  • Describe a time when you had to get a patient payment upfront but they did either did not or could not pay at that time?

  • How would you handle an employee who is repeatedly missing work or consistently late?

Take some time before your next interview and write questions that will help you to determine if the next candidate fits the needs and challenges in your practice.

Special thanks to Paul Edwards and his team at CEDR HR Solutions for allowing us to quote from BEHAVIORAL INTERVEW: An Employer’s Best Hiring Tool. CEDR is an HR firm specializing in custom employee handbooks and other HR resources for Dental practices across the United States.

Written by Carl Guthrie, Senior Account Executive and Recruiter for ETS Dental,