Finding The Right Team Member

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Vanessa Escobar

Looking for team members is challenging, and although it is getting better, our applicant pool is vastly different now. Every industry is having a hard time filling positions post-COVID. With work-life balance and many positions offered remotely, how do we find the right team members for our practices?

My office was building our new location right before the COVID shutdown. Although some team members stayed, we had several who returned to school or changed careers and team members who reduced hours or quit to stay at home with young children. With the opening of our new office in the Fall of 2020, I needed to replace my team’s hours and increase their size because of an increase in operatories. Our office was going from a team of 12 to 30.

After COVID, recruiting and hiring have been one of my primary duties. Here are some of the things I learned along the way.

Post, Screen, and Interview

Where should you post the job position? I primarily focus on social media and Indeed…click to open link in new tab…. For social media, add a nice flier with pictures of your team, including what your office is looking for and where to send resumes. The post should be positive and reflect your office culture. You can also add a link to the post so potential applicants can gain more information about the job opening.  Our office is open to hiring candidates with different experiences in the dental field.  We have hired assistants with no experience and those with experience who want a different role in our practice.    

When posting on Indeed, make sure you include a detailed outline of the day-to-day responsibilities, add pictures of your office and team, and include office hours, website information, etc. The more information you provide, the better. Afterward, examine the ad and see if you would apply for the job if you were searching for a position.

Indeed offers ads for job postings. It works very well. I usually add a sponsorship per click for my job posting. Similar to Google ads, it makes your ad more visible to potential candidates. I typically do $5-$25 a day for two weeks. Indeed does share data on which job postings rank higher. I review the others and see if I need to adjust specific words to my job postings. I also recommend adding primary questions to help filter your search. For example, “Are you licensed in this state?” would be a required qualification, and “Do you have at least one year of experience?” would be a preferred qualification.

Outside of Indeed, you can post to your dental society, dental associations (ADA, FDA, specialty organizations), and schools. I contact dental assisting schools in my area and request interns. Bringing interns to your office is a great way to observe their work ethic before you hire them. I would recommend having a meet and greet with the intern and review expectations.

I emphasize that they have the same rules as a team member at our office. For example, they must arrive on time and have a positive attitude. The interns who don’t abide by the rules cannot finish their hours at our office. Approximately 80% of my dental assistants were hired as interns. I always start interns with the basics, such as sterilization, flipping rooms, and setups. During their internship, I evaluate their personality and whether they are coachable and work well with the rest of the team. We focus heavily on being a team player. I also check to see if they are reliable and punctual. 

If the position requires a license, I check for this when reviewing resumes. I look for whether they stay in their jobs or jump around. Are they close to our office? Is their resume put together and complete? 

All potential candidates begin with a 5- to 10-minute phone screening. I ask what brings them to the job market, their availability, and when they could start. I pay attention to whether they are friendly and professional on the phone; they are not invited to a formal interview if they are impolite or not engaged on the phone. 

Texting candidates to schedule phone interviews has worked well. I also mentioned that if anything changes or if they are not interested in the position, they should please update me by text.

If the phone interview goes well, invite them for a face-to-face interview. I always send a text confirmation with the day/time of their interview. A day before the interview, I call or text to confirm. Similar to a patient’s appointment, it is best to confirm with the candidates since some tend not to attend. 

I consider a few things with interviews: 1) Are they on time? 2)  Are they presentable and well-dressed for an interview? 3) Are they personable? My goal for an interview is to get to know the candidate’s personality. I have them elaborate on the questions and listen attentively. My favorite questions typically pertain to dental office scenarios, which include success stories or challenging situations they have encountered. When they explain difficult situations, I always ask what they would do differently or what they learned from that experience. My goal is to get the candidates to communicate, and I become an active listener. At the end of the interview, I ask if they have any further questions, and then we tour the office.  During the tour, I boast about my team and all the great things our office offers.

Finding team members is challenging but necessary since we must keep an office fully staffed. Focus on what attracted you to the office and ask your team what’s important to them. If they mention benefits, ask which ones they are seeking. Like you market your patients, you need to spend time marketing your potential team members. Put yourself in a potential candidate’s position and make your office stand out as a great workplace.

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About the Author

Headshot of Vanessa Escobar

About the Author

Vanessa grew up in Central Florida and attended Florida State University, earning a BS in international affairs with a minor in business administration. She joined Winter Garden Smiles in 2011 and oversees the finances, operations, and marketing. She is active in several organizations, including Lambda Theta Alpha, Central/North Florida Alzheimer’s Association, and Leadership West Orange. Vanessa is the founding president of the Central Florida chapter of AADOM, received her FAADOM in 2021, and will be inducted in the 2023 Class of AADOM Masters this September at the AADOM Conference. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Ricardo, and her kids.

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