The Fine Art of Hiring

By: Jeffrey Olsen, DC

I am old enough to remember when a person would begin their career with a company, work their way up the ladder, and retire from that company. The employee was seen as being loyal to the company and, conversely, the economy was such that the employee was assured of a position in the company as long as they wanted to work there, and functioned as a valued employee. We all know that while there’s something comforting with that image, the system was not always perfect. Nonetheless, that is a scenario seldom seen in our current social and economic climate. As employers, we must face the fact that we are going to need to invest time in the hiring and training of employees. Hopefully, the time is spent in devising a strategy and working with our employee(s) towards mutually beneficial goals. Unfortunately, the time is often spent in an endless cycle of hiring, training, losing/firing and hiring. That spiral takes an inordinate amount of energy and will ultimately undermine a practice.

So what steps can you take to keep that cycle from happening, or at least, keep it to a minimum? Some good, solid business practices that may seem like a bother will reward you in the end with a solid hiring strategy.

Hire with Purpose

If all you’re looking for is a warm body to fill a position, that is what you’re going to get. Before you start the hiring process, determine a general job description, have in mind the qualifications you require, and have office policies and procedures as guidelines. A small business is just that. A business. And treating the business – be it a two-person office, or a large Chiropractic practice – as such starts with the hiring of your personnel and the development of a solid set of office guidelines and procedures. It is important to develop your hiring standards and follow them in all hiring situations.

Develop a set of questions that are asked to each applicant. Develop questions that are relevant to the position. A list of questions helps avoid accusations of preferential or discriminatory treatment. Make notes of the responses so you can review them when making your decision. When devising the questions, remember that you must be careful what you ask in an interview. There are some things that just can’t be asked, but there are also some delicate questions that can be asked as long as the question is asked of every applicant regardless of age, race, or gender. Some examples are: availability to work on weekends and evenings (if this is a business necessity); whether they are a U.S. citizen or an alien authorized to work in the United States; and language (can they read/write English) if required by the position. Check your state and local EEOC to determine if there are any exceptions.

Research the position to make sure you are offering competitive wages. You may luck out and find the dream employee at a bargain wage, but this will probably not work out in the long run. It’s best to know that the wages/benefits you are offering are in line with the work you require.

Give out the facts up front. If the applicant knows what you expect, and has an idea of his/her working conditions and benefits, you will be better off in the long run. You need to keep in mind that not only are you looking for an employee that is a perfect fit in your organization, you want an employee that is interested in what you are offering.

Remember that the candidate is also interviewing you. In addition to looking for that perfect candidate, you are promoting the position, your practice, and yourself as well. Put your best foot forward. Be prepared for the interview, be prompt, and keep any commitment you make. If you say your are going to call at a certain time, do it. It is as important for you to practice and hone your interviewing skills as it is for the applicant the practice being interviewed. The more comfortable you are with the process, the smoother it will go.

Check references. State to the applicant that references will be checked. When making the calls to references, have a written list of job-related questions to ask and take notes on the responses. One question you should always ask is whether the previous employer would rehire the applicant.

If possible, do not prolong the process. Don’t settle, but don’t take longer to make your decision than necessary. If you are truly not satisfied with the applicants, consider hiring a temporary employee. You can continue to seek a permanent employee in the meantime, and you never know—it may turn out that the temporary employee works out as a permanent hire. The best employees I have ever hired are energetic patients who keep appointments, pay their bill on time, refer friends, and appreciate my care

As a small business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities. A smooth running office is one of the more controllable aspects of your business. These guidelines should help you establish the basis for a strong team.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Olsen is a 1996 Presidential Scholar and summa cum laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. Dr. Olsen has been in private practice with his two partners/brothers since 1997, in Roanoke, VA. In addition to his practice, Dr. Olsen has instructed as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, teaching Anatomy and Physiology in the Physician Assistant department, and as a lecturer for Foot Levelers’ popular license-renewal seminars.