Hiring managers' tips to hire top dental talent

Illustration of computer search viewing resumes

Suggestions for success, from posting the job to making the offer 

When dental team members resign, it can feel frustrating for dental office managers — since the task of filling the now-open position often falls to them. 

Luckily, Beverly Wilburn, MAADOM, and Leslie A. Lytle, MAADOM — both office managers who hold Mastership in the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM) — have collective experience with doing just that. Here, they lend insight into recruiting, interviewing and hiring dental staff members, including dental assistants. 

Creating the job posting

Finding someone new can seem daunting — but preparation is the key to success. “One of the first tasks is to make sure you have a solid job description,” Lytle advises. Consider: 

  • What is the preferred education and experience level for the role? 
  • Are any exams, education or credentials required in your state? 
  • What tasks will the employee perform? 

Be specific when it comes to tasks. “If a requirement would be presenting treatment plans to patients and getting them scheduled, make sure to include that,” Wilburn notes. “If being friendly and offering kind service meets the expectation for that office, add that.” 

Also consider looking to those employees already on staff to weigh in. As Lytle shares: “We bring our assistants together to document daily duties, and to provide much-needed input.” 

Lytle recommends including any available benefits, such as time off, health insurance, a retirement plan, the working hours (especially if flexible), continuing education support, and the pay range (especially if above average). 

When it comes to salary, Wilburn recommends determining whether the pay for the position is competitive for your area. A good source of this information is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as DANB’s Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction Survey.

Getting the word out

Once you’ve created the perfect job posting, it’s time to publish it. “Ultimately, where you post the position can be a big factor in whether you attract qualified individuals as intended,” Lytle acknowledges. 

Whether you’re posting the position to your dental practice website, to job-board sites such as Indeed.com, or to social media platforms like LinkedIn, be sure to pay attention to the details when publishing it, just as you’d expect job candidates to do when applying. 

Reviewing the applications

After a few weeks, applications likely will start rolling in — which can be exciting and a bit overwhelming for the office manager. 

“Reviewing applications and resumes can be tedious,” Lytle says, “but if done correctly, you can weed out candidates who don’t seem to be the right fit.” She recommends deciding on your deal-breakers. “For instance, if I notice that a candidate is a ‘job hopper,’ I tend to move that application to the bottom of the pile.” 

Consider your must-haves as well. For Lytle, these include maintaining consistent employment, meeting the qualifications spelled out in the job posting, and holding current certifications. 

Interviewing before making the offer

After you’ve chosen the top candidates, it’s time to interview them, whether that’s over the phone, virtually via computer, or face-to-face. 

Lytle typically prefers to meet the interviewee face-to-face. Wilburn agrees, adding that sometimes she’ll even schedule small-group interviews to save time. 

“Bringing applicants in to our practice provides them with the opportunity to see our facility, as well as get a sense for how the practice operates,” Lytle says. 

During the interview, Lytle reviews the benefits, practice hours, mission statement and core values. “From there, my questions are tailored to get a feel for what motivates a candidate, as well as how the candidate might work with team members, and how they deal with difficult or challenging situations,” she adds. 

Lytle also typically introduces the candidate to the team — a great way to assess their people skills, critical for working with potential colleagues and patients. 

If the candidate excels during the first interview, it’s likely they’ll be asked back for a second or third before a job offer is made. “It is very rare that we offer a position to a candidate during the initial interview,” Lytle explains. “On occasion, I’ve even had them participate in a morning dental team huddle to help decide if they are a good fit.” 

Wilburn acknowledges that even the strongest job candidates-turned-employees don’t always stay at the practice for the long haul — and that’s OK. There’s something to be learned from every interviewee, every colleague, and every work experience. Plus, professional growth and movement is expected in the working world.