There is no full proof way for a dental practice owner to know if a prospective employee will work out or not. The prospective employee can interview well, have a good resume and give all the right answers but they may still be a disaster.
The trick is to be able recognize fairly quickly you made an error and cut your losses if you do get fooled. Don't feel bad if it happens as it has happened to nearly everyone more often than we would like.
Also never overpay. Whatever you do don't blow out your payroll percent with a high paying "free agent". It rarely works out in sports let alone in the management of dental practices.
1) Engage in social conversation to make the job candidate feel at ease and to observe their ability to small talk. Are they too serious or too nervous? If so, they are probably going to be the same with patients.
2) Ask them about their job history. What did they like most about their last job? What did they like the least? Why? Get them to give you specifics about both to see if they will complain or criticize their previous employer or are they complimentary of their previous employer and concentrate on the positive?
3) Go over the concept of an employee producing a result. For example the results of an dental appointment book secretary are patients arrived on time for the proper amount of time; not just a name in the appointment book. Then ask them what results they produced on their previous job(s). You may have to help them out on being specific by guiding them but not putting words in their mouth. One of the things you're looking for is their attitude when they finally get the idea of producing a result and when they look at whether they've ever produced results or not. If their attitude worsens you may be looking at a nonproductive individual which gives you your answer. If their attitude improves and they get more enthusiastic you may have a winner.
4) Find out what they think about dentistry. Have they been good about their own dental health? It's amazing to see how many people applying for a job at a dental office will tell you they "try to avoid going as much as possible" or some such thing. Ask them if they think a person should spend thousands of dollars to have a healthy mouth and nice smile? Could they ask somebody to pay $5,000 in full today to start their treatment? Be very direct when you ask this question to see if they flinch or suppress their shock or disagreement even though they may be saying "no problem".
5) Put them on the spot by doing some instant role playing to see how they handle it. It's OK if they get nervous or fumble around with this part because it's a tough thing to do when you're not prepared. The ones that do it, don't object or don’t get "totally flustered" are good candidates. If it's a dental receptionist, role play something like greeting a new patient and asking them to fill out the medical history or collecting money from a patient at the front desk or calming a patient down that's a "fear patient".
6) Finally, tell them that you emphasize training, having written policies (I hope you do!) to correct staff when they make a mistake and that you are “result” oriented and expect staff to be accountable for their areas.
The main thing you're looking for is their ATTITUDE and COMMUNICATION ability. In other words does their attitude stay interested and enthusiastic and do they talk about positive things, laugh when appropriate and react positively to the concept of written policies, getting results and accountability. Attitude is everything.
Just remember you still won't know what you really have until you see them in action.