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Dental Consultant Staff Hiring Protocol

1. Typically practice owners do not have or do not follow an effective hiring protocol as they are often in a hurry. Many successful practice owners follow the maxim “Hire slow, fire fast”. By doing so you increase the probabilityof hiring a “good employee”.

2. Hire for ATTITUDE is hiring Golden Rule #1. The right attitude cannot be taught. Everything else can be. 

3. Interviews only give you an “outer-view”. You won’t really know if you have a winner until you see the employee in action over a period of time. If the employee does not meet expectations within 90 days, dismiss and start over again. You might have to do so multiple times until you get your “good employee”. 

4. Employees need to be smart. Test final candidates. Many successful practice owners use the Wonderlic Test

5. Background checks and a credit history can reveal:

Criminal history but, do not be concerned with a jaywalking ticket or other minor issues especially from years ago.
Jobs not listed by the applicant on their resume or application can show up on a background check. If the applicant omits listing previous employment this begs the question, “Why did the applicant omit certain past job positions?”
Credit reports can reveal precarious financial situations but, credit reports are often inaccurate and can include negative credit from a spouse so keep that in mind. 

Do not run a background and credit check on every applicant. Credit checks can be limited to only those handling money. Only do background and credit checks on your final candidate(s). Your employment application should include permission to do so. Many use SurePayroll Pre-Employment Screening

6. There is no such thing as a “working interview”. If the applicant works for you, even for an hour, they are an employee and must be paid as an employee. If you do not want the applicant to be considered an employee, even for an afternoon, do what is known as skills testing or skill assessments A few bullet points on skill testing/assessments:

• Time spent cannot primarily benefit the practice.
• No production can be performed including on other employees if staff have dental work as a benefit already. 
• The potential employee can't be replacing anyone, even temporarily. 
• You can't offer any compensation. Not even a gift card. 
• Try to limit to 2-3 hours.

For DAs and RDH a 2-3 hour "clinical interview" is critical asyou can quickly assess the applicant’s skills. For example, with a DA, you can have the applicant take bitewings on yourself and take an impression and make a temporary crown on a prepped tooth model. You can determine how gentle they are, how they deal with pressure and if they can think on their feet or not.

Sample interview questions for DAs. 

         Favorite procedure?

         Skills you’d like to learn?

         Do you enjoy presenting treatment?

         What do you like most about being a DA?

         What expanded duties did you do at Dr. ______'s office?

         What brands/kinds of cements/bonding materials are you familiar with?

         Per OSHA regulations how do you sterilize instruments?

         How do you handle a patient who shows signs of being    afraid?

         How do you handle a patient who is in pain ?

         Which dental software have you worked with? 

7. Keep your eyes open as there are good people everywhere especially true of customer service people such as bank tellers. They will require training but that is often the better option. 

8. Don’t interview people with unrealistic salary and benefit expectations.

9. Want ads: Do not list salary, etc. If too low, you might scare off some good prospective employees. Examples of recommended wording: 

Salary based on experience.
Compensation based on experience, plus a comprehensive benefits package. 
Strong base pay plus a lucrative production bonus plan.

10. Ask behavioral type questions in the interview: What big goal have they set and accomplished? 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 do they concentrate on the positives. 

11. Go over the concept of an employee producing a result. For example, one of the results of a scheduler is that patients arrive on time for the proper amount of time; not just a name in the schedule. 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. 

12. 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. 

13. ome practice owners like to have their staff take the best candidate out to lunch and then have the staff give a thumbs up or not. There is a lot to be said for this method as the staff will take more responsibility for the new employee if they have some "skin in the game".

14. f you do not like to hire or interview or are not that good at it then you need to delegate it to an employee who you trust to do a thorough job. 

 Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at 

Dental Consultant Tip: Staff Dismissal Worries
Dental Practice Consulting: Lowering Overhead

What Does A Dental Consultant Do? 

Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.

Marketing & New Patients

Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background. 

Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists

Dental Office Systems

Key systems dental consultants implement:

  1. New Patient Phone Call
  2. Insurance Processing
  3. New Patient Experience and Patient Education
  4. Financial Arrangements
  5. Scheduling
  6. Confirmation
  7. Unscheduled Treatment Followup
  8. Reactivation
  9. Huddle
  10. Stat Monitoring
  11. Daily and Weekly Checklists
  12. General Policy Manual

Your Staff

You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.

Staff Accountability 

What gets monitored gets done.

The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?

The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals

It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.  


What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance.  Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline: 

  1. Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
  2. Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
  3. Set a good example.
  4. Always be learning.
  5. Take care of yourself.
  6. Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.

Questions You Should Ask

  1. Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
  2. Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
  3. If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
  4. Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
  5. The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.

If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.