Dental Practice 101: Three Tips for Hiring the Best Employees for Your Dental Office Staff

Dental hiring is possibly the most stressful part of your job. You must figure out how to define, attract, and screen for the best talent, all while running your practice and treating patients. These three tips should simplify your task by helping you define what you mean by “best talent,” understanding how to attract candidates, and determining how to screen for the best of the best.

These tips will supplement your standard process for recruiting and hiring, which should include:

  • Writing a job description
  • Recruiting for the position through advertising and word of mouth
  • Screening candidates, including reviewing resumes and conducting interviews
  • Checking references and backgrounds

Match the Candidate to Your Brand

Before you can understand who you want to hire, you must first understand who you want to be as a dental office. Then you can define the type of person you are looking to hire. The first question to answer is, What is your brand personality? Take some time to think about this question, and write down your answers. Ask yourself, How do I want my patients to perceive my office? Are we friendly, reliable, expert, cheerful, edgy, fun, sincere, and so on? Make a list of your five most important attributes. Then list three or four adjectives that make up each attribute. For example, under friendly, you might list warm, inviting, interested, and attentive.

When you write the job description, include the primary attributes. For example, a job description might start, Dental practice in Des Moines is looking for a cheerful, fun, and reliable dental assistant.

Where to Look for Dental Employees

Finding employees, especially in today’s tight job market, is a challenge. Two types of employees are available, those who are unemployed and looking, and those who are employed and not looking but might be open to making a move. You should focus on both types of potential employees.

Those who are looking for opportunities know that networking is their best chance for landing a job. A 2019 survey found that 50 percent of people found jobs through friends, and 37 percent through professional networks.1 You should be using those same networks to reach candidates, especially those who are currently employed and not likely to be searching the job boards or sending you resumes. Let everyone in your professional network know that you are hiring and the type of person you are seeking. This includes colleagues, employees, and any local associations you belong to such as the Rotary.

Social media opens an entire world on recruiting. You can start by listing your job openings on sites such as LinkedIn, which is directed at job seekers, but also ask staff members to announce your opportunities on their Facebook, Instagram, Marco Polo, and other sites they use.

Dedicated web-based recruiters such as are also a good source of applicants, but carefully read reviews from other customers, and check on the BBB website2 before you use them. Do include professional association job boards such as the American Dental Association (ADA)3 and American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM)4, especially if you are searching nationwide.

Screen for Competence

In addition to the standard questions you ask in an interview, include questions that cover each of the attributes you defined in your dental practice brand personality in the first tip above. This is where the adjectives you use to define the attributes are helpful. For example, if reliable were one of your attributes, and you used dependable as an adjective, ask each candidate to describe a time when they were asked to complete an important task for which they didn’t have time. Look for candidates who describe actual experiences rather than hypothetical situations.

Include real-world testing. For a hygienist or dental assistant, consider bringing candidates in for a day to do actual work. Let them know this is a testing period, and you are bringing in additional candidates. For front-office staff, ask your office manager to have the candidate go through common tasks in the practice management software, such as scheduling, submitting insurance claims, and updating patient profiles. If you have add-on services such as patient communications and electronic claims, be sure the candidate is proficient with these as well.

Hiring office staff members who are skilled and promote your dental practice is a daunting responsibility, but you can be more successful than your competitors if you put a little extra effort into the hiring process. Make sure you have defined your brand personality and that the traits are built into the job description. Spread your candidate search as broadly as possible, focusing on the same networks candidates use to find jobs. Then include your brand personality along with job competence in your screening process.

Because Dentrix is the foundation of more dental practices than any other practice management system, more job candidates are also proficient with Dentrix. Dentrix provides one management system with one workflow, so your team works smarter.


Published: 06/21/2021
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