checkNeed an office manager or a front-desk person? Pay and benefits are important but a successful search may depend more on patience. Physicians — most of whom are accustomed to making quick decisions — often don’t put enough time or thought into hiring, says Elizabeth Woodcock, an Atlanta-based practice management expert.

“Until physicians come to realize that they are leading multimillion-dollar businesses, they will tend to hire the wrong people,” Woodcock says.

Wrong as in promoting the longtime staff member who’s easy to work with but who may not have the ability to lead the staff, learn the complexities of a large-scale business or influence customer satisfaction.

In order to hire the right person for the job, follow a structured approach and don’t make these common mistakes when making hiring decisions.

• Don’t read the resume and/or determine the interview questions for the first time while the candidate is in the office. Do prepare thoroughly by developing interview questions that get to the heart of whether the candidate can do the job. Here are a few sample questions to guide your evaluations of potential employees:

1. Customer service: “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a patient complaint.”

2. Priority management: “Tell me about an occasion when you had two doctors or bosses ask you to do conflicting tasks. How did you handle this dilemma?”

3. Response to office politics and gossip: “Tell me about a time at work when a co-worker complained to you about other employees or office policies and procedures, concluding with ‘Don’t you think so too?’ How did you respond?”

• Don’t jump to a conclusion about a candidate in the first few minutes of the interview…then spend the rest of the interview validating your opinion. Do remain objective and balanced.

• Don’t complete an interview without having a good enough understanding about a candidate to make a selection decision. Do end your interview when you can make a selection decision about the candidate.

• Don’t do most of the talking. Do allow the candidate to do most of the talking.

• Don’t describe the job at the beginning of the interview. Do describe the job after you have determined that the candidate has the competencies to do the job.

• Don’t sequence interviews with each interviewer asking the same questions of the candidate. Do have each interviewer ask different questions.

• Don’t ask each candidate interviewing for the same job a different set of questions. Do ask each candidate the same set of questions so you can compare them equally.

• Don’t forget key points about the candidate later. Do take good notes.

• Don’t ask only close-ended (“yes” or “no”) questions. Do ask open-ended questions.

• Don’t allow interruptions (i.e., phone calls and people walking in) to interfere with the interview. Do schedule the interview during a time when you will not be interrupted.

• Don’t hire a candidate who may have falsified information. Do make reference checks.

• Don’t ask discriminatory or inappropriate questions, like, “When did you graduate from high school?” and “Do you have someone who can take care of a sick child?” Do ask questions that are relevant to the job requirements.

Finally, take your time to select the best person for the job. The results of your decision can affect office morale, customer satisfaction, your free time and the bottom line.

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