Get the Questions Right!


The search for a new team member can be daunting. You not only seek to find someone who possesses the necessary skills, but also someone who will fit in seamlessly with your team.

Determining the skill set is straight-forward, as this is usually indicated by relevant education and on-the-job experience. But what about determining how they will fit it at your practice? How do you discover their character?

“What questions do I ask in an interview?” is a question I am asked frequently, so I thought I would share my process.


Research online the previous practices the candidate has worked for. Many practice websites detail their services and how they relate to patients. Do these practices appear to hold similar values to that of your practice? For example, the requirements working in community health organisations are unique and different to those when working in aesthetic, prosthodontic practice.

Look at social media sites such as LinkedIn. A LinkedIn profile often reveals additional information to that in the candidate’s Resume.


Once you find someone that looks good on paper, organise a time to telephone them. The candidate’s ability to build rapport and communicate effectively without the benefit of body language will indicate whether they are impressive enough to warrant an in-person interview.

Ask the candidate to describe their career and the practices in which they have worked.

Ask the candidate to describe their ideal working environment.

Describe your practice, its vision and values to the candidate. Ask them whether your practice is one in which they could see themselves performing passionately and happily.

Let the candidate speak with minimal interjection by you. Listen for:

  • language (pronunciation, speed, strength of voice)
  • confidence
  • friendliness
  • when you speak, do they speak over you?
  • does conversation flow freely, or is constant prompting needed?

You will find yourself either enjoying the conversation, or not.

If you elect to cease communications with an applicant at this point, thank them for their time and assure them you will be in contact once all telephone interviews have been completed, to let them know whether they have progressed to an in-person interview. Don’t be afraid of being up-front about the candidate’s chances. They will appreciate your honesty and it will avoid them getting unnecessarily excited about the prospect of a meeting.


The in-person interview is an opportunity to discover the candidate’s values, degree of self-awareness and any insights about their role in a dental practice.


  • Punctuality
  • Presentation and grooming
  • Does the candidate engage effectively through body language and eye contact?

Ask questions that reveal the candidates character. Some of my favourite questions are:

Why do you want to leave your current position?

What are you hoping for with a new position?

What appeals to you about this practice?

What do you believe a team members need to perform at their best?

Tell me about the working relationships you’ve had in the past. Describe a great one. Describe a bad one.

What do you believe dental patients need to be happy and loyal to their dental practice?

What are your strengths?

Next, provide a detailed description of the tasks the candidate would be expected to perform. Ask, do you believe you are capable of performing these tasks, or, if not, for which tasks would you need training?

Using both the phone and in-person interviews effectively will give you the greatest chance of hiring the next high performing member of your team, so it’s worthwhile getting the questions right!