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Dynamic Chiropractic – January 29, 1996, Vol. 14, Issue 03

Hiring for Your Office

By Kiki Herfert
"I had to let a staff member go last week. I should have fired her months ago, but I just didn't have the energy to think about interviewing and training again. Give me some advice on evaluating applicants and firing poor performers." -- Roswell, Georgia

Staff problems are one of the most frequent complaints I hear.

Your delay and frustration are understandable. You only have so much emotional energy! There are things you can do to make hiring (and firing) easier.

First, you need to make a written job description for the specific job you want to fill. Some people avoid this one thinking that a "good CA should do everything." We agree, but just exactly what is everything? You need this written description to be sure that the person you hire actually possesses the skills that the job requires. By skills I mean the abilities to do the job.

For instance, if you are hiring someone to do the insurance billing and account payments, good research and math skills are a necessity. If they will also be expected to correct/write letters and reports, good grammar and writing skills are needed. However, if you are hiring for the front desk and they are expected to collect money, figure co-pays and deductibles, make appointments, answer the phone and keep the rooms filled, then you need someone skilled at handling people, prioritizing, organizing, communicating, telephoning, and doing mathematics.

Test for the actual skills needed for the specific spot you are trying to fill. Check for simple math skills. Test for the ability to alphabetize words and names. With computers in every area of the office, good typing skills are still necessary. The person needs to be well spoken, and have an innate sense of feel for appropriate business behavior. If you don't hear and see what you need when someone interviews, while trying to impress you, they probably won't have it once they relax.

You also need a written personality/character traits description for the position you are hiring for: things like good at working alone (or strong team player); honest; reliable; outgoing personality; polite; common sense; organized; self-motivated (or follows directions well); even-tempered; helpful; mature -- you get the idea. Traits may be very different for different jobs. The person who works behind the scenes may not need great people skills, but the person who runs your desk or makes financial arrangements with patients absolutely needs them!

Once you've finished your lists, you can compare an applicant's traits and skills to what your "ideal" CA would be. Unless you enjoy frustration, don't hire people with missing traits or bad skills thinking that you'll polish and develop them. If, after hiring, you realize that a new person really doesn't have what you need, let them go as soon as its obvious that they can't do the job. Delays just make you and them feel worse. Make sure they know it's not personal, they just don't measure up to the skills and traits the job requires.

I often suggest that the applicants attend the doctor's health care class (if you have one) before they are interviewed. There's less chance of wasting time and energy on an applicant who doesn't have at least a basic understanding of what you do and why. Attending your class also serves as a "weeding out" process for negative medical attitudes and prejudices. Applicants who attend and are still interested in the job are ready to be tested and interviewed. Good luck!

Kiki Herfert
15852 Jefferson Ave.
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
(313) 822-9199

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