To hire or not to hire…

Susie Anderson-Sharkey tackles the thorny issue of recruitment in her latest management article

23 June, 2017 / management
 Susie Anderson-Sharkey  

In this issue I want to delve in the minefield that is recruitment, and ask the question: “Can we really get it right 100 per cent of the time?” Hopefully, by the end of this article we shall come to some sort of conclusion.

In the business of business (if you follow what I mean), I have always felt that the whole area of recruitment is the trickiest of all. Over the many years I have been in the dental profession, I have lost count of the number of people I have interviewed for various positions, and I can say that a lot has changed in the recruitment front since I entered the wonderful world of dentistry way back in 1991.

In those days, you could ask someone how old they are, how many kids do they have, are they planning on having any more kids, what does your husband do for a living (totally irrelevant to the position of dental nurse but nosiness sometimes gets the better of us all!). Nowadays, there are very strict criteria on what can be asked at the time of interview and, to be honest, I don’t think it has made much of a difference. With the emergence of social media over the years, everyone is “out there” and it’s relatively easy to find the information you are looking for.

“Nowadays, there are very strict criteria on what can be asked at the time of interview and, to be honest, I don’t think it has made much of a difference”

Susie Anderson-Sharkey

When looking for a candidate, it’s important to ask yourself several questions such as:

  • Am I looking for a trainee or a qualified nurse?
  • Am I looking for part-time or full-time?
  • What duties do I want the candidate to be able to perform?

These are just one or two questions, but from there you can begin to put together a job specification and match CVs against the job specification (how closely does this CV match all of my requirements? Does it tick all the boxes?).

How are you going to advertise? There are various ways and means, and, like me, you’ve probably tried most of them over the years. Word of mouth can be very useful and we’ve had a few excellent candidates from this method. Dentistry is a fairly small pond, and every nurse knows a nurse who knows a nurse who’s interested in a career move. However, ideally you would like to have a few candidates and online advertising tends to be the most popular way to kick start the selection process.

We were recently advertising for a new member of staff and I put an advert in what I thought was a popular site for recruitment. However, I got fewer replies that I expected, so I then went onto a lesser known recruitment site (lesser known to myself) and the replies came flooding in. Keep up to date with where people are looking and it can save a lot of time and money.

Next up are what I call the three Ss: screening, shortlisting and selection.

This is where you look at the CVs and match them up with the job specification as I mentioned earlier. Honestly, this isn’t too hard a job. You will get CVs that in no shape or form come close to your job specification, therefore I would reject these immediately.

You’ve hopefully got a number of CVs that match up fairly closely to your job specification. How many people do you want to interview? Do you want to interview everyone on the same day, or over a few days? I tend to try to interview about four or five candidates for a position, and also try to interview them quite closely together. Make up a list of questions, keep them relevant to the job and ask each candidate the same questions. At least two people should be in on the interview process, one asking the questions and the other to note down the answers.

Hopefully, from the interview process you will have a couple of candidates who are potential future employees who you can get back for final selection interview and, at this stage, you would follow through on their references.

On our most recent recruitment drive, we had two equally good candidates and it took three interviews with each of them to make a final decision. We felt that both candidates would have fitted well with our team and our ethos, and in the end it came down to how one of the questions was answered.

To summarise all of the above:

  • Write a job specification
  • Advertise the position
  • Screen CVs
  • Shortlist
  • Select.

So, let’s go back to the question at the beginning. Is it possible to it right 100 per cent of the time? Honestly… no.

You can go through the process of job specification, advertise, screening, shortlisting, selection, jumping through all the recruitment hoops (haven’t even mentioned psychometric testing, group work etc) and at the end of the day the candidate you have selected for one reason or another just doesn’t work out.

When this happens (and it will), don’t beat yourself up. Reflect on your processes, ask yourself is there anything you could have done differently and then move on. I’ve worked in the industry long enough to know that we are just not going to get it right 100 per cent of the time and, at the end of the day, if we have done our absolute best then we acknowledge that on this occasion it hasn’t worked out, we use it as a learning experience and move on with the job in hand. Good luck!


About the author
Susie Anderson-Sharkey has worked in various capacities in the dental industry since 1991 and has been practice manager at Dental fx since 2006.

Tags: Hire / recruitment / Susie Anderson-Sharkey

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