Effective Interview Questions

It’s tough enough to lose someone on your dental team, but then you have the challenging task of interviewing candidates to find the right fit.  How do you know if the person sitting across from you will be a good addition to your team?  While you will never know for sure until the applicant works a while at the practice, you can increase the likelihood of hiring the right person by asking effective interview questions.

Let’s assume you want to hire someone who demonstrates strong attention to detail.  It’s normal to consider asking applicants, “Do you have strong attention to detail?”  Then you just find someone who answers “yes” and you have the next great hire.  Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.


The first problem is the question itself, which is considered a leading question.  This type of yes / no question directs applicants to the very answer you are seeking, and you are given no supporting evidence of how that answer was derived.  Therefore, when you interview, replace all leading questions with open ended questions that invite thoughtful replies and may require thorough explanations.

For example, ask the applicant, “Tell me about two of your daily tasks that require the most attention to detail.” Or, “Take me step by step how you set up an operatory for a surgical extraction.”   Then listen carefully to the response and ask follow up questions as needed.


Other good examples of open ended questions include:

  • What have you found effective for helping a nervous patient?
  • Tell me about an innovative idea you implemented to make a front office system more efficient or effective.
  • How would you explain the sudden need for gum disease treatment—assume isolated areas in two quadrants—to a patient who has come for regular cleanings every six months?

Finding the right fit for your dental team is not an exact science.  However, by asking effective interview questions you go a long way toward selecting someone with the skills you need.

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