Practice for profit - Train your pain away!


The interview stage is where we separate the women from the girls, the marrow from the bone, the competent from the inept. This is where we decide who is to receive our largesse and enjoy the not-so-great employment opportunity we offer so magnanimously.

The interview stage is where we separate the women from the girls, the marrow from the bone, the competent from the inept. This is where we decide who is to receive our largesse and enjoy the not-so-great employment opportunity we offer so magnanimously.

It is a three-step process, and woe unto him or her who shortcuts the process.

Step one is the pre-interview.

This is performed by anyone

except the veterinarian.

Veterinarians should limit their involvement to hiring associate veterinarians. Think! Why would the boss want to make a decision on this subject when the co-workers are ready, willing and able to choose whom they feel that they can work with. Most staff wants the least qualified people working with them to make them look greater in the eyes of the boss. That's why you need a good practice manager! Practice managers don't want someone of the inept persuasion that can't keep up their end. In the pre-interview, the prospective applicant is given a tour of the facility and asked to make out an application, determining whether they can actually spell their own names and whether they can answer questions, such as "How are you?" to see whether they have a discernible speaking voice as a minor qualification for the job as receptionist. No real or lurid details here; just test the voice, get the application, and if they pass the more-than-just-a-warm-body test, then move on to the interview proper.

Step two is the interview.

There are two ways to conduct an interview. These are respectively known as ... the old way and the new way. The old way is still good. That is when you get into an 80/20 mode. You listen 80 percent of the time and ask questions the other 20 percent of the time. The interviewer, again,

not the veterinarian

, asks the same questions of every applicant in an attempt to solicit comparable responses. The good questions to ask are ...

1. What pets do you have?

2. Have they had any health problems?

3. How were you treated at the animal hospital?

4. What didn't they do enough of?

5. Other than fees, what do you think they do too much of?

6. Why would you want to work for us?

7. Can you work weekends?

8. Have you ever been in sales? Tell me about it?

9. Have you ever played on a team? Tell me about it!

and last and indeed best, of course, my favorite ... the one question that saves you from asking all the questions you are prohibited by law from asking.

10. We always call former employers. Will they say anything that might create a problem in our hiring you?

The other way to interview is considered "the new way!" Infinitely better, very exciting, and the least expensive, most comprehensive technology you may ever experience. To begin the selection process of weeding out the comic book readers, put all of the above questions into your hospital computer's word processing system and let them loose at the keyboard. Let the computer ask about their past work experience and education. Then a few dozen other questions are assembled and Voila! You now have a modicum of intelligent replies, a sorta-kinda personality profile of the applicant while showing you his or her experience, real or imagined, and his or her ease at the computer.

Then, of course, there is step three:

CUTTKOTCH is an acronym for a Clear Understanding That This Kind Of Thing Can Happen! It comes from the King and I. Well, kings, haven't you hired people only to have them leave after only a week on the job? Step three says ... "I want to offer you an opportunity to spend a half day observing the kind of job you will be doing. It's important that you see the whole spectrum of great and not-so-great aspects of the position. We want you to be sure that this is what you are going to be happy doing. There is no pay for the four hours, and I will understand if you do not want to do this, and it will not influence my decision if you decline this opportunity." (Do you believe this stuff?)

In four hours, you get a much better idea of the human being you are hitching your practice wagon and your client relations to. Think of all the times you screwed up by hiring in a hurry just to get a warm body to answer those darn phones. It was a mistake 90 percent of the time, wasn't it?

Truth hurts ... but, admit it: once we find a gem in the garbage, we are often too busy coping with day-to-day chaos to do much training!

Remember, hiring is the first stage only. Someone has to be delegated to train. First, pin on a nametag that says "I'm a trainee; Be Kind To Me." The trainer, the overburdened receptionist working a double shift and now getting overtime, must try to train the new staff member between phone calls and between accidental (really intentional on the part of the dog) poopies in reception. Get Real! Buy a training program from Animal Care Training (800-357-3182) or Lifelearn (800-375-7994). Set the newly hired receptionist down at the terminal and learn through the power of the tube, followed by a quiz provided by the video producers on just what a receptionist is supposed and not supposed to do. Phone skills, appointment skills, admitting, discharging ... hundreds of basic points can be learned without taking your existing staff away from their duties.

Dr. Snyder, a well-known consultant, publishes Veterinary Productivity, a newsletter for practice productivity and is available for in-practice consultation. He can be reached at 2895 SW Bear Paw Trail, Palm City, FL 34990; (800) 292-7995;; Fax (772) 220-4355.

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