Conduct a productive job interview by Marc H. Sencer, MD

Chiro Biz Quiz: Conduct a productive job interview

By Marc H. Sencer, MD

Getting and retaining the right personnel is vital to the success of your practice.

Knowing how to structure and conduct a job interview will help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

While first impressions and appearances are important, you must look beyond those to determine if an applicant will be right for the open position. Studies have shown that first impressions can be deceiving and are often colored by your own preconceptions. And keep in mind that certain jobs do not involve patient contact so appearance would not be of paramount importance.

Consider the below items before conducting your interviews.

1. Structure the interview ahead of time. Start by studying the resume. Look for gaps and things that don’t make logical sense.

For example: A job history with gaps explained by multiple illnesses or family emergencies is highly suspect. Make notes about such items and prepare questions accordingly.

2. Be careful to observe legalities. Having applicants sign a statement stating that all information on the resume or job application is true is a good idea. If you later find out the applicant lied on those documents, you may avoid potential legal hassles.

Also, keep in mind that during the interview process you may not ask about marital status, disability, and other things. There are, however, ways to get the information you need. Be sure to seek legal advice if in doubt.

3. Avoid personal questions. Do you really care if the applicant likes the same kind of music as you? Remember, you are not looking for a friend; you are trying to find the best person for the job.

4. Maintain control of the interview. By structuring the interview, you will get the information you need and avoid possible manipulation by the applicant. Manipulation often takes one of three forms:

• The applicant will answer a behavioral question tangentially and then go on to tell you his or her best qualities;

• The applicant will filibuster, meaning he or she will continue to talk, hoping you will forget the question; or

• The applicant will attempt to reverse roles in the interview, and will try to get you to defend and justify the job.

The best way to avoid losing control is to stay focused. Any time the applicant strays from your agenda, bring him or her back.

For example: You can say to the applicant, “I am sure there is a good story there, but right now please focus on my question.” Repeat the question each time the applicant strays.

5. Don’t be shy about questioning the resume. Be pleasant and nonthreatening, and you will get more information. You should get the answers you need to picture a logical job history that flows and makes sense.

It is often helpful to go chronologically through the resume. Pay attention to what he or she says and observe the body language.

6. Ask behavioral questions. These are questions about the applicant’s behavior in past situations. [ITAL] For example: [/ITAL] “How did you handle firing the bookkeeper at your last job?”

7. Use hypotheticals. Show a potential collections person some EOBs and ask how he or she would handle the collection of these claims. Look for discrepancies in how an applicant states he handled a past situation vs. how he handles a similar hypothetical.

8. Don’t overdiscuss salary and benefits. Discussing this information is certainly appropriate, but do not let the interview disintegrate into a negotiation. The purpose of this interview is to determine if the applicant has the qualifications and will be a good fit. You can always call for a second interview to further discuss details.

Simply respond to attempts to negotiate by saying, “I will consider what you have said and get back with you when the interviews have been completed.”

If you follow these guidelines and structure your interviews carefully, you will be rewarded with quality employees who will keep your practice running smoothly and efficiently.

Marc H. Sencer, MD, is the president of MDs for DCs, which provides intensive one-on-one training, medical staffing, and ongoing practice management support to chiropractic integrated practices. He can be reached at 800-916-1462 or through

Test yourself

Test your knowledge about conducting effective job interviews with this true and false quiz.

[ ] 1. First impressions and appearance are always the most important characteristics in evaluating a job applicant.

[ ] 2. Hypotheticals are more important than behavioral questions.

[ ] 3. During the job interview negotiation of salary is vital.

[ ] 4. It is often helpful to review the resume chronologically with the applicant.

Answers: No. 4 is the only true answer.

No. 1, 2, and 3 are false. First impressions are often colored by our preconceptions and prejudices. For jobs that do not involve patient contact, such as billing and collections, the skill set is more important than appearance.

Behavioral and hypothetical questions are equally important and should be part of your structured interview. Lastly, the interview should not turn into a salary negotiation. This will distract you from your goal of finding the most qualified applicant.