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Veterinarian Technician August 2008 (Vol 29, No 8)

Management Matters — Finding the Right Staff

by Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

    An outstanding health care team is the key to a successful clinic. All members of the team have to work together to provide high-quality client service and patient care. Therefore, as a practice manager, one of your most important roles is hiring qualified, team-oriented staff members. The steps below will help guide you in your search for a winning team.

    Create a Job Description

    The first step to hiring a new employee is creating a job description. This should include the position title, a summary of the position, a list of duties and responsibilities, a description of the skills and qualifications needed and the title of the employee's supervisor.a The job description should be specific yet flexible enough to encourage a variety of qualified candidates to apply. Current staff members can help ensure that the job description is accurate and up-to-date, so it's beneficial to ask for their input during this process.

    Advertise the Position

    After you've created the job description, you'll want to ensure that you get the best pool of candidates. When advertising the position, don't overlook qualified candidates within the practice. By allowing current employees to apply for the job before it's advertised to the public, you'll motivate your staff and encourage them to take advantage of the practice's advancement opportunities.

    When advertising the job to the public, you may use a variety of print media, as well as alternative recruitment methods. Your goal should be to reach out to as many qualified applicants as possible.

    Evaluate the Applicants

    Once you begin receiving résumés, you should categorize them based on how well each candidate meets the requirements outlined in the job description. This will allow you to eliminate candidates who don't meet the minimum requirements for the job. When selecting which candidates to interview, also consider the cover letter. It should give you an idea of the candidate's professionalism, ability to communicate and interest in the position.

    Conduct Interviews

    After you've selected the applicants who meet the qualifications for the position, begin the interview process. You may find it easier to conduct interviews in the following stages:

    • Contact the candidate by phone. It is help­ful to schedule a short phone interview with each candidate. During the interview, pay attention to the individual's enthusiasm, response to your questions and profes­sionalism while speaking.
    • Conduct a face-to-face interview. Can­didates who im­press you during the phone inter­view can be asked to come to the clinic for a more in-depth inter­view. Dur­ing this interview, be sure to inform each candidate of the mission and core values of the practice. While you're describing the require­ments of the position, ask candidates to explain how their skills and experi­ence make them quali­fied for the job. Also ask candidates open-ended ques­tions about difficult situations that they have faced in previous jobs and how they resolved them.b It is important to consider not only how candidates answer all the ques­tions but also whether they make eye contact and communicate in a pro­fessional manner.
    • Arrange a working interview. When you've narrowed down your choice to a few candi­dates, you may want to schedule working inter­views with each of them. Conducting a working interview allows you to confirm that a candidate has the skills required for the position, is able to learn quickly and interacts well with other team members. If you choose not to have a working interview, consider inviting each candidate to spend a few hours interacting with and observing the current staff.

    Weigh Your Options

    When making a hiring decision, consider how well each candidate met your expectations throughout the interview process. You also may conduct reference checks to verify a candidate's education and experience. Encourage current staff members to offer input, based on their interactions with the candidates.


    It is important not to rush into a hiring decision. By carefully considering your choice, you'll be more likely to select a team member who contributes to your clinic's success.

    aFor more information on job descriptions, see "Crea­ting Accurate Job Descriptions" in our April 2007 issue.

    bFor more information on interview questions, see "How to Avoid Asking Illegal Questions During an Interview" in our February 2008 issue.

    NEXT: Morris Animal Foundation Launches Canine Cancer Web Presentation


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