In many ways, the dental community is isolated from the rest of the business world. While the corporate world is encroaching, most practices are still built around the owner who, generally, has little formal business training and may well remember the days when a handshake was enough.
As recruiters, we often start our relationships with dental practices who have recently gone through a frustrating and often messy termination. Unfortunately, the doctors who leave the biggest messes easily find other employment only to leave a similar wake of destruction in their next office. Why is it so easy for these doctors to ruin one practice after another?
Dental Practices, as a group, routinely fail to protect the practice, staff and patients by performing a simple reference check. The importance of reference checking is well-documented in the larger business world. Many articles have been written on the subject, including some very helpful resources.
Simply checking license history is no longer enough. You have the right to ask for references, and you should not settle for personal references. Ask for contact information of previous employers or faculty, if appropriate. Here are some practical steps to help making a reference check call easy, informative and less time consuming.
Confirm the details
Do not be shy to ask how the reference knows the job seeker. Find out how long they have known each other. If the reference is a former employer, ask for dates of employment. Ask what their function was in that position.
Decide what you want to know before you call
When we perform reference checks on behalf of our clients, we ask the reference to rate the job candidate on productivity, the quality of their work, their oral and written expression, their working relationships, their motivation and initiative, and their punctuality and attendance.
Know what he/she does well
Ask the reference what they would consider to be the job seeker’s greatest strengths in the position. Also, ask what the employer’s expectations were and how well the job seeker fulfilled them. Do they work better independently or under direct supervision?
Know where the job seeker could improve
This is a great way to ask for constructive criticism in a way that will not make the reference feel uncomfortable about giving a bad reference. Be sure to ask if the job seeker was open to critique and if progress was made toward improvement.
Would the reference hire or re-hire the job seeker?
This is straight to the point. If you hear “No,” make sure that you know why.
When you finish the reference check, be sure to thank the reference for the time that they spent with you and the information they provided. They may well have just saved you from a bad decision or enabled you to sleep well with the decision you will make.