Improving Veterinary Practice Value at the Employee Hiring Stage

Stethoscope on top of money

Jim Connelly, CEO and Founder of Org Ex, uses the science of human behavior to assist business owners with their hiring decisions. Mr. Connelly has conducted over 2,000 behavior-based interviews which are interviews designed to predict the future behavior of an applicant based on their past behavior. The interview techniques are commonly used by human resource personnel for hiring decisions and are based on behavioral science.

Behavior-based interviews can help identify above-average employees. Employees who are above average performers add 3 to 5 times more return on investment than average performers according to Mr. Connelly.

Filtering out the peak performers from the average performers in a job interview can provide practice owners with higher profits and higher practice value.

Front Office Personnel – An Example:

Front office personnel are the face and the foundation of a successful practice and influence all aspects of our business. They are responsible for new client acquisitions and share responsibility for client retention and client loss. The front office client care team is required to be compassionate when clients need emotional support, yet firm when payment is due.  They are a full-service sales force involved in all aspects of the sales cycle from prospecting leads to closing the sale. Organization skills and the ability to work with others are paramount.

Outsourcing your important hiring decisions is an option; but not always feasible. The following behavioral-based interview questions, structured around the job requirements, will assist you in choosing the right individual to represent your practice and add value long-term.

Client Service and Communication Skills

  • Describe a time when you exceeded a client’s expectations. What did you do specifically? Why did you do it? How could you tell you exceeded the client’s expectations?
  • Describe a time when you dealt with a client who was upset at the price of a product or service. How did you feel when this was happening? How did you respond? Is there anything you would do differently now?
  • Can you provide an example of a time when you experienced a demanding client? How did you handle the client? What was the outcome?
  • From previous experiences, describe a time when there was a miscommunication involving you and a client or a colleague. How did you deal with the miscommunication? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you had to communicate bad news to someone. What did you do and what did you say? Is there anything you would do differently now?
  • Describe a time when you had to communicate with someone you didn’t particularly like. What was the situation? What did you say?

Sales Skills

  • Can you provide an example of a time when you successfully persuaded an individual to your point of view?  What did you say exactly?
  • Provide an example of a time when you developed an idea at work to solve a problem.  How did you go about convincing your employer or fellow employees this was a good idea?  What was the outcome? Were you successful?

Ability to Learn

  • Working in a veterinary practice requires you learn a significant amount of new terminology. Describe a situation where you had to digest a lot of information in a short period of time. What did you do to learn the information? How did you know you were successful at learning the information?
  • What techniques have you learned on the job to make your duties more effective or easier?
  • Describe a time when you had to learn a new computer program. What steps did you take to own the information?

Team Player

  • Provide an example of a time you had to work with a fellow employee who was not pulling his weight. What did you do about the situation?
  • Have you worked with an effective team before? How did you specifically contribute to the team’s effectiveness? Have you worked with a team that did not function as a team? What was your response to the dysfunctional team?

Organizational Skills and Working Under Pressure

  • Describe an experience from the past requiring you to use your organization skills.
  • Provide an example of a time when you were presented with several tasks to perform at the same time. Which task(s) did you prioritize and why?
  • What is the most stressful situation you have encountered in a working environment? What was your response?
  • Provide an example of a time when you had too much to do and too little time to do it. How did you cope?

Allow the candidate some time to respond to the initial question or task. After their initial response, ask probing questions to encourage a more detailed response. If their answers sound rehearsed, ask for another example.

Remember, a job candidate’s past behavior is a strong predictor of their future behavior. What candidate demonstrates above-average past performance leading to above-average future performance at your practice? Peak performers will contribute to a higher return on investment for your practice and a higher practice value.

Elizabeth Bellavance DVM MBA, Certified Exit Planning Advisor, Simmons & Associates Canada

Originally Published in Canadian Vet Magazine Sept/Oct 2012
Updated May 15, 2017 for Simmons & Associates