The Pitfalls of “Working Interviews” for Dental Associates and Practice Owners

Feb 19, 2024

The Pitfalls of “Working Interviews” for Dental Associates and Practice Owners

In the world of dentistry, finding the right associate to join your practice is a crucial decision that can impact the success and reputation of your business.

Many practices opt to conduct "working interviews" as part of the hiring process to evaluate a potential associate's clinical skills and fit within the team. However, despite their popularity, working interviews come with significant legal and ethical risks that practice owners should be aware of.

First and foremost, it's essential to understand that employment laws view working interviews as employment, meaning that the associate must be compensated appropriately for their time. Failure to do so can lead to employment claims for unpaid wages if the candidate is not ultimately hired. This legal consideration should prompt practice owners to reconsider the use of working interviews in their hiring process.

Ask Yourself...

Additionally, there is a critical issue of patient safety and liability to consider. Ask yourself, "If I don't trust this candidate enough to hire them just yet, why should my patients be their test subjects?" Before allowing a young doctor to treat patients in your practice, it is imperative to confirm that they have malpractice coverage in place. Furthermore, practice owners should ensure that their own malpractice policy will protect them in the event that the associate is negligent.

What's an alternative to working interviews?

Rather than putting patients at risk and potentially exposing your practice to legal liabilities, consider having the candidate shadow you for a day or two instead. During this time, you can still assess their proficiency in diagnosing and treatment planning hypothetical cases, interpreting radiographs, and educating patients on oral hygiene practices and preventive care.

Moreover, presenting hypothetical situations can help gauge the candidate's ethical decision-making skills. Observing their interactions with assistants, hygienists, and administrative staff will also provide valuable insights into their professionalism and ability to work as part of a team.

In conclusion, while working interviews may seem like a convenient way to evaluate a potential associate's clinical skills, they pose significant legal and ethical risks for dental practice owners. By opting for alternative evaluation methods, such as shadowing, practice owners can protect their patients, their practice, and themselves from potential harm and liability. Remember, patient safety should always be the top priority in the hiring process.

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