4 Essential Soft Skills to Look for When Hiring your Dental Staff

What are soft skills and why are they important? Soft skills aren’t readily apparent on a resume, like technical skills are. They are personal attributes that make up the way a person acts. Although soft skills vary so much from person to person, these skills are critical for professional success. 

According to a study done by The Wall Street Journal, 900 executives were polled and 92% said they valued soft skills equally or more than technical skills when it comes to new employees. Today, we’re laying out 4 essential soft skills to look for when hiring your dental staff.

1. Communication: Your patients deserve the best service, and that comes in the form of optimal communication. You always want patients to feel comfortable at your practice, so make sure your staff is able to communicate appropriately. Part of good communication is also listening, and responding correctly. Your patients need to feel heard when they are expressing concerns or trying to understand something important.

You can determine a candidate’s communication from a few key things at the interview. Do they smile and make eye contact with you? Do they have a positive way of speaking to others that isn’t harsh? Ask them questions about how they interacted with patients and customers at other jobs they’ve had.

2. Teamwork: In a dental practice, a lot of work is done side by side with others. Even tasks that are independent take teamwork in some way. For example, a dental hygienist will perform a cleaning independently, but he/she must rely on the receptionist to schedule cleanings accordingly. Make sure your new hires can work well with others. Nothing is worse for a business than a hostile environment between employees.

When interviewing a potential new employee, ask a few of your current staff members to sit in on a part of the interview and ask a few questions. This can gauge how they will work and interact with each other.

3. Ability to accept constructive criticism: When starting a new position, there is always a learning curve. Also, there is always room for everyone to grow and learn, no matter how good someone is at their job. Employees who can take constructive criticism without being hurt or upset, and use it to perform their job better, are very valuable.

In an interview, ask a candidate about a time they received constructive criticism, and what they did about it.

4. Positive Attitude: It’s important for your dental practice to seek employees with a positive attitude. Your staff should be warm, welcoming, and genuine to patients, no matter what is going on in the background. A positive attitude can help your staff cope under stressful situations and make more rational decisions. Also, as a bonus, positivity can rub off on other employees who are having a bad day!

During an interview, ask a candidate how they responded to a stressful situation. Press them on how they felt during that situation. If they have this trait, chances are they felt angry, tired, or sad, but responded in a way that showed control and a positive attitude.  

Hiring new employees can be tough. You want to trust that your staff will be there for your patients and your practice. However, it can also be fun to bring new people into your growing practice – as long as they are the right fit. While there are many skills you look for in new staff members, be conscious of these four soft skills when interviewing candidates to ensure you’re making the right hiring decisions.

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