Article Date: 10/1/2011

What Matters Most
fix this practice

What Matters Most

When it comes to hiring, experience is good but it's not always mandatory

Richard S. Kattouf, O.D., D.O.S.

Q As a 20-year private practicing optometrist, I've experienced a “merry-go-round” of employees. Those with prior experience are resistant to adapting and changing to my model and delivery of eyecare. In a busy practice like mine, what's the answer/solution to this situation? How do you train those with no experience?

Dr. J.L. Laker
Via e-mail

A: It's important my readers understand that, in the allied health professions, the average employee stays for 2 years or less. Our society is very transient. A boyfriend or girlfriend moves to Idaho and the partner follows. Divorces and single parenting also complicate the employee's longevity.

The key question is this: Do we pursue those applicants who have relevant experience or do we choose a person who has the right personality, then train him well to make up for his lack of experience?

The good and the bad

When it comes to hiring, there's no easy answer. The charts in this article should help you evaluate the pros and cons associated with both options. Review them and decide which avenue is right for you and your practice.

Evaluating experience

When you're seeking to hire someone with experience, I recommend you follow these four steps:

► 1. Review application and résumé. Beware of “jumpers,” ie, an employee who spends only a few months at each position.

► 2. Conduct a telephone interview to get to know the applicant. There should be no discussion of compensation or duties. Ask questions based on his résumé. Evaluate the candidate's phone voice and grammar. Is it a voice you want representing your practice?

► 3. If he's had optical experience, I recommend an optician questionnaire. Most job candidates over-state their skills. Kattouf Consulting Services has developed a short list to help you objectively evaluate skills.

We also ask candidates to complete an interview questionnaire, which helps to evaluate their handwriting, spelling and ability to write complete statements. Prospective hires should complete all of these items while in the office.

► 4. Invite two or three of the best candidates to come in for a private interview.

No method is foolproof, but these steps have proven to be fairly reliable.



Take your time

Eyecare professionals usually have no hiring methods. The “seat of the pants” philosophy is rampant. Doctors hire in desperation and it usually leads to a bad choice and overpayment. Better to be shortstaffed for a bit as you conduct a complete review of your needs and a thorough search to identify the right person for the job. OM

You can make more friends in 2 months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in 2 years by trying to get people interested in you.

—DALE CARNEGIE

As your patient demographic continues to change and age, we at Optometric Management believe much can be learned from Carnegie's quote. By taking a greater interest in your patients, addressing their growing list of healthcare issues and marketing your skills to better meet their needs, your practice can thrive despite the challenging economy. This special issue of Optometric Management provides information to help you understand and succeed in this changing landscape. Here, you can read about:

► Meeting the demands of an aging population

► Healthcare reform: opportunities & risks

► EHR considerations for today's OD

► New developments in contact lens care

► Growing your contact lens practice

► Providing value to boost your business


DR. KATTOUF IS PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF TWO MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING COMPANIES. FOR INFORMATION, CALL (800) 745-EYES, OR E-MAIL HIM AT ADVANCEDEYECARE@HOTMAIL.COM. THE INFORMATION IN THIS COLUMN IS BASED ON ACTUAL CONSULTING FILES.

Optometric Management, Issue: October 2011