Article Date: 9/1/2002

staffing solutions
What You See Isn't What You Get
Try these tested interview questions to help you hire the right people.

Many of today's job applicants have done their homework and are primed for the standard interview questions with well thought out answers that often make them sound more qualified than they really are.

When the deception works, you hire them. It's only after you spend considerable time and money on the break-in period that you discover the mistake.

One way to avoid such deception is to use interview questions for which a job applicant is less likely to have "stock" answers.

Here's a sampling of questions that may elicit honest, unrehearsed answers and reveal something about a job applicant's motivation, values and job-related needs.

Searching for the truth

Ask the following questions to determine if a person who has the right job skills and experience is right for your practice.

Which aspects of your last job did you like best? It's difficult for an applicant to know the best answer to that question, let alone the one that will most impress you. If he's honest, he may say "Clinical procedures," or "Patient education," or "Computer-related tasks," or something else that's ideal (or less than ideal) for your practice.

Which aspects of your last job did you like least? Again, it's difficult for anyone to guess what you're looking for. The candidate might say, "Asking patients for money," or "Overtime," or "Dispensing," or "Filing insurance claims," or something else that would rule them out for the job.

At your last job, in what accomplishments did you take the most pride? The answer (or lack of one) can reveal a person's motivation, initiative and work ethic.

Tell me about the best boss you ever had. The answer might indicate whether or not the person would fit well into your practice.

Tell me about the worst boss you ever had. The answer (like that to the previous question) can be revealing. Examples: "He was a neat freak" or "tight wad," or "He criticized me in public."

Tip: To draw applicants out on these questions, use follow-up probes such as: "That's interesting. Tell me about it."

Which job-related situations have you found most stressful? The answer may give you insight into the applicant's tolerance for stress. If appropriate, a follow-up question might be: "What methods have you found effective in dealing with such stress?"

What do you consider your greatest strengths? Don't be modest. Good answers might include, "I love old people;" "I'm great with kids;" "I learn quickly;" "I speak three languages;" or "I have infinite patience."

Have you ever seen an optometric assistant show poor judgment? If so, tell me about it. I've heard job applicants recall, for example, how ineptly optometric personnel dealt with phone shoppers, apprehensive patients and requests for overtime.

Their answers and the way they expressed them revealed a lot about their values and desirability as employees.

How would you handle a telephone call from an irate patient (or some other everyday, potentially "touchy" situation)? The answer in this case is less important than whether or not the person can think on his or her feet.

Do you prefer a job in which you're given a lot of responsibility or one that's highly structured with more supervision? Most people have a preference. And the more closely your management style matches the need of a prospective employee, the happier you'll both be in the working environment.

Tip of the iceberg

These questions are only the beginning of a hiring process that goes beyond the resume, hype and answers to standard interview questions. I hope they'll help in your quest for the right people for your practice.



Optometric Management, Issue: September 2002