Dental team cleaning patient's teeth

Common Dental Staff Hiring Mistakes To Avoid

Let’s face it –  hiring new dental staff members can be a stressful experience. 

It’s important to find that perfect match for your team and office, placing plenty of pressure on you.

Will your new recruit have enough experience? Will they get along with the rest of your team? Are they really as reliable as they claim?

When you’re under pressure to fill a role as quickly as possible, it’s easy to make a few common mistakes.

But, by entering the process with the right mindset, you’ll know you hired the right candidate for the job.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes dentists make when hiring new dental staff members, and how you can avoid them.

Not Being Clear about expectations of your dental staff

When hiring a new employee, it’s easy to focus on what they have to offer.

Sure, you want them to work hard and dedicate themselves towards your business, but what do you look for specifically?

It’s easy to get caught up in generalities like ‘hard work’ and ‘dedication’. But, before you begin searching, it’s more important know the specifics of  what you’re looking for.

Not only do vague job listings tend to receive fewer applications, the people who apply won’t necessarily suit your needs. You’ll end up wasting time sorting through applicants who have no business becoming a member of your dental staff.

Before you begin your search, write down a list of qualities you look for in your dental team. Then, rank them in order of importance.

Maybe the top three are non-negotiable, or maybe you only have a single trait as an absolute must.

Once you know what you’re looking for, consider the expectations of your staff members.

What type of person would get along well with them? After all, the rest of your team needs to depend on them, too.

Lastly, consider the current abilities and future potential of the applicant.

Sure, we’d all like to hire someone with a decade of experience and complete, extensive knowledge, but that’s not always an option.

Never rule a potential employee out due solely to inexperience. Remember, everyone had to learn at some point, including yourself.

Here, ensure you differentiate between current capability and capability potential.

Is the candidate teachable? Are they continuing their education in some form? Do they appear driven to grow and improve in the industry? Will they respond well to feedback you and your coworkers offer? 

All of these factors come into play when hiring dental staff members.

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Creating Poor Job Postings

Always remember: hiring is a two-way process.

While your candidates will be selling themselves to you, you’ll also be selling your business to them.

If your job posting doesn’t capture attention or make the position sound rewarding, then you won’t see many applicants.

To this end, ensure your description realistic and achievable – not a never-ending list of complex responsibilities.

Lengthy & intense list of absolute requirements, tends to drive people away with tremendous potential. For example, a detailed list of 40 expected responsibilities is sure to chase away nearly any job seeker.

And, just because someone doesn’t know how to do one thing on a list of ten requirements, doesn’t mean they can’t learn. Choose which ‘must know’ skills to focus on, and which ones you can teach on the job.

If you don’t know where to start, look at similar dental staff job listings. Does one offer stand out among others? If so, can you try something similar?

Similarly, if you notice a particularly bad job posting (and you’ll know one when you see it), avoid making those same mistakes.

When it comes to creating your post, don’t be afraid of a little trial and error, either. Sometimes, it’s the only way to improve.

You might even want to write two different posts – a more generalized job listing, and a more detailed one, and see which one receives the most traction.

When it comes to selling yourself to applicants, be honest, reasonable, and conversational.

Posting your dental team ad in the wrong places.

Once you have your job posting written, be strategic about where you share it.

First, consider using some of the major employment websites. Sites like,, ZipRecruiter, and similar platforms remain some of the first places job-seekers head to when looking for a position.

But, don’t be afraid to post elsewhere, either. The more eyes you get on your listing, the better your odds of finding and hiring the perfect dental staff candidate.

If you have active social media platforms, like Facebook or LinkedIn, utilize those, as well.

You never know where your next hire will come from, and not everyone ready for a new job actively seeks it. If your job listing happens to come across their Facebook feed, you might just spark their curiosity.

Most professionals eager to grow and willing to consider new opportunities when they present themselves – even if they’re unexpected.

When sharing your ad, consider the geographical location in which you want your next dental staff member to live.

If you want to hire an active member of the community you serve, you might set your requirements to live within around 15 miles of your office.

Or, if you’re open to hiring someone from a different area to bring a diverse skill set and a new mindset, consider expanding your location settings. Of course, if your office resides in a rural, sparsely populated area, you might not have much choice here.

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Dentists Screen New Hires for the wrong thing

While in the pre-digital age, dentists focused almost entirely on a resume, that’s no longer the case today.

Now, relying solely on these self-written descriptions can lead to missed opportunities.

In reality, there’s little correlation between dental knowledge & skills and how well they write a resume.

Don’t dismiss candidates just because their resume doesn’t stand out. Instead, scanning them for red flags makes a much better option.

When hiring a new member of your dental team, use resumes as a way to choose not to hire, rather than the other way around.

For example, if you find a resume lacking any dental experience (for a position that absolutely requires it), screen them out of the hiring process. Or, if you notice sloppiness or a major lack of professionalism, eliminate that one, as well.

As for everyone else, consider revisiting their resume. Remember: it’s okay to cast a broad net when hiring.

Of course, words on a page can only provide so much information. Beyond the resume, you can usually learn a lot about someone by simply giving them a call.

Does you connect with one candidate almost immediately? If so, they might fit perfectly with you and your dental team. Does another candidate turn you off right away? Trust your instincts and move on from them.

Once you have some candidates selected and ready to move on to the interviewing process, go in with a plan.

Similar to how you started the process, know what you expect to gain from the interview.

Are you looking for someone with absolute professionalism and business mentality? Or, maybe you’re looking for someone with a more lighthearted, friendly attitude?

Often, different personality traits do well in the various roles of a dental office.

Factor in the pros and cons of your interviewees, and remain fair to both them and yourself.

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Dentists Settle for mediocre dental staff hires

Running your dental off takes a lot of work. And, when you’re short staffed, stress levels start rising.

When you’re looking to hire, it’s easy to feel pressured to fill the position as quickly as possible.

But, never let that pressure steer you into hiring just for the sake of filling the role.

Sure, you might end up waiting a few more weeks. And yes, you and your staff might end up working more than you’d like.

But, it’s a temporary discomfort for a long-term gain.

With any luck, your new hire will work alongside you and your team for years to come. Wouldn’t you rather they be the right fit?

It’s far more frustrating to hire someone who’s not a good fit than waiting for the right candidate.

After the hire

You’ve posted your job, sifted through resumes, sat through interviews, and now, you’ve found your new team member.

Once you hire a new candidate, it’s time to get to know them. In a close-knit dental office, you need to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses.

There’s nothing wrong with working with new hires one-on-one and watching how they perform.

Lay out your expectations early, and correct any poor habits as soon as possible. It’s always easier to establish correct procedures early than fixing wrong ones down the road.

As you continue learning about them, decide if they’ll succeed – or create unanticipated problems. If problems arise early on, cut ties before it’s too late.

The longer you let problems go, the harder fixing them becomes.

Of course, being skeptical and being untrusting are two different things. Be realistic and fair in giving your new hire a chance.

Bringing it together

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind of a busy dental practice. And, it’s even more stressful when you’re short-staffed and need extra help.

But, while you might regret hiring the wrong candidate quickly, you’ll never regret getting it right. That’s why it’s always worth investing the time to find your next team member.

The next time you find your practice in need of a new employee, remember a few of the basics.

Turn to some of the major job-promoting websites, and use your social media accounts as well.

Decide which skills you absolutely need immediately and which ones you can do without (for now). Be realistic in your expectations, and don’t fear hiring a newcomer to the industry – especially if they’re the sort that’s eager and willing to learn.

A proactive approach, along with a well-defined plan, gives you the best chance to land a great new addition to your team.




About First Choice Dental Lab

First Choice Dental Lab is a full-service dental lab with locations in Downers Grove, Il. & Wauwatosa, Wi.

We manufacture & customize quality dental restorations for general dentists. We create smiles based on your needs and budget.

We’re here to help you give your patients a reason to smile!

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