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What You Should Be Asking Yourself When Hiring A New Team Member

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When hiring a new employee, there is so much to consider. Compensation, benefits, training…, the list goes on. These thoughts can be quite overwhelming. Let’s dissect the typical hiring process and dive a little deeper into the questions you should be asking yourself when hiring a new employee.

Qualifications vs. What Really Matters

So, you have a position to fill. You advertise it a bit and you end up with a stack of applications. You may peruse them and decide on a handful of “qualified” candidates that you consider calling. Then, once you get them on the phone, you ask them a series of questions to determine whether you invite them to meet in person. Through all of this, you are deciding if this person is “qualified” to work in your practice. Here is where that thought process should shift.

Instead of asking questions to determine if this person “qualified”, you NEED to be asking them questions to determine if they can be trained.

An important thing to remember is that being “qualified” isn’t everything. You need to interview for personality, willingness to learn, and previous performance.


Personality is a big one. That is something you really can’t train. While we are at it, would you really want to train someone to have a different personality? The time and effort that goes into training procedures, patient care, products and pricing, and general office flow is enough for anyone without adding the training of people skills to that list.

AdobeStock 86207318 African American Woman interview

Another place that personality comes into play is with your existing staff. Creating a workplace culture that is effective and harmonious is a challenge in any office. So, you have to carefully consider who you are introducing into that delicate balance.

As you converse with this potential hire, ask yourself some questions. Am I enjoying this conversation? Trust your instinct. If you enjoy talking with this person, it’s likely that others will too. Will this person improve my team or bring them down? When you are adding someone to your staff, it is important to make sure you are not just considering whether they will “get along” with your current employees, but rather, will they enhance my team? The hiring and training process is a huge task for anyone, but the goal is to always keep improving your processes and creating memorable patient interactions. Will this person help you achieve that goal or will they help you do what you have been doing?

Pro Tip: Invite the candidate to spend the day in your office and shadow the position that they are applying for. Introduce them to your staff and your patients. See how they interact. Are they naturally kind or do they shy away from conversation? The main thing you are trying to determine, here, is whether they will enhance your office culture. This is a sure fire way to determine personality beyond the one they show you during a short interview.

Willingness to Learn

This is another characteristic that can’t be trained. You may think you have found the perfect candidate because they have years of experience. However, if the person you found is extremely “qualified” but not willing to learn, there will most definitely be battles ahead with your existing staff, with your management, and even with you.

We all know how hard it can be to train a new employee in the optometry field. It is extremely specialized. It is the only medical field with a fashion component mixed into it. Explaining to a new person the difference between medical and vision insurance alone is enough for anyone, but then you add the art of adjusting glasses, styling a patient, billing insurance, pre-testing a patient, taking a retinal photograph? These are all very specialized skills. So, the idea of a person coming to you with experience might be pretty tempting.

However, before you jump all over this opportunity, you have to find out if this person wants to learn anything new? In optometry, each practice has its similarities, but they definitely have their differences. You really want to ensure that the person joining the ranks will not only bring their experience to you, but adopt your practices and procedures as well.

AdobeStock 119578550 man reading a book

Pro Tip 2: Ask the candidate to explain a time where they learned and implemented a new procedure. How did they feel about it? Ask them how it was brought to them? Was it their idea? Their boss’s idea? Listening to how they explain this process and how they speak about their previous employer can be very telling.

Previous Performance

It may be a bit harder to get a clear picture of a person’s previous performance if you have just met them. Anyone can be nice and talk about how “hard-working” they are for twenty minutes during an interview. The key, here, is to ask them how they handle specific situations.

One thing you can do is REALLY check into their references. It’s not just coincidence that movies exaggerate how applicants tend to embellish on their resume. So, take that time to make those phone calls. Verify employment history and ask the most revealing question of all: Would you hire this person again? If the answer is no, that may be all you need to know.

The Right Employee.

Finding a person who has a great personality, is willing to learn, and has raving reviews from a previous employer may seem like finding a needle in a haystack. Remember, those people are out there and who you surround yourself with is very important. “One of the most important decisions we make in life is who we choose to be around. In fact, there is an old proverb that reads, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Quite often we become like the people we’re around.” (Forbes, 2013) So, if you want your office to improve, hire accordingly.

“Surround Yourself with the Right People.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 June 2013,