A Complete Hiring Blueprint for Clinic Front Desk Workers
What should you look for in the perfect candidate for your clinic’s front office team?
If you’re like many clinic owners, it’s hard to nail down.
Am I hiring a secretarial type person? A sales person? An administrative and operational type of person? And what am I paying this person, exactly?
Maybe all this lack of clarity in your hiring process is why front desk positions have such high turnover.
“Wait, you mean turnover is my fault?” Umm…
In a recent episode of New Patient Secrets, Front Office Guru Dee Bills laid out a front desk hiring blueprint, complete with the best interview questions to ask if you want to find the perfect candidate. And among Dee’s list of questions, she identifies the #1 interview question to ask.
Let’s take a look at Dee’s recommended hiring process. And you can watch the full webinar replay here.
But first, who is Dee Bills? Dee ran a physical therapy clinic with her husband, and at one point they realized their clinic’s survival was under threat, and they needed to do something to turn it around and attract more patients. Dee switched her focus from patient care to front office operations.
By the time she was finished making changes, she had turned the clinic around, going from under 100 patients per week to over 500. Now, Dee works as a coach and consultant, training other clinic owners how to get the most production from their front desk operations, which is where your revenue lives or dies.
Front Desk Hiring Blueprint
Before we get to the interview questions, let’s see how the process is organized and where the questions fit.
Dee believes in hiring slow, and firing fast. You want to find the right person, so you don’t have to fire them and start the process all over.
Her process has three phases:
3) In Person
What she’s looking for is a person who has a proven record of success at another company. Does this person want to learn new skills and develop their abilities? How was this person an asset for their previous boss? That’s what you want to find out. You want someone who gets things done and cares about their professional development without having to be told.
With that framework in mind, let’s get to the best interview questions to ask when hiring for front desk positions.
5 Best Clinical Front Desk Interview Questions
1. Send an Email Test
Once you get to the stage where you can personally interact with them, send the front desk job candidate an email and ask for three items. You can decide what these are. They could be pieces of information related to their records, or a relevant photo – it’s up to you what to ask for.
But the point here is, it can’t be so simple that they can just fire off the answers right there. It needs to be something they have to find or create.
Then, give them a date and time deadline for sending you the three items.
If you have 50 candidates applying for your front desk position, this process will weed out a large portion of them. If they fail to complete the test properly, and by the date and time you specified, they aren’t the right person for the job. Move on to the remaining candidates.
Next, you’ll move to a phone interview, where you’ll ask at least the following three questions.
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2. Why Are You Interested in Working Here?
There isn’t necessarily one ideal answer to this, but what you’re looking for is someone who has an idea and can express it well. Do they communicate clearly? Can they think on their feet? Are they self-reflective? This question will reveal those attributes.
3. Are You Good with Our Pay Structure?
You need to know this person will happily accept whatever salary you can offer. If you pay in part by performance, you need to know if they’re okay with that. If they can’t work for the rate you can pay, there’s no reason to go any further in the interview process. This isn’t about judgment or attitude or anything negative about the person. It’s just not the right fit. Money can’t be a sticking point.
And now, for the very best interview question you can ask a front desk job candidate, according to Dee Bills...
(If you prefer video, check out this video to learn the #1 Front Desk Interview Question)
4. Describe Your Day, from Waking Up Until You Go to Bed
This is Dee’s #1 interview question. Why? Because it reveals whether they think in an orderly way and remember details without having to retrace their steps over and over – essential skills for a front desk person.
A front desk specialist needs to be able to think on their feet, respond to the great variety of queries they will hear from potential patients and existing patients on the phone and in person, and keep a cool head while managing relevant details.
They need to be trainable, seeing tools like call recordings of themselves as learning opportunities, not gotcha moments. They must be able to effectively use tools such as phone scripts for different situations so they can increase your new patient conversion rate and booking rate, and help whittle down your cancellations and no-shows. They need to be able to take constructive criticism in a productive way. Learn how to give constructive criticism they will love you for.
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And so much more. This is not a position for doing laundry and cleaning break rooms.
When you ask this question on the phone, you will immediately be able to tell what kind of thinker this person is, and how organized they are in their mind. This ability isn’t really something you can teach. Some people just have it. This question helps you find those people.
Now, you could also ask all these questions in person if you don’t like phone interviews. But doing this on the phone is faster, and if you have more than just a couple candidates who make it past your email test, doing this round on the phone will save a lot of time, and will lead to your final top tier of hiring candidates.
5. How Well Can They Talk to People?
The front desk team has to talk to a lot of people – on the phone, and in person. And this isn’t casual talk. They often have to talk with people who are nervous, uncertain, in pain, and feeling a variety of emotions. And they have to tell those same people how much money their treatment will cost.
This requires some skill in communication.
How do you assess this ability in an interview?
Dee gives them 30 minutes, and tells them to go out in the clinic’s waiting room and talk with five patients, right there. This is a key component of the in-person interview.
Why the limits? Because you want someone who knows how to converse with people in such a way that they can establish a healthy relationship without babbling on forever. You don’t want someone who rambles off on rabbit trails for 20 minutes. Yes, that one person they’re talking to will feel great after the call, but it’s too inefficient to be a profitable approach.
By making them talk to five people in 30 minutes, you will see how well this person can initiate with strangers, have a good conversation, and then end it.
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Dee gives just three things to say to each person the job candidate speaks with in the waiting room:
1) Hi – I’m interviewing for a job here – can I ask you a few questions?
2) How long have you been coming here?
3) Would you ever consider referring people you know to this clinic? Follow up with why or why not.
Require them to take notes on each conversation so you can see how well they record key information. And that’s it.
Use this hiring process and these interview questions, and the best front desk workers will rise to the top. Want more? How to hire for your front desk in 60 minutes. Watch Dee’s Full Episode of New Patient Secrets
Watch Dee’s Full Episode of New Patient Secrets
Dee’s conversation with Rick Lau touches on much more than the best interview questions to ask when hiring for your front desk. Earlier in the same webinar, she shares her top sales tactics to easily double your caseload without spending more on marketing. You also get the do’s and don’ts of talking to patients, and why most clinics get this wrong. And she shares tips to lower same day cancellations and no-shows.
You’ll also get her phone secrets that are guaranteed to increase your conversions, the biggest mistakes clinics make with their front desk phone training, and how to get team buy-in without overwhelming them.
Watch the full webinar here
Who is Rick Lau and CallHero?
Rick has built three 10 million dollar healthcare businesses over the past 15 years including a network of 127 clinics with over 1400 employees. He is one of the most sought-after mentors for clinic owners in Canada and USA where he helps owners double, triple, and even quadruple their profits by optimizing their clinic operations using his proven systems and leadership strategies. Plus, he has spent over millions in google and facebook ads during his career.
You can follow him on Instagram