When my husband Tony has his dental practice a usual occurrence was to have candidates for a position do a “working interview.”  We wanted to see how they were in the office, around other staff members and patients, and how they performed the job they would be expected to do.  We never gave it any thought.  At the end of the day, we just paid them a check for the number of hours they were in the office multiplied by the hourly rate we had promised.  There never was any problem.  Now I realize how lucky we were, and how bad it could have been for us!

According to both CEDR HR Solutions and HR for Health, two companies that specialize in HR issues, that can be a dangerous policy in any business.

This can work fine if you are trying out an employee supplied by a temp service.  That is because the candidate is actually an employee of the temp service and they have all of the proper documentation.  If that is not the case, the candidate is actually an employee of your business, but with little or no documentation. If the person is being asked to do work that an employee of your practice would normally do, then all of the required paperwork needs to be filled out including an I-9 form, withholding tax information, HIPPA training, background check, etc.  Without that, there could be a HIPPA violation, a work-related injury, wage and hour violations and much more, but you have no protection.   

According to CEDR, you can protect your practice from these problems by having “behavioral interviews” or having skills tests with no contact with patients or patients’ files.  They would not be considered your employee and there would not be risks as listed above. What a wonderful solution to this problem! Quoting CEDR, “The idea is to build your interview questions around the traits you would like to see in an employee and ask applicants to describe ways in which they have exhibited those traits previously.”  You ask them to describe specific situations that occurred in their previous employment. If you want to see if they can fabricate a temporary crown, have them do it on a model, not on a real patient.  You can have them set up an operatory for a specific procedure on a fictitious patient.  For front desk employees, tests without access to patient files can easily be developed and math tests are important. 

I realize how lucky Tony and I were years ago, and now I advise all of my clients NOT to do “working interviews” without full employee documentation.  Good luck!