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Ep. #429: How to Find & Hire Great Team Members, w/Dr. Susan Thompson

As a dentist, you wear many hats in your practice. But there’s one you can let go of — hiring. There’s a better way to hire than you being the one to do it, and Kirk Behrendt brings in Dr. Susan Thompson to share how. You don’t need to do everything! And when you involve your team, they can help you hire great people. To learn the secret to finding and hiring the best team members for your practice, listen to Episode 429 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • Weed people out very early in the process.
  • Core values are critical for hiring great people.
  • Let your team leaders do the hiring for you.
  • Don’t micromanage everything in your practice.
  • Hire for personality — it can’t be taught.


  • “It used to be that I did the hiring and took the lead on it, no matter the position and the department. I was really frustrated with that, and we had a — I can’t take credit for the idea — sweet, retired dentist who helps out when we’re out of town who was filling in one day, and I stopped by the office to do some paperwork and mentioned it to him. And he said, ‘Oh, I never did that at the end.’ I was like, ‘Well, then who hired people?’ He was like, ‘Oh, I let [my team] hire. They have to work with them. Let them hire them.’ And I was like, ‘That’s genius!’” (4:39—5:10)
  • “My whole front desk has been hired by Erin, who’s the director of that department. And they all think that she’s the boss. And so, they go to her with everything. If they are sick, they call her. They don’t call me. And they really see her as authority in a way, I think, that they wouldn’t have if I hired them and said, ‘Oh, but Erin’s in charge.’ So, I think that’s been really good. And the same thing in the operative department. Gena, my assistant, has hired a couple of assistants now, and same sort of attitude. They truly see her as a leader, I think, much more than they would have if Ben and I had interviewed them and hired them, and then said, ‘Oh, by the way, do what she says.’” (6:31—7:15)
  • “One thing we’ve seen — I’m sure every practice has over the years — we have had some people that were incredible at their job. Particularly, one time we had an assistant that was phenomenal — just so good. Ben and I didn’t know, but she was toxic for the team. And that’s an interaction that doesn’t include us. And so, for them to be able to meet these people and see if they’re going to be good at their job, but also how do they fit into the team, and to the dynamics of things beyond the doctor-employee relationship, has been really valuable.” (7:33—8:05)
  • “We’ve definitely had some COVID-19 failures. One, we hired that didn’t show up. One that we hired and came — this is my favorite story — worked for a day, said she didn’t think it was for her, and then disappeared before we could pay her. And it took me like six months to pay her for her day of work. So, no, it’s not perfect. But the people that come out of it have been really good. And I don’t feel like in the ones that didn’t work out that I could’ve done any better or foreseen something that they did. It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s so much better than before. I don’t feel like it’s my fault, or I let them down if something doesn’t work out. And I think it helps them learn for the next go around, like, ‘Look at this. Look at that. Ask this question,’ and helps them get even better at it.” (10:44—11:36)
  • “One little trick that I think Chris gave us years ago was, when we put an ad on Indeed, we’ll typically have something in there like, ‘Give us the five reasons why you’re going to be an amazing team member.’ And just weeding out the people who will take the time to answer that question gets rid of most people, and that narrows the field for the people who are actually interested in your job and aren’t just click, click, click, click.” (16:43—17:06)
  • “Personality [is one of the top things to look for in a new employee]. And that’s the thing you can’t teach. So, the warm, welcoming, compassionate — and that goes towards the patient, but also towards team members. We don’t want anybody who’s just here to punch the clock, do their work, and get out. Squad mentality is one of our other core values in addition to ride or die. So, we’re looking for that for the team and for the patients, probably more than anything, because you can’t teach it.” (19:01—19:28)
  • “[Having a great team is the] difference between loving what you do and walking in and feeling like you’ve got 10 people behind you that have your back, or just wanting to bury your head in the sand and cry at the end of the day. It’s a hard job, and it can be an isolating job, in a lot of ways. So, when you have good people around you that take the weight off, it makes a tremendous difference.” (19:56—20:19)
  • “My biggest tendency and mistake that I’ve always made with my team — and I still make with my team — is the tendency to micromanage and get in their business and not stay in my circle like I’m supposed to. And this is one thing that has really been freeing, in a lot of ways. So, the more autonomy that you can give them and trust them to do, and give them the leadership skills to do, you will not regret it. And I do still slip into my micromanaging every now and again, and I get reprimanded. And I try to take that with a little bit of grace. But it is freeing, and it makes your work life a lot easier.” (21:36—22:15)


  • 0:00 Introduction.
  • 2:06 Dr. Thompson’s background.
  • 2:46 The current state of hiring.
  • 4:18 Dr. Thompson’s hiring process.
  • 6:00 Why this is a better way to hire.
  • 8:09 The importance of core values in hiring.
  • 10:18 Roadblocks of letting the team hire.
  • 11:37 Being a great fit beyond the practice.
  • 13:11 Be profitable without crazy hours.
  • 15:06 The hiring process for department leads.
  • 18:46 Top things to look for in new employees.
  • 19:42 The importance of having a great team.
  • 21:25 Last thoughts.

Reach Out to Dr. Susan Thompson:

Dr. Thompson’s Facebook:

Dr. Thompson’s social media: @neisler7

Dr. Susan Thompson Bio:

Dr. Susan Thompson was raised just outside of Charlotte in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, and graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. She attended Washington and Lee University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She then went on to graduate from the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in 2004 with her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

Following dental school, Dr. Thompson worked as an associate in her hometown, where she built upon her education by gaining experience in general dentistry for adults and children.


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