There is a lot of truth to the old adage that the secret to being a great manager is placing people in a position in which they can succeed. If you accept this idea, then it immediately becomes apparent that the recruitment process is one of the most important (perhaps the most important) steps in building a successful organization. Here’s a look at the steps behind building a first-class team for a hearing care office.

In the best-selling book, First, Break All the Rules,1 authors Buckingham & Coffman from the Gallup organization assert that great managers do four activities extremely well when building a high-performance team: select a person, set proper expectations, motivate, and develop. Their research (in-depth interviews with over 80,000 managers in more than 400 companies) supports the findings of Objective Management Group,2 a consulting company in Worchester, MA, which concludes that a top manager who is responsible for at least 8 revenue-producing people in a growing organization will focus 80% of their time on the following activities: recruiting, accountability, motivation, and coaching.

Since selecting a dispensing professional who contributes revenue to the bottom line of the practice is a concern managers wrestle with, it seems reasonable to evaluate this issue in greater depth. From personal experience, many of us know that hiring the wrong person is a major expense —lost productivity, lost patients, lost opportunities, combined with the additional costs of recruiting and training. In most cases, it is also detrimental to the person who was hired to do a job that he/she now finds difficult (at best) to keep. And, in a small practice, a wrong hire can deplete financial resources more quickly than almost any other mistake.

Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that hiring the right dispensing professional or staff member an essential foundation to any successful office/practice. It builds a successful practice that generates the revenue and margins needed to continually provide exceptional service to patients. Therefore, a comprehensive recruiting process with well-defined steps that allow you to seek out and find top performers is a necessity.

After significant research and practical experience, Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group designed the chart in Table 1 that illustrates the importance of each step in the recruiting process. The right-hand column outlines the importance of each step as opposed to the left-hand column which lists the recommended sequence for each step.

TABLE 1. The hiring process, according to Kurlan.2 The left-hand column shows the usual sequence of events in the recruitment process, while the right-hand column rates these steps in relative importance.

This article will discuss each step according to its relative importance.

Important Step #1: Identify the “Ideal” Person
Many managers consider the interview the most significant event in the hiring process. Others believe that the search is key. However, Step #1 in any position hiring is to identify clearly who you need to fulfill the position. By far, this step is the most critical. You need to clearly define the attributes and experiences of the ideal candidate that can and will translate into success for your unique business/practice environment. The entire process is only as effective as this often-overlooked step. Not implementing an effective, comprehensive approach to this step reduces the probability that you’ll find a strong dispensing professional, receptionist, office staffer, etc, who will succeed in your practice.

Recently, a manager I work with, “Sarah,” hired a person with a successful track record from a well-established competitor—a perfect hire for propelling her company to the next level. Three months into the working relationship, the excitement had turned into disappointment. Her new star could easily dispense mid-technology hearing instruments to middle-income patients. However, the audiologist had difficulty dispensing high-end technology to upper income patients, the primary patient base of the practice. Sarah had neglected to clearly identify the attributes and experiences of the ideal dispensing professional that would succeed in her unique practice conditions and hire accordingly.

There are many methods for identifying ideal candidates. One highly recommended process is the S.E.A.R.C.H. Matrix, which is one of five excellent and thorough tools used in the Positionalysis™ process.3 This customized hiring process, developed by Midwest Assessments Inc. of Kansas City, reportedly increases the probability of a successful hire to 75% when accompanied by the other standard hiring tools (Figures 1-2). The Matrix identifies desired skills, experience, and attitudes along with expected results, required cognitive skills, and desired habits. A client who recently used this tool as part of a comprehensive Positionalysis™ said, “I’ve never been more confident in making a hire than the hire I’ve made using this disciplined process.”

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Figure 1. When assessing job candidates, utilize all of your resources. The above reflects the cumulative success when employing all the various tools during the hiring process.

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Figure 2. Did the applicant fit the job? The above information from Greenberg & Greenberg4 shows that those managers who used a job matching tool during the hiring process were far less likely to terminate the employment agreement.

Important Steps #2-3: Objective Tests to Assess and Qualify
If the interview isn’t the most important step, it must be the second most important, correct? Leading employment research companies suggest otherwise; objective testing is the second most critical step in the recruiting process. Any candidate can make a positive impression, especially since hearing care professionals in a “caring” profession. However, the ability to create a “warm” environment does not necessarily indicate the ability to assist in the multifaceted needs of any dispensing office/practice, let alone help build your patient base and revenues.

“Sandy” hired two audiologists at the same time. Both had strong credentials and were technically competent. Both seemed caring and had good patient-relationship skills. However, one audiologist’s patients continually walked out of the office as satisfied hearing instrument wearers. The other audiologist’s patients—patients who also had significant hearing loss that would be remediated through the use of hearing instruments and appropriate counseling—routinely decided to “think it over” and wait until their hearing got worse. What was the difference between these two dispensing professionals? Since there were not objective assessments, it’s difficult to say. But it is likely that the right assessment tool would have revealed beliefs that sabotaged this audiologist’s success.

While assessing and qualifying applicants may be the third and fourth steps in the recruitment process, they are in reality the second and third most important steps because they provide objective data about the candidate. In addition to helping you conform to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines, the right assessment confirms or challenges your personal impression of the candidate. There are many assessments designed for unique workplace applications: psychological tests, personality tests, behavioral styles tests, as well as tests that analyze aptitude, values, integrity and beliefs that support new-business development.

#4: The Resume
The resume is a screening tool that is now considered by many human resources executives to be far less important than it once was. Studies indicate that 30% of resumes are distorted. The National Referencing Corporation reported in Management Style that 30 million people have secured employment by lying on their resumes. Since the hearing health care world is small, it’s difficult to get away with wild fabrications by people coming from either the manufacturer or dispensing sector. But it has been known to happen.

According to Kurlan, about the only thing a resume can predict is the length of time a candidate may remain with your practice and the time of year when he/she is susceptible to a slump. People tend to remain in each job for a certain period of time. You will see this pattern repeated over and over again. People who change jobs tend to do so at the same time of year. If you employ such a person, expect some kind of depression, distraction, slump, or other downturn in performance at this same time of year.

The Least Important Step: The Interview
Although the interview, with only a 14% success rate, may be the least critical step in the process, no other step can help you measure presentation, composure, maturity, style, or resilience. The Society of Resource Management Hiring Executives reported that 63% of hiring decisions are made in the first 4.3 minutes.4 The remainder of the time is spent justifying the impulsive decision. According to a Michigan State University study, it is estimated that over 90% of all hiring decisions are made from an interview.

Clients often ask me to interview candidates for them in order to provide a third-party perspective. Recently after making a presentation alerting employers to the trap of the “halo” effect (that glow created by good interviewees), I walked into an interview with a candidate who greeted me with a warm, charming aura. Her eyes sparkled. She was absolutely delightful. She knew how to build rapport quickly. Now, for many jobs, this warmth would be sufficient. However, in this instance, I needed to discover if this person had the strength to ask patients probing questions. Did she have the ability to talk about the expense of new technology without feeling queasy? Could she handle price issues, as well as the I’ll-think-it-over stall? By the end of the interview, when she found out that she didn’t have all the beliefs needed to support her success, she turned hostile. Her warmth evaporated. She likely would have behaved similarly with clients.

One of the advantages of the job-matching process is the ability to develop behavioral questions that target the beliefs and experiences needed to succeed. Whereas you have only a 14% success rate relative to hiring a successful employee with an interview alone, by combining all available resources (ie, reference checking, testing personality, abilities, beliefs and interests, and a well-defined job matching process) you will increase your success rate to 75%.

Research by Greenberg & Greenberg4 also indicates that job matching lowers the risk of turnover and unexpected terminations.

The manager who is a successful recruiter helps the organization keep customers, maintain or enhance productivity, and leverage revenue opportunities. A successful recruiter employs a disciplined hiring process that includes identifying the qualities needed for success, assessing for those qualities, and constructing interview questions that help uncover attributes required for growing the practice to the next level. Using all the tools available will significantly increase your chances of procuring a successful employee, thereby perpetuating the success of your business/practice. w

1. Buckingham M, Coffman C. First, Break All the Rules. New York: Simon & Schuster; 1999.
2. Kurlan D. Westboro MA: Objective Management Group. Available at:
3. Midwest Assessments. Position alysis. Available at: test/positionalysis/positionalysis.html.
4. Greenberg HM, Greenberg J. Job matching for better skills. Harvard Bus Rev. 1980; 58(5).

Correspondence can be addressed to HR or Danita Bye, SGS Inc, Medina, MN 55356; email: [email protected].  For a free e-book, Make 2003 Great, visit the company’s Web site at

Danita Bye is president of Sales Growth Specialists (SGS) Inc, located in Minneapolis, a company that specializes in helping business owners increase their revenue-generating capabilities.