Your veterinary receptionist is one of the most important team members in your clinic. Being careful about who you hire can save you a lot of time and aggravation down the road. And while training is certainly an option, it’s best to look for candidates that possess certain key front desk skills right off the bat and who will also be a good fit with your practice culture. To make things a bit easier, here are a few essential questions to ask during the interview process that should help you pinpoint the best candidates.
Why do you want to work in the veterinary industry?
Many of the front desk skills you’ll require for your veterinary receptionist can be easily transferrable to and from other industries. That means you’ll likely have applicants who possess the technical skill set you’re looking for, but have little to no experience in the veterinary industry. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. It can be helpful, however, to gain an understanding as to what attracted them to the industry. If they’re just looking for work, it might not be a great fit. If they profess their passion for animals, on the other hand, you might just have found your ideal employee.
How are you at multitasking?
When it comes to front desk skills, this one’s absolutely critical. You need someone managing your reception area that is capable of juggling many different tasks at the same time without getting frazzled. The busier your clinic, the more important this skill becomes. Provide real-life scenarios and ask your candidates to explain how they’d handle them. For instance, let’s say they are on the phone with a client when another walks up to the front desk to check out. Meanwhile, one of the doctors is waiting for a patient file and the other line is ringing off the hook. Make sure the answers provided are in line with what you’d expect from your receptionist.
What tools and technologies are you familiar with?
Many companies employ the same programs and equipment for managing the front desk, such as multi-line telephone systems, computers, fax machines, printers, copiers and scheduling software. So, even if your candidate hasn’t worked in the veterinary industry, chances are he or she still has many of the same technical front desk skills you’re looking for. If they don’t necessarily have hands-on experience but seem like they’d make a great addition to your team, make sure they’re at least comfortable learning new technology.
Have you ever had experience with the death of a pet?
This one’s an important one because empathy is among the most critical front desk skills you can find in a veterinary receptionist. You want a team member who is able to put themselves in the shoes of a grieving client and offer compassion and comfort during difficult times. It’s equally important, however, that the person you have manning your front desk is able to handle these situations and still keep up with their day-to-day duties.
In your opinion, what are the most important “soft skills” for the job?
You already know the answer to this question: friendliness, compassion, active listening, empathy, communication, etc., but you’ll want to make sure the candidates you are considering have the same “soft” front desk skills in mind. Ask them to elaborate on why the skills they listed are important and provide examples to demonstrate to you that they, in fact, have those qualities.
There is, perhaps, no more essential role within your veterinary practice than that of your receptionist. This individual or team is responsible for making the critical first and lasting impressions on your clients and therefore can have a significant impact on your clinic’s bottom line. The five interview questions listed above should help you weed through your list of applicants and improve the chances of hiring the best person for the job.
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