In a medical practice, the office manager is one of the most important hires you can make. This position is the one responsible for seeing to all the little details that go into running the business, allowing the physician to focus on actually treating patients.
So what goes into making this important hire? We spoke with some experts in the medical industry to find out some of the top qualities and best practices for finding the best office manager candidates. Here are some top tips.
How to Hire a Medical Office Manager
Emphasize Personality Over Experience
Experience and skills are important in every job. You shouldn’t hire someone who is completely unqualified. However, as long as someone meets the minimum qualifications for the job, the attitude and personality that they display throughout the hiring process should speak louder than any extra years in the industry.
Manny Oliverez, a 20-year veteran of the healthcare industry and CEO of Capture Billing & Consulting said in an email to Small Business Trends, “The number one quality I look for is personality, even before experience. The manager will need to develop a team and I believe it starts with a positive friendly attitude and a good sense of humor.”
Look for a Varied Skill Set
When it comes to skills, an office manager at a medical practice must offer a huge variety. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to be the nation’s foremost expert on all of them, but they do at least need to be adaptable enough to take on different roles as needed.
Mary Pat Whaley, founder and president of Manage My Practice, a practice management consulting firm, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “The office manager or practice administrator is the person who needs to wear many hats: human resource manager, accounts payable, payroll, billing and electronic medical records manager, facility manager, compliance manager, marketer and customer service support person. This person has risk management responsibilities as well as making sure the day-to-day flow of the office goes well, sometimes even jumping in to work at different stations in the office if needed.”
Find Someone Who Isn’t Afraid of Change
Additionally, a good office manager might find new ways to improve the business over time. So look for people who seem to have great ideas and aren’t afraid of speaking up when an idea strikes.
Oliverez says, “Far too often I hear managers say, “Well that’s the way it has always been done.” Things change and they have to be proactive and find new and better ways to do things. They cannot be afraid of change.”
Make Them Demonstrate Communication Skills
Communication skills, while important in any field, are especially important for office manager positions. So throughout your email, phone and in-person communications with each candidate, make sure you notice how clearly they convey points and important information, as well as how well they listen.
Oliverez says, “A good office manager would have be a good teacher, communicator and listener. In building a team there is lots of training and retraining involved, it never stops. Communicating and listening to your staff is very important in in this process and helps gain and hold the staff’s respect.”
Since office managers often have to wear so many hats, it’s important that the person is able to learn on the go. So during the interview process, ask about situations where they’ve had to learn or adapt as an adult.
Ask About How They’ve Dealt With Difficult Situations
Additionally, it’s a good idea to get a feel for how they might handle stressful or complicated issues, since they’re likely to deal with plenty of those in the role.
Whaley says, “With all this responsibility, a great office manager has to be unflappable. H/she has to be able to keep up with the almost daily changes in healthcare and steer the practice and physician to making good decisions and planning strategically.”
Look for People Who Are Willing to Stick Around
An office manager sets the tone for the office. So if you’re experiencing constant turnover, it can leave the practice in a state of flux almost constantly. During the process, ask about each candidate’s long term plans and put a priority on those who seem genuinely interested in sticking around.
Get an Idea of Their Working Style
It can also be a good idea to invite top candidates into the office for a half day to meet the whole staff, see how the office operates and get a feel for the job. This can give you more time to assess both personality and skills.
Take the Rest of Your Team Into Account
Since an office manager is going to be the one dealing with staff on a day-to-day basis, their opinions should also come into account.
Oliverez adds, “Pool together the opinions of the staff and evaluate if the candidate would be a great fit as your new office manager.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Finally, the actual hiring process can be a bit daunting. So don’t be afraid to get input from a professional.
Whaley adds, “When hiring an office manager, you may want to get some outside help in the form of a consultant or another practice manager that is well-respected in the community. Physicians often don’t know what questions to ask, but consultants and other managers do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!”
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