6 Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid in Veterinary Practices

The 2023 iVET360 Practice Manager Report found that the majority of the nearly 400 managers surveyed agreed that recruiting was their biggest challenge, confirming that practice leadership has struggled with staff hiring and retention for several consecutive years. In our current workforce crisis, preventing hiring mistakes is crucial to practice success and to help safeguard the rest of your team from compassion fatigue and burnout. Additionally, each team member you lose costs around 20% of their salary to replace.

The survey also confirmed that managers are often strapped for time: filling in on the floor, putting out daily fires, and unable to invest time in larger practice issues, business growth, and overall practice health. A focus on hiring can ensure you have the right people in the right positions, reduce turnover, and free up your time for manager responsibilities.

  Understand the actions your practice can take to save up to 15 minutes per clinical visit.

Here are six of the most common hiring mistakes that practice managers make and how they can be avoided.

1. Failing To Ask Culture Questions in the Interview

As you're interviewing potential team members, keep in mind that the most important predictor of candidate success is culture fit—not skills or experience. Of course, most managers prioritize the most experienced candidates who look great on paper, but if their personalities clash with your current team or their values don't align with your own, they'll struggle to do well in your practice and cause conflict with other team members.

Only 15% of hiring managers asked culture-based interview questions, according to the survey, meaning that the majority of candidates are hired without any idea of whether they'll truly be a good fit. Questions designed to understand your candidate's value systems, such as what they valued in their previous positions, why they left previous jobs, or what their dream job would look like, are a good screening tool.

2. Forgoing a Background Check

Unfortunately, in today's world, trusting people to be who they claim can backfire. As a hiring manager, you have no way of knowing the true character of the person you're asking to work for you each day, but a background check can eliminate a criminal history that could put your hospital at risk for theft or substance misuse.

According to the iVET360 survey, only 21% of managers conduct post-offer background checks, which means many workplaces expose themselves to the possible harmful effects of the wrong hire. With the right service, background checks are relatively inexpensive and an easy way to prevent a potential disaster. Combined with reference checks, background checks get you one step closer to your dream team.

3. Underestimating the Importance Of Health Insurance

Shockingly, only 65% of veterinary practices offer health insurance to their full-time employees. While some are fortunate to have insurance through a spouse or a reasonably priced government-funded marketplace plan, many aren't. Healthcare is crucial for all employees, especially those working in veterinary medicine, which is physically and mentally demanding. You'll attract far more candidates when you offer health insurance and other big-ticket benefits, such as retirement, which are well worth the investment.

4. Listing Demands in the Job Ad

Some veterinary job advertisements read as a list of demands detailing the exact qualifications needed for the position, the strict schedule availability required, and other restrictive language that severely narrows your candidate pool. You need your candidates more than they need you, so shift your language from describing what you need from a candidate to why candidates should choose your workplace.

5. Using Passive Recruitment Techniques

Most people use the standard passive recruitment techniques: Advertising for a job and waiting for applicants. But, active recruitment, which is the act of contacting currently employed individuals to see if they would consider leaving for a better position, can get you better results. Currently employed candidates often have the most experience, so don't be afraid to reach out.

6. Not Paying Candidates for Working Interviews

Most hiring managers use the term "working interview" loosely, which creates confusion surrounding this time-honored veterinary hiring tradition. In fact, a working interview is not the same as an observational interview, and you must carefully consider which is best for your practice. An observational interview allows the candidate to spend time with the team and see how the practice works on a daily basis, but they can't touch patients or interact heavily with clients. A working interview allows candidates to jump in and work for all or part of a day, demonstrate their skills, and mingle with the team.

The key distinction is the word "working." If a candidate works for you, even for only a day, they must sign appropriate waivers to absolve liability, fill out a tax form, and receive payment for their efforts. If you have not been paying your working interviewees, you should start now, or switch to the observational format. Your candidate will respect your viewpoint and appreciate your willingness to compensate them for their valuable time.

Using the right hiring techniques will help ensure you find the right candidates who can take the pressure off your current team members. A solid team takes time to build and effort to maintain, but avoiding common mistakes will take you down the path toward a high-performing team with minimal turnover.

Read These Next

Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at sarahrumple.com.

Welcome to Practice Life:
Everything Practice Management.

Sign up to receive stories and tips from peers and industry experts in veterinary practice management. IDEXX uses the information provided to contact you about relevant products and services.