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READER TIPS

Pick up on these revealing “non-verbal cues” to avoid hiring problem staffers

Good interviewing requires resume evaluation and a bit of psychology, says office manager Scott Ford of Dixie Primary Care in St. George, UT. It’s not just what candidates say but how they say it. And Ford should know. He is a licensed clinical social worker, and as manager, he applies his skills in therapy and counseling to interviewing.

Look for other clues

Beyond the resume, he says, what he looks for are “the nonverbal clues.”

One is how the candidate is dressed. Somebody “who comes in professionally dressed and groomed” is trying to impress the interviewer, he says. That person is eager to get the job. By contrast, an unprofessional appearance is a sign of only passing interest.

Another is nervousness. Anybody is nervous at the start of an interview, but 10 or 15 minutes into it, the candidate needs to get comfortable. If that’s not possible, how will that person respond to the stress that’s inherent to every position in a medical office?

It’s in the eyes

Another is the response to difficult questions. Somebody who looks the interviewer in the eye is giving a truthful answer. But somebody who angles away from the interviewer or moves backwards a little “is putting up a psychological barrier,” Ford says. Chances are the answer is evasive or even untruthful.

The same is true when people start picking their nails or looking at the ground, he says. The response is not real. And the person who looks up toward the ceiling before responding “is searching the sky for an answer,” according to Ford

Is there emotion?

Notice also the signs of emotion that accompany what’s being said. When someone says “I want this job,” the face should show seriousness and interest. Without that, the candidate is just going through the motions of an interview or needs work and doesn’t care what it is and has no intention of being committed to the job.

Confidence is important too, because it indicates the person is looking for a career. Especially confident is the person who interviews the interviewer with questions such as what type of patients the office treats and how many patients it sees each day.

Sketchy job history

The most negative things to watch for, he says, are gaps in the employment and a jumpy job history. Ask the why of them. Somebody who makes direct eye contact and gives a logical explanation is a good candidate. But somebody who has no good reason or who answers with questionable body language doesn’t intend to make a career of any job.

Overall, he says, the best candidate is somebody who shows a stable employment history, is easy to talk to, is expressive and jovial, and has “a good dialogue” with the manager. People like that, he says, “tend to stay longer in their jobs.”


Medical Office Manager wants to send you $100. Tell us how you solved a problem, implemented a successful program – or share any idea we can use in our Reader Tips column and we’ll send you $100. Contact catherine@plainlanguagemedia.com


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