What Would Shawn Do? Hire an Associate Veterinarian Who Will Stick


Our practice is expanding, apuppy&vetnd we need to hire another veterinarian. We’ve had trouble in the past with high turnover. Associates interview well but turn out to be lacking in important ways. For example, one talked down to the staff to the point that staff members were regularly leaving in tears. Another gave away the farm because she didn’t feel comfortable charging full price for products and services. What are some surefire ways to identify a quality doctor?


As you’ve experienced, a quality doctor is more than someone who practices good medicine. Your ideal candidate must also be able to relate exceptionally well to clients and team members. Here are three things you can do to find those people.

Ask behavior-based interview questions.

This kind of question helps the candidate talk about real, past behavior rather than theoretical, future behavior. Examples:
  • Identify a specific client type you find challenging. What makes this type of person challenging? Tell me about a time you dealt with this type of client in the past. How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
  • Talk about an interaction with a client in the past few months that went badly. Why did it go badly? How would you approach it differently if you had it to do over?
  • One of our core values is honesty. Tell us about a time when you were honest in your last position, even though it was difficult for you to do so.
  • Think about the biggest challenge you’ve had with staff. What did you do to overcome it?

Conduct thorough interviews.

Ask the same questions of each candidate, and keep good notes. Conduct a phone interview first, then a face-to-face group interview with the leadership team, then a team interview (where the person doesn’t really work but observes the team at work while the team interacts with the candidate).

Check references.

Finally, thoroughly check references. Ask the same questions about each candidate, and be sure to cover on-the-job behavior.

Good luck!


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