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Why this matters:

One of the core responsibilities of an orthodontist’s job is correcting misaligned teeth. Braces, of course, are a popular way to treat this condition. The candidate should know the ins and outs of the fitting process, have confidence in their knowledge, and be prepared to execute the procedure themself.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of specific tools or technology used throughout the procedure 
  • Familiarity with common hurdles in the fitting process and ways to overcome them
  • A patient-centered approach that accounts for patient needs, concerns, and comfort levels

Why this matters:

Throughout the dental profession, continual learning is critical to success. Best orthodontic practices are always evolving, and most countries require orthodontists to complete continuing education units to maintain their licensure. If the candidate can recount recent news, they’re likely staying on top of their requirements and committed to keeping their skills sharp.

What to listen for:

  • Indication that the candidate closely follows developments in the field
  • Mention of specific journals, publications, or conferences
  • Ability to discuss complex orthodontics topics clearly and without jargon

Why this matters:

When a patient arrives for a consultation, the orthodontist has to diagnose any malocclusions or diseases, requiring an examination and review of the patient record. A qualified candidate will have a thorough diagnostic process in place to avoid errors, make a proper diagnosis, and decide on the best course of treatment.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of specific diagnostic methods and tools, including plaster models, X-rays, and photographs of the teeth and jaw
  • Diligent review of the patient’s medical and dental history prior to the consultation
  • Willingness to seek a second opinion if necessary

Why this matters:

An orthodontist’s job extends beyond treatments and diagnoses. For any medical professional, patient care is a critical part of providing quality healthcare. Ideally, the candidate will prioritize the patient experience and recognize their responsibility to make them feel safe, heard, and confident about any upcoming procedure.

What to listen for:

  • Compassion for patients feeling distressed or worried about a treatment
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Suggestion to schedule a one-on-one appointment to provide the patient with more information

Why this matters:

Orthodontists typically work in tandem with a team of hygienists and technicians. On certain occasions, orthodontists even communicate with their patient’s primary dentist to gain more insight into the case. A candidate who’s experienced at collaborating with others will help promote efficiency and a positive internal culture at your practice.

What to listen for:

  • Practiced teamwork, leadership, and communication skills
  • Experience resolving conflict and remaining calm in tense situations
  • Willingness to listen to others’ opinions and reevaluate their own in the face of strong evidence 

Why this matters:

Orthodontic best practices and technologies are always evolving. An ideal candidate will embrace these new, proven methods, especially when they can improve accuracy, efficiency, or quality of care. Someone who has shown innovation in the past will likely be inclined to do so again, and won’t shy away from change.

What to listen for:

  • A positive attitude and resilience, showing the candidate won’t be discouraged by learning curves or setbacks inherent to working with new technologies
  • Indication that the candidate takes initiative to find better approaches and methods
  • Signs that the candidate welcomes change

Why this matters:

After graduating from dental school, orthodontists apply and commit to a residency program to learn their specialty. While the candidate has already committed to this career path through extensive schooling, this question can provide some insight into why they chose it. A candidate with high intrinsic motivation and a desire to help people can be a valuable contribution to your team.

What to listen for:

  • Genuine interest in helping people through better dental health and aesthetics
  • Passion for the field, including a devotion to continuous learning and mastery
  • Inclination toward problem-solving and critical thinking

Why this matters:

In an ideal world, all patients would be completely satisfied, but this isn’t always the case. While sometimes a staff member can fix the issue at hand, patient complaints aren’t always about matters within their control. That said, at the end of the day, the candidate should have the tools to diffuse the situation and appease an unhappy customer.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to remain calm and professional, even when a patient is angry
  • Humility to admit to their mistakes and a willingness to fix them
  • Practiced listening, conflict resolution, and customer service skills

Why this matters:

Every practice has busy days. Strong candidates are equipped with the time management and organizational skills necessary to handle them. Look for a candidate who can work efficiently without compromising quality, stay organized with concrete strategies, and independently manage their workload.

What to listen for:

  • Strategies for staying organized and punctual, like reviewing charts in the morning or scheduling buffer time between patients
  • Signs that the candidate prioritizes the patient’s time
  • Ability to work quickly while still providing excellent care
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