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Published: Jun 27, 2023 12 min read
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Learning how to find great candidates for your dental practice can be daunting. In this comprehensive guide, we'll review everything you need to know to hire a dentist more efficiently and effectively, from writing a good job description to posting on a job search site like ZipRecruiter, one of the best job listing sites for employers.

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What does a dentist do?

A dentist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the mouth. Dentists typically diagnose and treat tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, broken teeth, misaligned teeth, missing teeth and more. They also provide preventive care, such as regular teeth cleanings and fluoride treatments, to help protect patients from oral health problems.

In some cases, specialized dentists, like cosmetic dentists, provide cosmetic procedures to improve the appearance of teeth and gums. This can include veneers, orthodontics, whitening and more. Other dentists may perform corrective surgeries to address serious oral health issues or injuries such as jaw deformities, cleft palates and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

How to hire a dentist

Dentistry is a highly competitive specialty, and hiring qualified candidates can be complex. The steps below will help you through the process to identify, reach and hire the best talent.

Utilizing an applicant tracking system (ATS), which lets you compare applicants’ skills and experience, can be especially helpful in making your final selection. Make sure you follow the best practices for using an ATS, such as having defined criteria for success and organizing the evaluation process fairly and consistently.

Define your ideal candidate

The first step in hiring a dentist is to define your ideal candidate. Consider the qualifications, credentials and experience a dentist should have to meet the needs of your practice. Your criteria may include the education and certifications required for the job, any specialized skills or expertise you expect, a minimum number of years of experience or even the type of personality you want on your team.

Before you begin your search, establish a clear profile of the dentist you're looking for. This will help you narrow down potential candidates from a large pool of applicants. For example, if you need a family dentist, you probably want someone with a background in pediatric dentistry and general dentistry. When you have a clear vision of your ideal candidate, it will be easier to create targeted job postings and attract the right people.

Write a detailed dentist job description

Once you have your ideal dentist in mind, it's time to translate your criteria into a job description to attract the right candidates. A high-quality dentist job description should include a job summary, required qualifications and credentials, necessary experience and skills and a list of expected duties and responsibilities.

Accuracy plays an important role in this step. For example, if you want to hire a part-time dentist but don't explain that clearly in the job description, you'll probably receive applications from candidates searching for full-time jobs instead.

In addition, emphasize the professional development opportunities, company culture and attractive benefits that you offer to make your job appealing to applicants.

If you need help getting started with your job description, you can refer to ZipRecruiter’s dentist job template for help.

Job summary

The job summary should provide an overview of the position. This is where you explain what type of dentist you're looking for, expected work hours and other key details. For example, if you are looking for a full-time dentist with weekend hours, you should specify this in the job summary. On the other hand, if you are looking for an associate dentist to work in your practice part-time, make that clear.

Required qualifications and credentials

In this section, list the qualifications and credentials needed for the job. This includes degrees such as a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or D.M.D. (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry), as well as board certifications or specialties, such as pediatric dentistry.

Experience and skills

Next, list the experience and preferred skills for the job, and be as specific as possible. Include any technical skills such as familiarity with dental software, experience working with specific types of patients or a certain number of years in the field. For more senior positions, you may want to include management or leadership experience required for the role. If you're advertising to candidates out of state, include the requirements for licensure in your state.

Duties and responsibilities

Finally, outline the dentist's duties and responsibilities. This should include any administrative work, patient care or other job-related tasks that you expect of them. For example, if you plan for the dentist to take on the role of office manager or supervise other staff, include this in the job description. You should also specify any relevant job performance expectations such as patient satisfaction ratings or minimum annual number of procedures.

Advertise the job opening to dental talent

Once you write a clear job description, it's time to advertise the position to potential candidates. Leverage your professional network for referrals, list the job on the best job posting sites, take advantage of the best recruiting software or even use a dental recruitment agency. Doing your due diligence in this stage will ensure you get to choose from top talent.

If you decide to post your job on a major job posting site like ZipRecruiter, the site will filter resumes down to a list of only the most qualified candidates, based on keywords and qualifications you select.

Make sure the job opening also appears on your website's career page. There, you can add even more detail, such as employee testimonials, to help entice applicants. This is your chance to set yourself apart from the competition and show why your ideal dentist should want to work for you.

Prepare a list of dentist interview questions

Prepare a list of dentist interview questions that will help you get to know the candidates and evaluate their qualifications and skills. These may include questions about their experience in the field, how they would handle certain work scenarios or whether they would be a good cultural fit for your organization.

Here are some examples of dentist interview questions:

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in dentistry? — This question gives you insight into their drive and passions.
  • How would you handle a situation where a patient is unhappy with their treatment? — Behavioral interview questions like this can help determine the candidate's conflict resolution skills and how they handle difficult conversations.
  • When working with a variety of patients, how do you adjust your working methods to deal with different comfort levels, preferences and personalities? — By understanding their experience and the types of patients they have worked with, you can better gauge their qualifications.
  • Walk me through a standard exam with a brand new patient. — This helps ascertain the candidate's skills with patient care while determining whether they're up-to-date on the latest standards and protocols.
  • How can you determine if a patient needs a dental x-ray? — Ask a few technical questions like this to evaluate the candidate's level of expertise and identify any gaps in their knowledge.

Carefully consider all of your contenders

After sourcing potential candidates and conducting interviews, carefully consider your top contenders to select the best fit for the position. Evaluate each candidate's qualifications and experience, and look for any red flags that could indicate they wouldn't be a good match for your practice.

Once you narrow the list down to just a few choices, it can be helpful to conduct a second round of interviews or request more references to inform your final decision. In some cases, you may suggest a brief trial or probationary period to make sure a dentist is really the best fit for the job.

Hire your preferred dentist

The last step is to draw up a contract and hire your preferred dentist. A good employment contract should include a comprehensive outline of the job duties, expectations and responsibilities as well as wages and benefits. If you run an independent practice, it can be helpful to outline the new dentist's degree of autonomy in making decisions about patient care.

Before officially extending an offer, utilize one of the best background check sites to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises that may affect your business. A background check will confirm the dentist has the proper qualifications and does not have any past legal or criminal issues.

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How to find a dentist for hire

Finding the right dentist for your practice requires a comprehensive recruitment process that includes sourcing top candidates, conducting interviews and evaluating potential hires. Start by posting the job description on relevant online job boards, university career websites and journals or publications that cater to dentists. Search for experienced professionals through dental networks and associations, or contact universities in your area that have dental programs to share your job posting.

When sourcing potential candidates, look for those with an exemplary educational background and specialized experience that aligns with the job requirements. Prepare a comprehensive set of interview questions to assess technical knowledge and skills, but also ask behavioral questions about their character and personality.

After reviewing the applications you receive, narrow down your choices to a few preferred candidates and conduct another round of interviews. Then, extend an offer to your preferred candidate and prepare a formal contract that outlines job duties, expectations and benefits.

Dentist FAQ

How much does it cost to hire a dentist?


There are several expenses related to the process of hiring a new dentist, including advertising costs, background checks, legal fees and time associated with the interview process.

Due to this mix of factors, there is no standard rate for hiring a dentist. Your costs may vary depending on the location, type of dentist you need, state of the job market, methods you use to source candidates and more. Generally speaking, the cost associated with hiring a dentist can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

How much do dentists make?

Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual pay for dentists was $155,040 or an hourly wage of $74.54. Most dentists make an annual salary between $212,220 ($102.03 per hour) and $105,480 ($50.71 per hour).

Orthodontist vs dentist: what's the difference?


Orthodontists and dentists both provide oral health care services, but there are some key differences between the two professions. Dentists typically perform general dentistry services such as cleanings, fillings and extractions, while orthodontists specialize in correcting tooth and jaw misalignments.

Dentists may be trained to perform some minor orthodontic work, but orthodontists have more in-depth training and knowledge about correcting jaw and tooth positioning. Orthodontists complete additional schooling and must pass a specialized exam to obtain licensure.

What is a dental assistant, and should you hire one?


A dental assistant helps a dentist with patient care and treatment. They are responsible for setting up and cleaning instruments, taking X-rays, updating patient records and providing other administrative support.

Hiring a trained dental assistant can help increase the efficiency of your practice and free up time for the dentist to focus on patient care. Furthermore, dental assistants can provide an extra layer of comfort for nervous patients by assisting with procedures and providing additional guidance.

Summary of Money's how to hire dentists

Whether you're hiring a highly specialized biological dentist or a general dentist, the process requires careful sourcing, interviewing and vetting of candidates to find the right fit for the job. The more upfront work you put into the hiring process, the easier it will be to retain employees and maintain an efficient dental practice.

Look for candidates who have the right educational background and experience to fit your needs. Prepare a comprehensive list of interview questions to assess technical knowledge and skills as well as character and personality traits. Once you identify a few top candidates, conduct another round of interviews and extend an offer to your preferred dentist. Lastly, prepare a formal contract that outlines job duties, expectations and benefits.