10 Qualities to Look for When Hiring an Office Manager (Plus 3 Red Flags to Avoid)

10 Qualities to Look for When Hiring an Office Manager (Plus 3 Red Flags to Avoid)

If you type the words leadership qualities into Google, you’ll find literally tens of thousands of articles arguing that each and every quality is the most important. However, when looking for an office manager for your ophthalmology practice, you need a candidate that aligns with the culture, ethics, values and goals you’ve set for your team. We’ve put together a list of 10 qualities that are important for a good office manager and illustrate the impact they can have on employees, patients and your overall business. Included are precise questions to help you evaluate these qualities when interviewing and a few red flag qualities to avoid!

  1. Integrity

An office manager must have integrity. A conscientious leader who values doing what is right, regardless of the circumstances, is consistent and reliable. Teams can count on leaders who have integrity. It not only assures them that they are making the right decision but also provides them with a stable direction as a team. Office managers lacking integrity are unpredictable in the worst ways.

 “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” C.S. Lewis

Recruitloop suggests the following interview question to test integrity: Tell me about an instance when you experienced a loss or received a punishment for doing what you felt was right. How did you react?

  1. Self-awareness

According to a study performed by Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and Green Peak Partners, leadership training courses often downplay the importance of self-awareness. Yet, high self-awareness scores are strong predictors of overall success as a business professional.

Office managers who are aware of their weaknesses are not only able to address them; they’re also able to hire and work with people who make up for their deficits, which strengthens the overall team. Self-awareness also allows leaders to realize that the best idea may not be their own but someone else’s. Such awareness allows the team to move forward on the best path rather than the leader’s path alone.

Interview question to reveal self-awareness: What’s the most challenging thing about being an office manager?

  1. Empathy

Empathy is often said to be related to weakness. Yet, leaders who lack empathy are those who end up wreaking havoc on their domains. Empathetic leaders are more courageous than their counterparts because they promote well-being across the team while simultaneously driving them forward to achieve positive results.

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it.” Stephen Covey

Interview question to test empathy: As an office manager, how would you explain to a patient that they need to have another test due to an error?

  1. Insightfulness

Insightful office managers are able to avoid several of the greatest pitfalls a leader can face. They don’t advocate strictly for their own ideas. Instead, they keep an open mind to better ideas. What’s more, they are always learning and growing. Insightfulness is a quality that allows a manager to learn from past failures to forge a new and better path forward.

Interview question to examine insightfulness: Can you describe a time you were able to identify and fix a problem before it became urgent?

  1. Generosity

Having a spirit of generosity is a key and undervalued characteristic of a leader. Being generous doesn’t only mean being generous with money. It also means being generous with time, attention and information. Being generous makes a leader more supportive. Moreover, it inspires their team and other leaders to also give everything they have to the cause. Without a generous leader, you may end up with a group where everyone is out for themselves.

Interview question to learn about a candidate’s generosity: What are some ways you’ve demonstrated generosity in the workplace?

  1. Innovation

Being innovative is a multifaceted characteristic. It requires having a strong focus on the big picture while also being curious and trusting their own instincts. These characteristics and abilities together will allow an office manager to creatively inspire innovation across the team.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs

Interview question to test for innovativeness: Can you tell me about a time when you recognized a problem as an opportunity?

  1. Persistence

Persistence is complemented by insightfulness because it also allows leaders to push forward even after failure. This trait is often associated with a never-give-in attitude. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also about knowing when to give up on one strategy and pivot to a new strategy. Persisting is a mode of overcoming that is essential when you run into a problem.

Interview question about persistence: How have you ensured the adoption of a new policy or procedure throughout an organization? Did you have a Plan B?

  1. Transparency

A transparent office manager is someone who is open, honest and ethical about their intentions.

Transparency solves problems faster; it builds teams and fosters authentic relationships. People know they can trust their leader even when circumstances are dire. Ultimately, transparency pushes performance to its highest levels. And true leaders can’t operate without it.

Interview question about transparency: Has there ever been a time when you were uncomfortable giving information known to be accurate to a supervisor, employee or patient?

  1. Authenticity

Is there anything more exhausting than dealing with a manager or colleague who operates from a persona that is fake? Authenticity means behaving in a truthful and open way that always represents who you are at your core. It’s a trait that requires openness and self-confidence. Not everyone possesses it naturally.

Remember, fake people build fake relationships. That not only fails to serve your team but will eventually drive them mad.

Because of the nature of fakeness, there are no precise interview questions that will assess if someone is being genuine. However, you may well find the answer in how (too) perfectly they answer other interview questions.

  1. Stoicism

With all this talk about authenticity and transparency, it may seem strange to consider stoicism an important leadership quality. But stoicism doesn’t just mean perfecting a poker face. Rather, stoicism combines the practice of self-control with cautiousness, especially during a conflict or negotiation. Considering that every conflict costs your practice in time, energy and resources, not to mention morale, stoic managers can often prevent escalation and reach a fair outcome.

Interview question to check for stoicism: Describe your process for dealing with a difficult patient or unhappy employee.

3 Qualities to Avoid When Hiring an Office Manager

  1. Deception

Lying in any shape or form undermines the confidence your team will have in their leader or manager. Unfortunately, some climbing the corporate ladder will use dishonesty and deception to achieve the next rung of power. Not only should fibbing be seen as a red flag, it also should be considered a fatal flaw when hiring an office manager. A Forbes article characterized dishonest leadership as providing the slippery slope that can take down your entire team, citing the following systemic outcomes from working for a dishonest manager:

  • Developing a sense of entitlement – Acts of collusion, intentional or not, can leave a team member feeling that they are deserving of privileges or special treatment.
  • Lack of conscience – Acting without feelings of guilt, remorse or shame together with a tendency to shrug-off any feelings of responsibility.

Interview question to test deceptiveness: Can you tell me about a business situation when you felt honesty was inappropriate?

  1. Manipulation

A manager who resorts to manipulation indicates that they have neither the confidence nor the ability to lead their team using positive techniques. Manipulation doesn’t inspire or empower employees. It does, however, foster resentment and creates enmity and divide.

Manipulation is used by managers who focus on the short-term. Persuasion is for leaders who can see the big picture.

Interview question to assess manipulation versus persuasion: Tell me about a time you had to change someone’s opinion to accomplish an agenda.

  1. Intimidation

Intimidation may seem like a useful way to light a fire under an unmotivated staff member. But have you ever thought about what goes through the head of an employee who is working from a place of fear? At best, they’re only partially focused on work, but more focused on the threat. They’re not doing their best work. Any of these tactics may work once, but they ultimately destroy a manager’s ability to lead, inspire and facilitate trusting relationships.

Interview question to assess for intimidation: In what ways have you worked with your team to increase productivity?

As you prepare to hire an office manager for your ophthalmology practice, you will find the qualities that make a good leader or office manager aren’t singular. Often these characteristics overlap and interact with each other in ways that support a manager’s abilities as a whole. Ultimately, leadership requires a dynamic of different traits that will help them meet every challenge that comes their way.

When it comes to staffing, it may be advantageous to have an external firm help with the recruitment and interview process. Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, is a Management Services Organization (MSO) that has partnered with recruitment firms that specialize in helping ophthalmology practices find top notch personnel to fill vacant positions. By joining our MSO, your practice can access these services, along with a full range of other services and products to support your ophthalmology practice, all at reduced rates. Our exclusive MSO allows you to take advantage of group buying power to save the most money while still receiving the very best services. To learn more about options for recruitment services, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting today.