Hiring The Right Optician
Hiring the right Optician can bring long term success to a practice or optical shop, but hiring the wrong person can cause you, your employees and most importantly your customers, a few headaches. In a time when customers can easily shop online or visit your nearby competition, hiring the right optician has never been more crucial.
It may appear to be common sense to hire someone with all the right certificates and years of experience but it's just not that simply anymore. You'll want to take a look under the hood, so to speak, and consider the true influence that person will have on your stores online reputation, customer satisfaction, sales numbers and marketing.
Ideally, the interviewer should have some optical experience. If you find yourself in the unique situation where such person is not on staff, I recommend bringing in an optical consultant to assist in the search, interview and hiring decisions.
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Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume/application. (Personality)
Things to look for in responses:
Hobbies: Musician, singer, watching theatre plays, playing sports or making creative content.
Nonprofit Work: Volunteer their time at their local church, boys and girls club or school.
Family Life: Young kids, single parent or married with no kids
Continued Education: Recent book read, online course, educational podcast, current certificate
As the interviewer, you don't want to come right out and ask if the candidate is active in any of the above listed extracurricular activities, you want to simply ask for something that isn't listed on the already provided information. You may be spending more time with this person than you do with your own family, being capable of doing the job shouldn't suffice.
Talk to me about how you came to be an optician. (Experience)
Every optician has a different story, but one thing that most have in common is that they didn’t intend on being an optician coming out of college. Here are some common paths.
I was referred by a friend or family member
I was recruited from my sales job (i.e. sales associate at Nordstom)
I was looking for part-time work and Lenscrafters was hiring and willing to train
I started as an Optical Lab Technician and was cross-trained in sales
Not only will you gain a greater understanding of their path into optical, you should pay special attention to the mood in which they describe the journey. Are they excited for what's to come? Do they speak with a "been there, done that" arrogance? Do they sincerely enjoy helping people see better? Do sales numbers become a recurring theme?
What keeps you motivated to give your best at work each day? (Character)
Redundancy is a part the job, and constant repetition will bring any honest person to go through the motions. As someone that gave over 12 years to a single employer, I can testify to the importance of a positive mentality to stay fresh and energized. When asking this question, listen for responses that draw motivation from inexhaustible sources. Some examples would be:
Knowing I'm making a difference in people's' lives
Developing long lasting relationships with customers and coworkers
Staying up to date with the latest eyewear trends
Educating myself on the lens innovations
Finding new ways to improve customer service
In stark contrast, a sales driven person, who only cares about commission and personal gain, will give you an answer that would lead you to believe the well being of the customer is ranked second, on a good day. I would quickly dismiss these people and move on to the next interview.
What percentage of employees do you think steal at least $20 a month from their employers? This could mean goods, cash or company time. (Character)
The lower the percentage the better. (20-30% is ok) People tend to project themselves and their work ethics when answering this type of question. Meaning if they give you a high number like 75% they believe that most employees steal... because they do it. Needless to say, you should move onto the next person.
Give me 4-5 frame brands that you are a fan of. (Experience)
There is nothing wrong with designer brands but it would be nice if the optician named 1-2 indie frame companies. (e.g. Prodesign Denmark, Silhouette, Lindberg, OWP, LaFont, Randolph) Chances are your office/store carries a few of these collections. You want someone that is familiar with the quality and style that is available outside of the designer brand world.
Why are you a fan of the frames you just mentioned? (Character)
Quality and durability
Hold their adjustment well
Available in a wide range of size and color options
Fan of the designer
The response you get can tell you a lot about the candidate. Do they care about the image those brands portray? If so, are they partial to people that fit the model image for those brands? How do they help people that don’t want or can’t afford those brands?
As is the case with all answers, the interviewee is revealing that which is hidden in their subconcious. By this point in the interview, you should have a greater understanding of the person's personality, work ethics, character and commitment.
Knowledge and Communication
Effective communication is vital. Glasses can be quite complex and though most customers don't want to know all the technical information, there will be those that ask specific questions. Knowing the information is great, being able to recall and communicate that information is just as important to ensuring a positive customer experience.
Ask the candidate to explain the following conditions:
Explain the following lens types and parameters:
Standard vs Free-form lenses
Blue Light filters
Using a prescription with an Add power, have the candidate demonstrate the following conversions:
Single Vision Distance
Single Vision Reading
Single Vision Intermediate
Intermediate with near (for computer multifocals)
Convert a prescription written with negative cyl to positive cyl
If you are pleased with their responses, next you'll want to have them demonstrate a few hands-on examples of their capabilities.
Adjust temples and nosepads
Disassemble and reassemble nylon (half-rim) glasses
Neutralize single vision, progressive and bifocal lenses
Measure PD (with a pupilometer and manually)
Measure Seg Height for progressive, bifocal and OC height for single vision
Measure vertex, pantoscopic tilt and frame wrap
I would consider these to be basic manual abilities for all opticians.
Good opticians are hard to find so when you find someone that has the knowledge, experience, character and communication skills you're looking for you must do everything in your power to hire them. Money isn't everything but offering a competitive salary, benefits and growth opportunities will allow you to attract and keep top tier talent.
I hope you find this guide helpful. Thank you for reading and all the best in your search.
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