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Erin Potts

Erin Potts

Friday, 27 November 2015 17:49

The Hiring Process

The most successful interviewee you will ever meet is the one that is most experienced. Unfortunately, the experience they are bringing to the table is not necessarily work experience but interview experience. These are the folks that jump from job to job, are never satisfied where they are at or are so miserable to work with that they have trouble holding a job for longer than it takes to get to know them.

Through constant interviewing, they’ve learned what questions to expect, what order to expect them in, what the interviewer wants to hear, and so on. Using a traditional interview style makes it impossible to weed out the truly exceptional candidates from the truly exceptional interviewee. We in turn become conditioned to expect certain answers and reactions in the interviewing process.

We all know what questions we can and cannot ask in an interview, but if the restraints of good manners were removed, we would have a laundry list of yes or no questions we would love to ask, if only we could believe the answers:

  • “Do you make a lot of mistakes at work, and make the same ones over and over?”
  • “Are you viciously passive-aggressive?”
  • “Are you a horrible gossip?”
  • “Do you find it impossible to admit when you are wrong?”
  • “Do you just give up when things get difficult?”
  • “Did any of your managers like having you on the staff?”
  • “Did you ever contribute to the success of the business?”
  • “Would I have to be completely crazy to hire you?”

Let’s imagine you are looking to hire a new supervisor that is going to be in it for the "long haul" and help you to build your team over the next five years. You want someone with experience, but who will also bring a natural commitment to their work and the team. Two candidates apply:

  • Candidate #1 has been with their company for eleven years and started out answering phones. She worked her way up to sales manager and has been in a supervisory role for three years. This was the very first job she had in high school.
  • Candidate #2 has managed three sales teams for three different companies over the last 5 years. His resume states that he has increased profitability by 80% or more in all three companies. He emphasizes his record of building client relationships and thereby building sales.

When brought in for a traditional interview, Candidate #1 arrives for her interview right on time and sits quietly in the waiting area drying her sweaty palms on her pants. She is very nervous, stammers a bit at first, and pauses for what seems like a long time before answering each question. Her answers seem genuine, albeit rough and unpolished. Her body language hints that she can’t get comfortable; she is shifting constantly in her seat and doesn’t seem to know where to put her hands. You learn that she is somewhat reluctant to leave her current job and is only doing so due to the lack of further advancement opportunities within the company.

Candidate #2 arrives 15 minutes early and makes small talk about the company with the receptionist while he waits. He looks you square in the eye as he firmly shakes your hand with exactly the right amount of pressure while handing over a clean copy of his resume to refresh your memory. He seems completely at ease, answers your questions quickly, concisely, and with just the right amount of charm. He emphasizes the record-smashing sales achievements on his resume and promises to do the same thing for your company.

In the traditional interview, Candidate #2 outshines #1 tenfold, but in the non-traditional interview, the candidates might come across much, much differently. The traditional method is to ask simple, direct questions that are frankly easy to lie about. The non-traditional interview method requires candidates to relate situational anecdotes about previous jobs and to do more storytelling than merely reciting pat answers by rote.

This method is quite simple: begin by explaining to the candidate that you are going to describe workplace scenarios and that you need them to describe times when they found themselves in that situation and how they handled it. Encourage them to be as detailed as possible and to give as much background history as they can. Be prepared to ask a lot of leading questions in an attempt to draw out as much detailed information as possible. Be certain they understand that you are looking for certain qualities in your candidates and that this is the best method for doing that. The process should repeat; Question, Answer, Follow-Up.

Example Question: “At one time or another, all of us have found ourselves in conflict with a co-worker; it is unavoidable in the modern workplace. Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker, what caused it and how it was resolved.”

With this particular question, there are several traits you should be on the lookout for. You definitely don’t want the person that says, with their most dazzling smile, “Well, I just get along SUPER-DUPER with EVERYone ALL the time, so that has NEVER happened to me!” You want the person that admits reality by explaining a potentially unflattering anecdote and demonstrating a clear understanding of what caused it. You will most likely need to draw out more information than is originally offered:

Example Answer: “When I was at my last job, there was a CVT there that was really hard to work with, and one time she got really mad at me for cleaning out the x-ray processor, because I didn’t do it her way. I had only been there for two months. She yelled at me in front of some clients, and then just stormed out before I could even say anything to her. I talked to the owner about it the next day, and she told me that I just had to learn to deal with Employee because that was the way she was.”

Example Follow-Ups:

  • “Did you ever talk directly to Employee about what happened?”
  • “What was it that was so wrong about the way you cleaned the processor?”
  • “Did the owner seem to think you were in the wrong, or that Employee was?”
  • “Did that change your relationship with Employee?”
  • “Didn’t the owner care that the clients heard this?”
  • “Why didn’t you just quit and get out of there, since you were so new?”
  • “Did any of your other co-workers have anything to say about it?”
  • “You said that Employee was really hard to work with; what do you mean?”
  • “Did Employee seem to hold a grudge after this?”
  • “What do you think the manager should have done differently?”

Show a genuine interest in what the candidate is telling you and encourage them to reveal the real details rather than a cleaned-up version. Indicate sympathy for their side of the story: “Wow, what a nightmare!” “It sounds like you were outnumbered.” “So, the clients saw that and the owner didn’t care?” You can learn a massive amount of information about the person from the scenarios they describe and your follow up questions. In fact, you can get a strong feeling for the answers to that laundry list of yes or no questions you really want to ask.

In our pretend management search, Candidate #2 shined like a diamond in a traditional interview because he was in his element; he has never held a job for more than 9 months and is always looking for the next big thing. He’s been on hundreds of interviews like this one and is very comfortable and ready with quick, clever answers. Candidate #1 had not been on an interview in 11 years, and her last one was when she took her first job at 17 years of age. She is in what amounts to a brand new experience for her and is being asked standard questions that are anything but standard to her. She is doing her honest best, but can’t compete on a traditional playing field with a professional interviewee.

In a non-traditional interview, the candidates are all placed on the same ground. Successful answers don’t come from knowing what questions will be asked and what answers are expected, but rather require a solid work history upon which to draw anecdotes and above all, honesty. The hardest lie to tell is a complicated one, and no one is able to create convincing fiction in response to all of these questions. If the proper work history, ethics, and attitudes are not present in a particular candidate, you will learn that fact in a non-traditional interview and save yourself the time and money involved in hiring someone that only seems to have it all.

NOTICE: The information is provided as a convenience to employers. It is not intended to represent legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the interview process, you would be well advised to discuss them with a labor attorney.

The application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) recently opened and VHA Business Services wanted to take a moment to provide an explanation about the program as well as the requirements for it. 

The Paycheck Protection Program and Veterinary ClinicsAbout the Program

According to the Small Business Association (SBA), the PPP is “a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.” The reason this program is going to be popular is that the SBA will forgive the loan if: 

  • All employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks; 
  • And money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. 

If you are not eligible for loan forgiveness, the loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%. 

Payroll costs can include: 

  • Salary, wages, commissions, or similar compensation to employees whose principal place of residence is the United States; 
  • Cash tips or the equivalent (Based on employer records of past tips or good-faith employer estimates); 
  • Payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; 
  • Allowances for separation or dismissal; 
  • Payment for employee benefits including group health care coverage, insurance premiums, and retirement; 
  • Payment of state and local taxes assessed on the compensation of employees; or 
  • For an independent contractor or sole proprietor, wage, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment or similar compensation. 

Exclusions to payroll costs include: 

  • Compensation for employees who reside outside of the United States; 
  • Compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000, prorated as necessary; 
  • Federal employment taxes withheld between February 15 – June 30, 2020, including FICA and Railroad Retirement Act Taxes, and income taxes required to be withheld from employees; and 
  • Qualified sick and family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under sections 7001 and 7003 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 

Independent contractors do not count as employees for the purpose of PPP loan calculations because they can file for the program themselves. 

This program will be available until June 30, 2020, and businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. 

This program is not just for anyone – it’s specifically for any small business with less than 500 employees that have been affected by COVID-19. It is also on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible organizations include: 

  • Sole proprietorships 
  • Independent contractors 
  • Self-employed persons 
  • Private non-profit organizations 
  • 501(c)(19) veterans’ organizations 
  • Businesses in certain industries that have more than 500 employees if they meet certain SBA standards for those specific industries 
  • Hospitality and food industry small businesses with more than one location and individual locations employ less than 500 workers 


As stated earlier, this loan may be forgiven if the business keeps all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and the money given is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. As of April 6, the SBA states that at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll. In addition, “Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.” 

Additional eligibility requirements that you must have been in operation on February 15, 2020 and either had employees for whom you paid salaries and payroll taxes or paid independent contractors as reported on a Form 1099-MISC. You must submit the proper documentation needed to establish eligibility, such as payroll processor records, payroll tax filings, or Form 1099-MISC, or income and expenses from a sole proprietorship. 

If you do not have that information, you must be able to provide supporting documentation such as bank records that are sufficient enough to demonstrate qualifying payroll amounts. 

If you or a business owned and controlled by you has obtained a direct or guaranteed loan from SBA or another federal agency and is delinquent or defaulted on the loan within the last seven years, you are not eligible for the program. 

How Much Can I Borrow?

The maximum loan amount is the lesser $10 million or an amount you calculate using the payroll-based formula outlined below: 

  • Step 1: Aggregate payroll costs for the last 12 months. 
  • Step 2: Subtract any compensation paid to an employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,00 and/or any amounts paid to an independent contractor or sole proprietor in excess of $100,000 per year. 
  • Step 3: Calculate the average monthly payroll costs (Step 2 divided by 12) 
  • Step 4: Multiply Step 3 by 2.5 
  • Step 5: If you applied and received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan between January 31 – April 3, 2020, add the outstanding amount less the amount of any “advance” under an EIDL COVID-19 loan as it does not have to be repaid. 


No Employees Over $100,000

  • Step 1: Annual payroll is $120,000 
  • Step 2: No employees are over $100,000 so skip 
  • Step 3: Average monthly payroll: $10,000 ($120,000 / 12) 
  • Step 4: Multiply $10,000 by 2.5 = $25,000 
  • Step 5: Skip 
  • Final: Maximum loan amount is $25,000 

Few Employees Over $100,000

  • Step 1: Annual payroll is $1,500,000 
  • Step 2: Subtract compensation amounts in excess of an annual salary of $100,000: $1,500,000 - $300,000 = $1,200,00 
  • Step 3: Average monthly qualifying payroll: $100,000 ($1,200,000 / 12) 
  • Step 4: Multiply by $100,000 by 2.5 = $250,000 
  • Step 5: Skip 
  • Final: Maximum loan amount is $250,000 

Few Employees Over $100,000 + Outstanding EIDL Loan of $10,000

  • Step 1: Annual payroll is $1,500,000 
  • Step 2: Subtract compensation amounts in excess of an annual salary of $100,000: $1,500,000 - $300,000 = $1,200,00 
  • Step 3: Average monthly qualifying payroll: $100,000 ($1,200,000 / 12) 
  • Step 4: Multiply by $100,000 by 2.5 = $250,000 
  • Step 5: Add EIDL Loan of $10,000 = $260,000 
  • Final: Maximum loan amount is $260,000 


The amount forgiven depends on the total amount of payroll costs, payments of interest on mortgage obligations, rent payments, and utility payments – all incurred before February 15, 2020 – over the eight week period following the date of the loan. Not more than 25% of the loan forgiveness amount may be attributed to non-payroll costs. 

It is imperative that businesses have their bookkeeping and payroll in order and keep a meticulous record of the payments made utilizing the funds borrowed through the PPP program. VHA Business Services has been supporting veterinary clinics in maintaining and improving their bookkeeping and payroll processes. We are continuing to support our members by keeping clear and concise records of funds distributed through these loans. If you are in need of help or support with tracking all your payments made with these funds, please let us know we are here to help support you.    

If you are interested in learning more about these services, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I continued to be amazed at the adaptability of the veterinary industry. Each day, a new hurdle has been put in your way. Being told what services you are or are not allowed to perform in your clinic, being responsible for the direct health and safety of your employees and clients in a whole new level you never imagined, coordinating technology that has become essential to your everyday existence, and finding a way to keep your doors open every day. There are many options, opportunities, and resources out there to help you with these immense amounts of decisions and issues. VHA is one of many, and if at any time you have any questions, concerns, ideas, or just need someone to talk one of your decisions through with, please reach out to us and let us be there for you. Any of our VHA staff is more than willing, and if we don’t know, we will help find out for you! 

New information, thoughts, and opinions about the Paycheck Protection Program continue to pop up daily, while solid regulations and guidance from the SBA and Department of Treasury are lacking. We have been working to stay up-to-date on it all to help you stay current and make informed decisions. We continue to work on staying current on all of the new details and also are working on helping keep you organized to guarantee as much as possible so that your forgiveness comes through when it is time. With all of that in mind, we have developed a few FAQs below that we will try to continue to add to as things further develop. Some are revised from before as new information is made available, and some are new.  If you have anything not answered here, please let Business Services know.

If I have not applied for a PPP loan, am I too late? 

Yes and no. Currently, the PPP through the SBA has been refunded by Congress, and the SBA opened to new applications. However, this time around, the SBA has limited the banks on the number of applications that are processed per hour from each bank. So far, the funds have not run out, but the banks are still working through the applications that were backlogged from the first rounds as well. If you have not applied, I encourage you to contact your banker and inquire if they are still taking applications. Many banks are still accepting applications and could give you a better idea of where you stand in the queue.  

If I applied but have not heard back yet, does that mean I did not get the loan? 

Not necessarily, especially if your loan is still from the first application wave and is being submitted in this latest application period. However, please make sure to reach out to the banker that was processing your application. They might have more insight.

Does the forgiveness period end on June 30th? Do I have until then to get my payroll back up to date?  

No, once you receive your funds, your eight-week period starts then. June 30th was the last possible date for application. The intention of this program is to encourage businesses to bring back their staff to full-time sooner rather than later. Once you receive the loan, it is intended that you are supposed to bring back your staff to full time. 

What if I do not have the sales, business, or hours to support my staff at full time now?  

Whether you have the sales/work or not, I would encourage you to be creative in coming up with things for your staff to do. It does not have to be the traditional workload. You can have them do more CE, file, do callbacks, call reminders, call and check in on your patients just to see how they are doing, have them do clean up around the outside of the clinic, or have them come in after-hours and give your clinic that spiffing up you have intended to do but have not had the time to do in a while However, the goal of this program is to have employees on payroll and not unemployed, so even if you do not have work for them to do, it is encouraged that you pay your employees anyway instead of keeping them laid off or on reduced hours.

We received the PPP money, but we have an employee that is on unemployment and does not want to return. Our understanding is that our FTE needs to be back to what it was before February 15th. Will this create an issue in getting our loan reimbursed?

The SBA released that no, however, there are stipulations. The employer must show in good faith a documented written offer of rehire, and the employee’s rejection of that offer must be documented as well. Please keep in mind that the employee’s rejection of that offer of re-employment in most cases may forfeit their eligibility for unemployment insurance.  In these cases, please remember that an employee continuing to collect unemployment insurance while either receiving full compensation or being offered re-employment and declining could be considered fraud and result in penalties and need to repay the money received. Also, as an employer, knowing of an employee doing so and not reporting it to the Unemployment Office may hold you liable as well. We strongly encourage you to document your interactions with this employee.

We received the PPP money, but we are currently in the middle of a pay period. Do we need to run a separate payroll?

I am under the impression no. With payroll taxes and other liabilities related to payroll expenses, they typically are applied accounted to the pay date of that payroll. With this government-funded program, I assume it will be a similar concept that the payroll dates that are counted to your 8-week period will be the pay dates of those payrolls. They would be counting the day the funds are paid out, not accrued on a day-by-day basis.

Now I have the money from the loan, do I need to do anything differently with it?  

Yes! You will need to track that money and show a trail of exactly what you spent it on. This is key to getting the loan forgiven. The process is not 100% determined yet, and each lender will be the one you are asking forgiveness from, but they have not received the guidance yet. So with the end result unknown, the best course of action is to keep extremely detailed records. It is impossible to go back in history and redo something, so make it easy on yourself and overdo it now, so you don’t have to worry about it later.

What are good ways to track the money?  

There are a couple of options that all would work. We have provided a few options but encourage you to consult with your CPA on if they have a preference.

  • Put the money directly in a separate account, savings, or checking and run all expenses through that account.
  • Set up a class within your Quickbooks so you can tag all the appropriate expenses with the PPP class tag. Then you can run a Profit and Loss statement for just that class code.
  • Create a holding account in your Chart of Accounts for these funds.

Right now, you do not know if the funds will be forgiven or not, so you can run the expenses through that account and thus track them all back to that specific money. Once you know the money has been forgiven or not, you can account for that liability account in the appropriate place in your balance sheet.

I have heard that the SBA is reviewing loan applications?  

The SBA announced that they would be reviewing all loans to make sure they met eligibility requirements. They have initiated a period until May 14th that you may repay the loan and be considered to meet the criteria that you made the required certification in good faith. If you are not repaying the loan before that date and intend to keep and use the loan as it was intended, it is recommended that you document your reasoning that you met the requirements of the loan, mainly be able to be confident in your reasoning behind the application.

Are there restrictions on what I can use the money for?  

Yes. 75% of the loan needs to be used for payroll costs.  

Is the loan forgivable? 

Yes. The amount determined for forgiveness depends in part on how much you spend in the eight weeks. The amount of your payroll returning to normal is important for two reasons. First, if you have not shown strides in returning your workforce, then based on the purpose of the program, you could stand not to have our loan forgiven. Secondly, if you do not spend as much on your payroll as you usually do, thus you do not spend the full amount you were given the loan for, not all of it will be forgiven. They will not give you extra money beyond the outline of what they are giving you the funds to begin with.

For additional details, please visit SBA – Final Rule for PPP.  For FAQ’s from the SBA, please visit SBA – PPP FAQs.

Before the onslaught of the global coronavirus pandemic, the veterinary industry was already weeding their way through a pandemic of their own: a lack of candidates for open positions. Clinics are expanding in line with the Department of Labor Statistics projection for an increase of 19% for veterinary jobs by 2026. However, the amount of CVT’s and DVM’s are on the decline, and clinics are struggling to keep properly staffed. Technicians, in particular, are hard to find! In a recent search on Indeed.com, over 100 open postings for CVT’s were listed in the Twin Cities area alone. With increased pressures on clinic owners in general, keeping good and loyal staff is a must during this time.

COVID VHA Keep Employees EmployeedNow more than ever, employees need understanding and flexibility from employers. Not only for employees who might be sick or have a family member sick but for those who are immunocompromised or have kids doing distance learning. Right now might feel like the worst time for an employee to be out, but it’s not a cakewalk for anyone on either end.

So how what can you do to navigate this staffing crisis? Clinics that can be flexible have the greatest chance of keeping valuable employees who, when able to return to normal work, will be even more loyal and satisfied with their job. Being flexible does not necessarily just mean providing time off and can include looking for different ways to keep your employees working while remaining socially distant.

For example, if you are fully staffed but want to keep things safe, consider expanding your hours and decreasing the number of appointments you book and, in turn, how many staff you have in the clinic during the day. You can stagger staff so that you have two groups that do not overlap. Then if someone from one group becomes ill, or has been exposed to COVID, you have a second set of staff that has not been. This also allows for more flexibility to help your staff navigate other life disruptions like school hours.

If your phone lines are crazy, consider at-home customer service help. Upgrade to a digital phone system that can let your employee log in from home. At-home employees can also assist with marketing and promotions. They can send out reminders, complete sympathy cards, and keep your social media and website up to date.

Remember to investigate those projects that you have been putting off! You can ask at-home employees to call inactive clients and follow up with clients that are overdue for immunizations and wellness checkups. They can cold call competitors and browse Chewy and other online retailers to ensure that your pricing is in line with market standards. Employees working from home can also help with digitizing past paper records. 

CE requirements have not gone by the wayside due to COVID, so consider having them use their time for working from home for continuing education. With so many virtual CE events available, including many free, now is a great time for them to get caught up!

Employees do not have to be at home to keep socially distant and productive. Think outside the box, or even outside of the clinic! Employees can be tasked with touching up signs or even weeding an overgrown flower bed and prepping landscaping for winter. With wait times in the parking lot a little longer than normal, consider having employees spruce up a walking garden or area for pets to visit while waiting for an appointment. Inside the clinic employees could come in after normal hours to repaint, change out old pictures, do inventory, or clean out those files that have been collecting dust since 1999!

There are many options if you are open to let your employees and your imagination run free. Just because it’s not what they did before or even what they were hired to do does not mean they can’t do it now to stay part of your team! Let your employees know that you are flexible and considerate of their needs during this time and willing to help keep them employed in whatever capacity that may be.

As always, VHA is here to help should you need us. If you are struggling with recruiting, bookkeeping, marketing, or just need some fresh ideas for keeping your staff on board, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can help you navigate!