Article Date: 6/1/2012

I Hired Some Real Lulus
lessons learned

I Hired Some Real Lulus

Good employess, like accurate references, are often hard to find.

Jack Runninger, O.D.

Once upon a time, I received a job reference form for a friend who was approximately two up on me in the dirty tricks department. Following are a few of the answers I sent in an attempt to get even:

  Q. How long have you known applicant?
  A. Too long.
  Q. Sex?
  A. Possibly. However if he is fooling around, his wife doesn’t know about it.
  Q. Is he thrifty?
  A. More like “cheap.”
  Q. Is he industrious?
  A. He’s not afraid of work. He can lay down and go to sleep right next to it.
  Q. Do you think he is well suited for this job?
  A. Yes.
  Q. Why?
  A. He’s failed at every other job he’s had. Thus it’s obvious by the process of elimination that this has to be what he’s suited for.

He got the job

They didn’t pay a lick of attention to my reference. He got the job. I learned a lesson from this episode, and decided, like this incident showed, that it’s probably best to be suspicious of written references.

Another problem is that often written references can be interpreted in the wrong way. I always loved the one where the former employer wrote, “He worked for us for eight months, and we are satisfied.”

Some examples

In my early years of practice before I understood all this, I hired some real lulu’s. One of them was always late for work.

“You should have been here at 8:00,” I once told her as she arrived at close to 8:30.

“Why, what happened?” was her reply.

Another one simplified her job by simply putting a red check mark on each receipt copy, indicating it had been posted to the patient’s account, without bothering to do so. Needless to say, we had a bunch of unhappy patients when they received their bills!

Oral vs. written

A later experience revealed a helpful lesson in future hiring of applicants. A young lady who worked for us unexpectedly and tragically passed away. A friend of hers applied for her job, and seemed ideal and we of course were in a hurry to hire someone. She had worked for a local physician and had a great personality. Her written references from the M.D. were excellent.

I knew the physician quite well, so I decided to phone him just to make certain. After some rather general favorable observations, I asked him, “If you had an opening right now, would you rehire her?”

“No,” he replied after a lengthy hesitation. “She was too undependable and unreliable, and her absentee record was bad.” From this, I learned that former employers are more willing to be honest in conversation than they are in writing.

I got better

Over the years experiences like these taught me to do a much better job of hiring. In fact I became too good at it.

“Do you know why I keep coming back to you all these years?” a patient who lived 80 miles away once asked me.

“No, why?” I asked modestly, curious as to whether it would be because of my skill, or my charm and good looks.

“It’s because the ladies in your office are always so warm and friendly, and seem genuinely interested in me,” was the deflating answer I received. OM


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: June 2012, page(s): 17