Magazine article American Libraries

Will's World: Fruit-Fondling Tips 101

Magazine article American Libraries

Will's World: Fruit-Fondling Tips 101

Article excerpt

Thirty years ago, when I was a young library director in a small Wisconsin town, I botched my first hiring--an opening for a circulation clerk. After interviewing all of the candidates and checking the references of the best three, I selected a man named Larry.

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Larry was a self-described "people person" and his previous employer had nice things to say about him. In fact, the employer pretty much had him parting the waters one day and walking on them the next. That should have been my first clue: Larry's boss was too eager to get rid of him. He turned out to be quite moody. Within a month, he had developed ongoing personality conflicts with five staff members and numerous patrons. Larry saw his circulation job as a bill collector for overdue fines. In the staff lounge at lunchtime, he would brag about his prowess at bringing in money.

"Today, I got 60 bucks out of that old bat Mrs. Roberts," Larry once crowed.

"Isn't she the little old lady on social security who just got out of the hospital?" I asked.

"That's her," he responded. "Before she went into the hospital she should have taken care of her library responsibilities!"

"But, Larry," I argued, "She had a sudden stroke!"

At that point, I realized that Larry would also be my first fire. Fortunately, he spared me the ordeal. When Larry failed to show up for work for three straight days, I sent him a registered letter with his final paycheck. As happy as I was about Larry's departure, that's how embarrassed I was by my decision to hire him in the first place. My board president gave me some consoling advice that I have never forgotten: "Don't feel too bad, Will," he said. "Even Jesus was not perfect when it came to hiring. He made the mistake of selecting Judas to be a member of his team."

How to pick 'em

I have come to realize that while hiring people is not an exact science, it is also not as random as throwing darts on a barroom wall after consuming three margaritas. The methodology that I have developed is something I call "fruit fondling." Remember in the mid-'80s when mangoes became the hot new fruit to put into a salad? …

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