Why You Should Never Hire on an Impulse

Have you ever hired the "ideal person" who right after the trial period ended up demonstrating a "wolf hiding in sheep's clothing" personality?

The following case study (and true story) illustrates one of the deadliest mistakes many recruiters make when assessing an applicant's potential: they rely too much on their first impressions - not realizing that what they see during the interview process can be VERY different later.

A physical therapist loses her successful practice soon after she hired an over-emotional assistant who had been hiding her tendency to violence as well as her addiction to psychiatric & recreational drugs.

Jill owned and operated a physical therapy clinic in Texas.  She needed a trained assistant therapist; the practice was growing fast and it was becoming a challenge for Jill to be able to service her patients best, due to work overload. So she posted a recruitment ad in the local papers and on a few online job boards.

One of Jill's friend recommended Laura, a young person who was just looking for that type of position. After a quick interview, Jill hired Laura who seemed to be personable and cheerful. Plus, her resume fitted almost perfectly with the requirements stated in the ad.

Laura soon revealed a very nervous, unstable and fearful disposition. On one occasion (after being on post for less than one month), she was having more difficulties than usual to deal with the pressure at work. She became hysterical in front of the patients and showed obvious signs of verbal violence with one particular patient. Jill had to restrain her by grasping her by her upper arms, to ensure that she would not physically hurt the patient.

Once in her office, Jill tried to persuade Laura to calm down and come to her senses. Laura's reaction was even more [verbally] violent, in response to which Jill, losing her temper, told her she was fired.

Laura filed charges of assault and battery, for being "physically aggressed by the practice owner." Jill was charged. She had to pay a heavy fine and served several months on supervised probation. This ruined her reputation, causing her to close her practice and relocate to another state to start all over.

WHAT DID JILL DO WRONG AND WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE?Jill hired Laura "on an impulse." That opened the door to huge subjectivity in her selection process. She made terrible mistakes which unfortunately are quite common in the small business world.

  • She hired Laura on initial impressions and failed to evaluate the candidate's TRUE, non-temporary personality.
  • She did not have a formal job description. She should have taken the time to develop a comprehensive job description for the position - forcing her to really understand what type of person was needed on the job.
  • She acted fast because of the pressure at work - and hired the first candidate available. She should have looked at interviewing at least 5 to 8 applicants, to be more able to assess the best profile for the job.
  • She relied most entirely on the candidate's resume. She should have used a standard job application form, as resumes may contain lies or false information, as well as potentially illegal data.
  • She should have required Laura to demonstrate evidence of any specific qualification. She just trusted what she was seeing & was told; she totally fell into the temporary personality trap.
  • She should have done a reference check with previous employers. She did not even ask for any reference, blindly trusting the source of the recommendation.
  • She should also have requested a background check. She would have discovered that Laura had a history of violence and had been institutionalized.  She was on psychiatric drugs during her employment and also did recreational drugs.
  • She could have also administered a good personality test which would have revealed hidden job-related personality traits and weaknesses.
  • A good legal drug screening would also have revealed that Laura was addicted to psychiatric and
    recreational drugs.
  • When Jill was sent to court by her disgruntled employee, she had no "ammunition" to present in her favor. The lack of documentation and the obvious subjectivity of her hiring process were the easiest and deadliest weapons used against her.


NEVER hire on an impulse. Even with the "perfect" candidate recommended by a friend or any trusted person, apply your full hiring procedure (covering for example the points listed above). This is of course assuming that you do operate a standard hiring process in the company. If not, it would be the first thing to change. Not applying a good, standard hiring process is a guaranteed legal liability and opens the door to another terrible mistake: allowing subjectivity to guide your selection decision.  When it comes to hiring the right people, subjectivity is the silent killer.

Patrick Valtin,
author of "No-Fail Hiring."

Original article from NoFailHiring.com