BBC2 Who’s the Boss? – Cultural Fit Versus Experience

Over the last three Wednesday mornings the Collingwood team have been discussing the previous night’s television, and, in particular, the BBC2 show ‘Who’s the Boss?’ The concept of the show is to showcase "collaborative recruitment" which allows the whole workforce to vote for their favourite candidate, rather than letting the senior leadership team decide. The candidates were put through a week of tests and interviews before the vote was cast by the workforce at the end of the week. 

As recruiters ourselves and the fact that I also work in the FMCG market myself I was particularly drawn to two episodes about Brew Dog and Beechs Fine Chocolates.

The concept of the program gave a fantastic insight into the importance of relevant experience, but more importantly, the cultural fit that candidates must have. Some of the recruitment concepts and ideas were also interesting to hear. Here are my own reflections on the programme:

Passion and Pride for the Company

The Beechs Fine Chocolates episode was a fantastic opportunity to see a business with employees showing such passion for the company for whom they work. Some of the factory workers had been with the business for 40+ years and you could see that they were taking their new decision-making power to heart. It was also interesting to see how the top level staff integrated with the factory workers as well as how they communicated their vision and ideas with the business.

Cultural Fit

The two cultural differences between Beechs and Brew Dog were interesting and polarised. Beechs was a family owned, traditional business, giving the impression that they often didn’t step outside their comfort zone. At Brew Dog, the business was perceived as ‘young and dynamic’ and was happy to take risks and think outside the box.

Comments from the workforce at Brew Dog, in particular, were around the candidates not ‘fitting the culture’ or they ‘didn’t look the part’. If you didn’t have tattoos or a beard you would struggle to fit in!

Both the roles at Beechs and Brew Dog were Commercial appointments, is it, therefore, more important for the candidates to be able to increase sales or ‘fit in’? 

Had the recruiter met the candidates face to face?

In the Brew Dog episode James the Owner or “Captain” as he likes to be known, challenged the recruiter about the candidates he had put in front of him. None had the relevant experience as a Retail Regional Manager for the role, but the recruiter argued around the transferable skills on offer. James also highlighted that the recruiter hadn't even listened to the brief. This again links back to cultural fit. Had the recruiter met the candidates face to face? Or had he just telephone screened them? I am guessing the latter. If he had listened to the brief and met candidates face to face he would have given a better judgement and presented individuals that fit the Brew Dog culture and had the relevant experience. There was no consultancy approach from the Recruitment Consultant who seemed to know Brew Dog's needs better than James the co-founder!

Interview Preparation

From the episodes, it was evident that some of the candidates hadn’t done their research into the company and were often over-elaborating and were a bit cringe-worthy with some of their answers and ways of working. In the Beechs episode, one of the candidates couldn’t even work out a product margin when in front of the Buyer!

In the Brew Dog episode, they were set a task to find items when out shopping that related to their ‘Charter’ (Business Values) and then present them back to the interview panel. 2 out of the 3 candidates hadn’t even read the Charter! Interview preparation is key to a successful interview; don’t be too elaborate as you will only trip yourself up!

Interesting Interview Questions

Finally, it was good to see some of the interview techniques and questions adopted by others.

Here are two that James at Brew Dog went for:

‘How would you empty a 747 that is full of jelly beans?’

‘If you could have two celebrities as parents, who would they be?’

One candidate questioned why he was asking such a silly question. He responded that we wanted to understand how quickly they can think on their feet and adapt to a situation.

I am interested to hear if anyone else has any interesting interview questions that they ask? Or what is the most interesting one you have been asked in an interview?

And before you ask, my answers would be….

….Fly as high and fast as I can and open the doors.

And…. Jack Nicklaus, as I'd love to learn how to play golf from the greatest golfer of all time, and Nigella Lawson, as I would never have a poor meal again!


Overall I like the idea of collaborative recruitment but both episodes proved that having the right calibre of candidates is critical for a successful outcome.

For over 10 years Collingwood has been partnering FMCG, Food and Retail businesses to strengthen their foundations and accelerate their performance. We do this by identifying, acquiring, aligning and enabling senior level talent. Forming long-term partnerships, we look to understand our client’s culture and vision, conducting all our interviews face to face. We are passionate about partnering businesses with similar values to ourselves.

For more information on how we could help call us on +44 1829 732374.

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