The Story Behind the Successful Search

2010 - present

2010 - present

Case Studies

On Hiring

"Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity.

What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it's personality."


Richard Branson

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There’s a story behind every successful search. Given the amount of experience we have, we probably have a client who has faced challenges and seized opportunities like yours.


We’ve captured some of these stories to illustrate how Hire Quality has helped clients deal with different executive search situations - from finding the best leader to steer a company through rapid growth, helping an organization through founder transition or sourcing candidates to steer an department through major change.




                  1. PRODUCT MANAGER


Our client is an international manufacturing company in the building products industry. Their market is primarily North America. They had an opening for a Product Manager.


Issue:  At the direction of the CEO, we spoke to the divisional General Manager about our simulation based hiring process. He stated that they had conducted numerous interviews for the Product Manager's position and had already selected a candidate to which they were prepared to make an offer. In other words, they had their guy! However, since the Product Manager was a critical position and that, as an organization, they had a poor track record in hiring for this role, he would use our service to confirm their decision.


Solution:  At the beginning I asked that they not disclose the name of their top candidate and thereby possibly bias the process. After meeting with the divisional management team, we designed a number of job specific simulations. We then put three candidates through the process, their number one and two other qualified applicants.


Our second simulation was a product management meeting with the General Manager. It was designed to be an interactive white board brain storming session that would allow candidates to express their ideas and approach to taking a particular product to market. Before the meeting candidates were given background information on the product. This was a real building product that was half way through its development life cycle.


About ten minutes into this meeting the top candidate fell apart. It was apparent that he was clearly lost, like a deer caught in the headlights. There was a significant gap between his alleged experience and his actual knowledge. It was tough to watch.


Result:  The General Manager was shaken. He said that without our job simulations he would have repeated the same hiring mistake that had precipitated this recruitment effort!


His top candidate was a classic case of a great interviewer but a poor performer, once you turned up the heat. There is no where to hide in our job simulations. The client hired the two other candidates. One of them has become one of the best hires they have ever made!






Our client is a manufacturing company that provides engineered solutions for mechanical systems in the construction industry. Their market is Canada and the United States. They had an opening for a Vice President of Sales & Marketing.


Issue:  The client had retained a reputable search firm for this recruitment effort. The CEO, having heard about the Hire Quality process, was intrigued and asked us to be part of the selection process. This position was the most senior the company had ever gone to the outside market for and they wanted to ensure they got it right. We got involved once the search had been narrowed to three candidates.


Solution:  We asked the CEO and the current VP of Sales & Marketing to help us design and develop a number of job simulation scenarios that would accurately reflect the issues and challenges that the successful candidate would face once hired. The CEO requested that the senior recruiter be part of the candidate performance scoring process.


Result:  As we went through the various simulations and scored each candidate on core competencies for high level success, it became obvious that not one of the three was a clear winner. None of the candidates met the performance standard that the CEO had set for this position. They lacked the skills required to drive the company to the next level of growth. Even the recruiter agreed, for he had scored his own candidates!


The job simulations clearly showed that none of these candidates could successfully do the job where the bar had been set. The process enabled the CEO to avoid the temptation to hire second best. He ended up hiring one candidate as a Regional Sales Manager and began a new search for the VP role.




              3. GENERAL MANAGER


Our client is a provider of distributed workplace solutions. Their market focus is major urban centres across Canada. They had an opening for a General Manager.


Issue:  As a start up organization with a newly built facility, the position of General Manager was critical. The owners would be heavily dependent upon the GM's organizational planning skills to enable them to develop an operational template for future expansion. The GM would be the face of the company, providing stability and direction in the midst of the chaos of opening.


The CEO had already interviewed several candidates and had narrowed his choice to one individual. This candidate been interviewed numerous times by the principals, partners, investors and family. They really liked this person and were confident they had the right person. However, because of the importance of this position, they agreed to try our process as added insurance.


Solution:  We designed our job simulations with a view to what the GM's role would really entail. This was a position that did not exist - a start-up company with a new facility and a new service offering. It was seen as a 'cool' job. Our job simulations were designed to help both candidate and client step back and be objective.


The simulations take the 'sizzle' out of the hiring process and are a reality check for all participants. They forced everyone to focus on measurable performance competencies, not emotional responses (i.e. "I like him"). This position needed more than a Wal-Mart greeter. It required strong organizational skills and the ability to be resourceful and to prioritize on the fly.


Result:  Our second simulation was a telephone conversation where the candidates walked us through the Operational Plan that they had developed. Half way through one of the calls, the CEO realized that his number one candidate could not handle running this type of start-up. He was shocked. As a seasoned executive, he had done a lot of hiring in his career. The simulations made it clear to the client that she lacked the skills to be successful. It saved them from making a major hiring mistake.


The process also made it clear to the candidate that she was not a fit for the job at this point in her career. She realized that she would quickly be 'over her head' in this role. Our client ended making a very successful hire. However, the candidate they hired was someone who would not normally get to the second interview stage. He was not a good interviewer. The job simulations allowed him to demonstrate his real skills and ability. Our client got to see what he could really do for them in terms of organizational development and people/process management. They got to see their General Manager in action 'on-the-job' pre-hire. The choice was obvious!