REC on BrewDog's 'disaster' in BBC recruitment show Who's The Boss

REC on BrewDog's 'disaster' in BBC recruitment show Who's The Boss

BrewDog’s appearance on the BBC Two reality recruitment show Who’s The Boss ended in “disaster” after the collaborative hiring process broke down halfway through the episode.

The show’s Tuesday episode ended quite awkwardly for the Scottish craft beer company. It started with a recruitment expert choosing three candidates for the role of Regional Area Manager. The applicants were then sent to the company’s head office to be assessed by BrewDog’s staff.

However, the collaborative hiring experiment quickly turned sour when Founder James Watt decided that none of the candidates were fit for the role. Instead, he offered them another role, which prompted two of the candidates to abandon their attempt to get a job at the beverage company. The third candidate, who was offered the role by default, eventually declined the offer too.

“Well. That was a bit of a disaster,” Watt wrote on Twitter after the show. “Being completely uncompromising when it comes to recruiting is great for a business. But bad for TV.”

However, the “disaster” could have been avoided, according to Kevin Green, Chief Executive at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC). The organisation has shared its expertise with the producers of the show. Speaking exclusively with Recruitment Grapevine, he says: “’Who’s the Boss? showed three companies trying collaborative hiring for the first time and in the first two instances it worked very well.

“The candidates that were put forward to BrewDog were credible. It didn’t work out because, from the outset, BrewDog’s leadership hadn’t fully bought into the candidates or the process.

“James and his management team should have been fully comfortable with the candidates and the process before filming started. Good communication is always key to the partnership between client and recruiter.

“For the collaborative hiring model to work, the employer should have confidence that all the candidates have the skills and experience to do the role. You then get staff to decide collaboratively on which of those candidates is the best fit. That’s not what happened in this instance.”   

What is the main thing recruiters should keep in mind in order to get collaborative hiring right?

“Recruiters need to be upfront about the benefits of collaborative hiring, but also about the potential risks if it doesn’t work out. In BrewDog’s case, trust was given to the staff to make an important decision, and then wrenched away again. That’s not good for anyone involved.”  

The REC recently warned that the talent gaps in the UK are going to become worse as the country’s unemployment figures continues to slide.


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Comments (5)

  • Em
    Fri, 1 Apr 2016 12:55pm BST
    I am intrigued as to whether the requirement for the candidates to have experience as an area manager already in hospitality was given to the recruiter at the beginning of the process or was only said the the recruiter during the awkward phone call. If the former, then the recruiter didn't supply candidates with the necessary experience, but if the latter then not all the blame can be laid at his door. Yes culturally the 3 candidates were not a fit - this was evident from the point they walked into HQ, and something the recruiter should've taken into consideration. But if the latter, and recruiter hadn't been told that specific experience was necessary, then it was unfair on the recruiter to move the goal posts so far.
  • Jim
    Wed, 30 Mar 2016 9:22am BST
    Yes, it was a bit of a disaster at the very least. I suspect for this episode the makers were focused on good TV rather than good collaborative recruitment. We were lucky they facilitated good processes for the other two programmes. I guess you get more viewers by having everything thrown in the air. We saw inappropriate selection, a disengaged client with instantly mobile goalposts, and a whole team of fantastic motivated staff made to feel worthless.
    I am sure the viewing public (candidates and employers) learned a lot from this; particularly that it is important to engage really closely with a professional recruiter that wants to understand your business, and to set out a clear process from the start and see it through. There needs to be some flexibility built in too so that you can flex mid process if need be.
    In the real world the recruiter would have met the client, fully understood the needs and culture of the business, PLUS understood all the other roles they needed to fill and discussed how candidates could be right for more than one with all parties from the outset.
    I am pleased that an engaging TV show has been made with recruitment as it's subject.

  • Adam Gordon
    Adam Gordon
    Sat, 12 Mar 2016 10:01pm GMT
    Peter, Matt's Head of Talent at Lyst (the fashion ecommerce company) and a regular conference speaker and well known recruitment expert.

    What we haven't at all seen is how the shortlist was created. He may well have been given the shortlist, given a slightly longer list from which to choose 'the best' from the bunch or it may have been the most relevant applicants from a job board advert. What is completely clear is that he hadn't had a conversation with James Watt in advance. I would assume based on Watt's puerile scribblings about 'recruitment people' that he believed he was above giving a proper brief and thought he'd use the TV opportunity to belittle someone. He seemed to relish doing it.

    In no normal situation would Matt Buckland not know the role, hiring manager and candidates inside out and back to front.
  • Jen
    Fri, 11 Mar 2016 4:05pm GMT
    The fact we have to come up with yet another buzz word bingo term (collaborative hiring) says it all. Collaborative hiring is just how recruitment should be done. If you aren't doing it, you aren't a proper recruiter. #facepalm
  • Peter
    Fri, 11 Mar 2016 3:50pm GMT
    Wow. Just wow. I watched this episode and as a recruiter myself I was actually embarrassed to even be in this industry with "Consultants" like "Matt" knocking about. The fact that none of the candidates were a culture or character fit on any level immediately tells me "Matt" had not had any real meetings or dealings with anyone at BrewDog (AKA THE END CLIENT) which upon receiving any role with a new client you're not familiar with so requires. The candidates were not prepared properly meaning their “Consultant” had not properly briefed them about the client- they all turned up to the interviews in suits. Had they been A) a correct culture fit and B) correctly briefed, they would have turned up casually dressed and with at least a slight passion for beer perhaps? How “Matt” is still successfully employed is a mystery to me.

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