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Knickerbocker & Stevens Inc Management Psychology Consulting
Case Study - Selection Assessment: Professional-level (Chemical Engineer)

An industry-known and highly regarded chemical engineer was persuaded to consider a position with a mid-sized specialty-product manufacturing company.

The company’s VP of R&D was particularly anxious to hire this individual because of the pressure put on him by the CEO to fill this long-vacant position and to get at least one new product commercialized within the next calendar year.

Believing that the candidate’s reputation in the industry was sufficient to “just hire him”, the R&D-VP tried to do just that. However, the CEO intervened and insisted that the company’s standard hiring protocol be followed, which included having the candidate assessed by K&S for individual strengths, leadership capabilities, and ‘fit’ with the company.

While the candidate favorably impressed the interviewing team with his smooth demeanor and technical knowledge, the K&S evaluation raised questions about his ‘fit’ with the company. The K&S consultant suggested, among other things, that the candidate’s need to be seen and treated as ‘special’ and his relative disdain for supervisory authority may conflict with the company’s conservative, hierarchy-driven¬† culture.

Despite the reservations raised by the K&S assessment, the candidate was hired. Within six months the new hire had established for himself a reputation as a prima donna, demanding and getting concessions from management and pompously dismissing the views and ideas of his colleagues. After two key R&D professionals cited him as the reason that they were to preparing to resign, the VP of R&D tried to manage the individual more directly, but ultimately found his insolence and passive-resistance intolerable and fired him after only nine months on the job.

In a formal review of this hiring failure, it was acknowledged that the recommendations and suggestions from the K&S assessment on how to best supervise and manage this individual were largely ignored or only half-heartedly followed, almost ensuring, according to the CEO, “our inability to make a ‘good fit’ out of a ‘questionable one’.”¬†

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