Case study: Senior executive search and recruitment

Applications of Clean, Clean in Business

When recruiting for very senior roles (£400k+) in the pharmaceutical industry, as in any business, you can’t afford mistakes. Tightly defined frameworks allow detailed assessment of competencies, and standard interview and meeting protocols gather the views of prospective colleagues. And still something extra was wanted – another kind of information to enrich the decision-making process.

Clean intervention

Consultant Louise Oram, from Berkshire, UK, has been able to find that extra ingredient using Clean techniques. “I always use Clean in addition to the standard process. And the interview can start in the same way, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ But it gives you a different class of information, because the interviewee starts thinking at a different level."

In the process, interviewees can discover more about themselves. One senior executive blustered into Louise’s office having just been made redundant at 55, saying that that no interview she could put him through would be worthwhile. "It’s obvious!" he declared.

She interviewed him using Clean questions, directing his attention precisely to make sure he explored key issues. Ten minutes in, he admitted: “You know, it’s not that obvious, is it?” And when his time was up, an hour of Clean questions later, he said: “I’ve never been through such a tough interview.”

In his new role, he has frequently asked Louise to conduct supplementary interviews of potential senior recruits.  She explained: “I’ll often be working with metaphor: ‘When you are in a team working at your best, you are like what?’ The metaphor brings out real preferences, rather than statements like: ‘I am a good team player’, and you can take the metaphor data and compare and contrast with the competency ratings and prospective colleagues’ impressions.

“For example, if the person says he works best ‘like a hermit’ he isn’t going to work in the environment we are recruiting for. A Clean interview makes the whole thing more rounded than the standard recruiting process.”


There’s more to a successful hire than an excellent standard interview. And, at the same time, the benefits of filling key roles with effective executives extend beyond the benefits to the individual and their team. The entire company can benefit from a great person doing exactly the right job for them.

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