Articles From the Team

Apprentice Week 7 – We Need to Talk about Elizabeth

I’m a keen hillwalker and so get drawn to films and documentaries about mountaineering and the like. Two very good examples of this genre are K2: The Killer Summit which concerns a disastrous 2008 attempt to climb K2 which saw 11 people lose their lives, and then there’s the 2015 film Everest, which tells the story of a similarly disastrous 1996 attempt to reach the summit of Everest, which saw 12 people perish.

What I leaned from these films is that one error of judgement put the climbers in peril, but the situation was still retrievable. However, when the expeditions compounded their first error with a second poor decision, they were doomed. Now, at the risk of sounding callous, this week’s Apprentice saw James’s team doomed to failure after two poor decisions.

Now, I’m no car buff, but I do have a quality seeming to be in short supply among or contenders: common sense. The teams got a limited edition Ford Fiesta to launch and promote. I can think of three target markets for a Ford Fiesta – first car for a younger person (the market Michaela’s team chose), as a second car for a family of some means, or as a run around for a more elderly person. It is not a family car. Not unless you have a family of dwarves (which, outside of the world of The Hobbit’s Shire, is a very niche market). James’s team pitched it as a family car. Mistake number one; James is in peril, but the situation is not lost yet.

OK, we can still pull this off team, right? So, let’s choose a location where we will shoot our ad and build our story. The teams were given a list of locations with descriptions and thumbnail pictures. Family car – so you’d think housing estate and the school run, right? Something like that. Too simple. James’s team choose a “Norman village”. Now, presumably they thought they were choosing a rural village with a Norman church (well, at least that’s what I think they were aiming for, otherwise they really are that stupid). But no, they had chosen a recreation Norman village, complete with huts, geese and smoking fires. Second bad decision after an initial bad decision: they were doomed, absolutely, irredeemably doomed.

So, for all the flapping about and anxiety about pitches, the show was over, there was only ever going to be one winner. James’s team were so far off beam that Michaela’s team could have pitched the car as a motorised wheelbarrow and still have won.

I’m disappointed by James’s poor showing this week – he’s looked quite able up until now, but he was bulldozed by Bashra and, of course, Elizabeth. We need to talk about Elizabeth. At first I thought she was the quirky outsider; a loveable oddball, swimming against a tide of slime exhaled by the Alpha types ahead of her. She’d gamely struggle on with a smile and childlike optimism as the others bullied and ostracised her. But no, Elizabeth is the bully. She is someone WHO SPEAKS A LITTLE LOUDER, ENUNCIATING ONE – SY-LLA-BLE AT A TIME BECAUSE I AM RATIONAL AND YOU ARE SILLY in order to make her point. She tries to convey herself as the voice of reason without listening to what someone else’s reasons might be. When she does pretend to listen to someone, it is with a look on her face as if she is trying to pass a set of bathroom taps. She, in my opinion, has that Rees – Moggian arrogance that just assumes that she is obviously right and everyone else is clearly a little slow and clearly wrong. And so we have Elizabeth in the advert, wrapped in her conceit and self indulgence, chasing geese through a Norman village before cramming her six foot frame into a Fiesta, to drive her henpecked, TV ad family to school for the happiest hours of their sad lives.

All of which brings me to this week’s tenuous recruitment link. I liked Elizabeth after the first week. If I was involved in a one stage selection process I might have taken a punt and hired her. So, first point, there is a great advantage to having a robust, multi staged recruitment process. Then, as the next two or three weeks progressed, it slowly dawned me that I might have got it wrong about Elizabeth, but I didn’t want to believe it. I had put a halo around her head, so when recruiting, beware the halo effect and not using the second and third stages of recruitment processes to test a candidate who may have shone at first, and to test them in different ways. Failure to do so might leave you lumbered with an Elizabeth.

For more information contact Rob Barklamb at BCL Legal.

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