Selecting the Pick of the Crop
Date: 11th April 2015
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You may well be thinking, what on earth could I learn from MasterChef? How can we link cooking to recruiting?

As a ‘don’t cook won’t cook’ armchair spectator of MasterChef, I admit that I am more interested in how the contestants react under pressure and rise to the challenges facing them, than the food they produce. Over the last few weeks I have snuggled into my couch in the evenings with my feet up and a cup of tea to do my ‘research’.

I was delighted when self-effacing Simon Wood won.

Wasn’t his quiet determination throughout theFor use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of Simon Wood who has been crowned the winner of the 2015 series of the BBC programme Masterchef. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday April 24, 2015. See PA story SHOWBIZ Masterchef. Photo credit should read: Shine TV/BBC/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge only for the purpose of publicising or reporting on current BBC programming, personnel or other BBC output or activity within 21 days of issue. Any use after that time MUST be cleared through BBC Picture Publicity. Please credit the image to the BBC and any named photographer or independent programme maker, as described in the caption. gruelling contest an interesting contrast to the other finalists?

On the one hand we had methodical detailed Tony epitomised by the precisely waxed ends of his moustache.  On the other the wholesome, big flavours of Emma.

When recruiting we strive to achieve the perfect balance of culture, attitude and skills. What are the ingredients Simon has, that we can learn from?

Puts feeling into his work…

  • Massimo Bottura, the three-Michelin-starred Italian chef complimented Simon for being so in tune with his cooking. Massimo noticed how Simon constantly tastes his food rather than hoping the flavours will work. He’s not winging it; he uses his taste buds to check and tweak the flavours constantly.

Works well under pressure…

  • Cooking in a field kitchen for the Red Arrows flying squad was a high pressure task. Simon led his team in a quietly confident non egotistical manner, letting his team members play to their individual culinary strengths. The meal they produced together was the star of the show!

Masterful use of ingredients…

  • What set Simon apart, was his ability to work with ingredients he had never set eyes on before (such as in Sweden and during invention tests). He instinctively knew how the ingredients would behave when put together to create a perfect dish, making the best of each and every situation!


  • Simon’s reaction when handed the trophy revealed something that made me smile. A growth mind-set! When asked what he was going to do next, Simon said “I am going to work hard to get better!”

So what can we learn from reality TV?

Recruiting is about constantly learning and refining our approaches to get the best out of the ingredients we select to turn them into a winning banquet.

Watching reality TV like MasterChef, which captures real people in high pressure situations, allows us to practice identifying key skills and characteristics and ultimately, top performers. What is it that makes them top performers?

Next time you step into the interview room, you’ll know exactly what (and who) to look for…

If you would like to read more of our tips for hiring the perfect candidates, download our free guide to recruitment today.