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Idaho National Laboratory

Executive Summary

Potomac Recruiting was approached by Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to submit a proposal to assist INL with their search for a new Deputy Associate Laboratory Director for their National and Homeland Security Division. This was an extremely high profile search, and required a deep understanding of the government contracting space, candidates with extensive experience in research and development, and the ability to identify true leaders that could help INL achieve their short and long term plans.

INL is one of the premier members of the U.S. Department of Energy’s complex of national laboratories. They work in each of the strategic goal areas of the DOE, which include energy, national and homeland security, as well as science and environment. They are internationally recognized as the leader in critical infrastructure protection, for their work in the National and Homeland Security arena. As a research and development facility, INL is unique in its capabilities and record of success, and finding the right candidate to help them build on their success was of utmost importance.

INL identified Potomac Recruiting because of our expertise in placing successful executives and leaders with government contractors. We provided INL with a proposal that provided great detail into our recruiting methodology, which focuses not only on the skills a candidate would need to be successful, but also the culture of a company and its plans in the next 5 years. Our unique behavioral and situational based interview process is a critical factor in our successful placement history, with a 93% retention rate of candidates that Potomac Recruiting places with our clients. The strength of our approach coupled with our personalized client focus led to INL choosing Potomac Recruiting to assist them to find the best candidate for this critical position.


How We Began the Search

Our first task was to learn more about the requirements of the position and better understand the culture of INL. In addition to the specific skills any successful candidate would need, we also needed to know what it is like to work there, the personality of the supervisor and subordinates for this new position, and the kinds of candidates that are successful at the company. We had discussions with INL leadership to gain the knowledge and insight into the position, about the company culture and history, and about the National and Homeland Security Division in particular. INL greatly appreciated the personalized approach that Potomac Recruiting brought to this search, and helped to ensure that our recruiting experts gained the insight needed to begin this exciting search.


Search Challenges

INL was incredibly helpful at the start of the search, providing detailed information on the position requirements and giving us much needed insight on the company culture. There was a challenge, though. The National and Homeland Security Division at INL contains three disparate service offerings: Critical Infrastructure Protection (which includes integrating nuclear and cyber security, cyber security, industrial controls, electric grid reliability, and a test range), Defense Systems (which includes armors and materials and test range), and Nuclear Nonproliferation (which includes nuclear safeguards, different radiation warning systems, and radiological search and response training). INL wanted a diverse candidate pool that presented different backgrounds and skill sets, and therefore hoped to interview a variety of leaders, each of which had a deep background in one of these three very different areas. This meant that the Potomac Recruiting team would have to understand the technology skills required for each service offering, and identify candidates with backgrounds and experiences in each area. Normally, a search would only require an understanding of one area of expertise. For the INL search, Potomac Recruiting had to create three separate pools of candidates – one pool for candidates with nuclear nonproliferation expertise, one for candidates with infrastructure and industrial controls expertise, and one for candidates with defense armament expertise. All three required leaders who had scientific backgrounds and who had run and overseen laboratories with teams of researchers and scientists.

The Potomac Recruiting team moved quickly to identify potential candidates, and immediately began reaching out to those candidates who met the necessary requirements. In our weekly calls with INL, the hiring manager, senior members of the team, and the Human Resources Director were all extraordinarily helpful in providing feedback on the candidates we had identified and begun to interview. The more information they were able to provide to us, the better we were able to determine whether a potential candidate could be a fit for INL.


The Interview Process 

Potomac Recruiting conducted multiple phone interviews of each potential candidate, and then moved to in-person interviews, which lasted anywhere from one to three hours. After that stage, we implemented a situational and behavioral based interview process that had been developed exclusively for Potomac Recruiting. In a conversational setting, we asked questions meant to determine how a candidate had handled past situations, and how they reached a successful resolution. This process also enables us to learn about the candidate’s behavior in the work place, in order to determine if it is a good fit for INL’s workplace culture. 5 candidates made it through our rigorous interview process and were presented to INL for their review and subsequent interview process.


How Potomac Recruiting Succeeded

By providing INL with a diverse candidate slate – which encompassed candidates with backgrounds across the INL National and Homeland Security service offerings as well as diversity candidates – Potomac Recruiting afforded our client with the opportunity to interview vastly different candidates, each of whom could have been a good fit for the opportunity. INL narrowed the candidate pool down to two finalists, and had senior leadership conduct second round interviews with these candidates. Potomac Recruiting worked with INL throughout this process, and began conducting in-depth 360 degree reference checks of the leading candidate. INL review this candidate’s outstanding references, and after consulting with Potomac Recruiting, determined that they would proceed to make an offer to this candidate. Potomac Recruiting was an integral part of this process and worked with INL to speak with the candidate about the terms of the offer. It was an exciting search, which culminated in the right candidate coming on board to work for INL!


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About Us

Potomac Recruiting consultants are specialists in talent. Our experienced consultants are passionate about finding the right people for your business—that’s the Potomac Recruiting advantage. We specialize in finding the people who will help your business exceed its goals, and our success is measurable: in today’s fast-moving world Potomac Recruiting is proud that our retention rate is 93%.  

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