The Student Employer
Hannah Crawley, occupational psychologist at Nationwide, explains the company's new selection process: "Our Emerging Talent programmes have traditionally focused on recruiting candidates with core competencies such as teamwork, agility and problem solving. Degree-wise, we looked at candidates who had a 2.1 or above as an entry criteria. Our aim has always been to identify positive, productive candidates who fit our values and have strengths that will support our strategic direction. This year, we set ourselves the challenge of taking a fresh approach to the way we identify and assess prospective talent."
Our Emerging Talent programmes have traditionally focused on recruiting candidates with core competencies such as teamwork, agility and problem solving. Degree-wise, we looked at candidates who had a 2.1 or above as an entry criteria. Our aim has always been to identify positive, productive candidates who fit our values and have strengths that will support our strategic direction.
This year, we set ourselves the challenge of taking a fresh approach to the way we identify and assess prospective talent. We wanted an assessment experience that was different and engaging, but we weren’t prepared to compromise on the quality or robustness of our hiring methods. We also wanted to stand out when it comes to candidate engagement.
To achieve our goals, we partnered with assessment company cut-e, to re-design our screening process and the content and delivery of our assessment centres. We removed the degree classification and UCAS points entry requirement and replaced it with assessments of each candidate’s personality, values, verbal reasoning and problem-solving abilities. We wanted to take a broader view that was focused on their capabilities and potential, not past achievement.
As cut-e’s assessments are shorter than the tests we had used previously, we could get much more from the application process, without increasing the test-taking time for each candidate. This is important for the candidate experience, especially for candidates who are undertaking multiple applications. Within 48 hours, all successful and unsuccessful candidates received a detailed feedback report, explaining how they’d done, where their likely strengths and development areas were, as well as insights to support their career choices. We’ve had some great feedback on this from candidates. Importantly, the assessments gave us a valuable understanding of each candidate’s aspirations, drive, emotional intelligence and intellectual capacity.
Together with cut-e (now Aon), we also redesigned our assessment centre to incorporate a new suite of exercises including an ‘escape room’, a briefing exercise and a strengths-based interview. In the escape room, candidates were given 25 minutes to solve logical challenges and puzzles to unlock a series of boxes. The last one reveals a key that will help them ‘escape’ from the room.
We moved our whole assessment centre onto a digital platform, which meant that assessors and candidates worked from tablets or laptops on the day. Scores and feedback from assessors were automatically compiled into bespoke feedback reports for candidates. The information was easily shared with our development team, who used it when successful candidates joined.
A big success for us has been the positive feedback from hiring managers and candidates from this process. Harry Dhillon, a successful inductee, told us: “I’m used to competency-based interviews, so this assessment centre was a refreshing change. I enjoyed the escape room challenge and the digital aspect of the tasks. It was the best assessment centre I’ve attended. The process allowed me to showcase my skills and it was a truly rewarding experience.”
The assessments we’ve used have screened candidates so effectively during the application stage that we’ve been able to remove other internal (and time consuming) processes and measurements before the candidates are invited to an assessment centre. The greatest benefit of redesigning our assessment process is that we’ve been able to recruit a stronger talent pipeline. The ‘success rate’ at our assessment centres has doubled and we’re confident that we’ve hired great people. On top of this, we’ve improved the candidate experience and positioned Nationwide as a modern, forward-thinking organisation.
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