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I’ve been struck over the last 18 months by how many existing and prospective clients are asking how to modernise their online assessments.  I’m often asked, “How do we go about ensuring that our early career assessment process maximises engagement with an ever-increasing technologically savvy audience?”  This is no surprise, many stats support the notion that today’s early careers and grad candidates are looking for fresh ways to engage with organisations in a way that they find technically appealing.

The scale of the challenge is clear:

  • this year the billionth tablet user went online
  • mobile job applications have increased in nearly every territory in 2015
  • nearly a third of job seekers in the UK expect to be able to apply from their device

This is not exactly a new trend and continues a pattern which has emerged over the last few years.

Whilst many organisations have provided online applications and assessments for a number of years, the question should be asked as to how many are really maximising engagement with their applicants?  It takes skill to make sure the small successful cohort remains energised throughout the multi-stage assessment whilst ensuring the rejected majority leave the process with a positive experience, tangible feedback and, dare I say it, hope?

In a crowded early-career space you really do live or die by your commitment to attracting candidates and maintaining interest.  This starts early (increasingly so with school programmes etc.) and should, one can argue, continue until retirement and beyond.  So it often leaves me dumbfounded when I see clunky, out-of-date, unnecessary or non-compatible assessments as part of the online assessments process.  Sure, they are online but so are hundreds of billions of websites – it does not mean they are good, user-friendly or critically going to maximise the candidates’ chance of performing well.

Those responsible for putting together the assessment process hold the organisation’s brand reputation in their fingertips.  Yes, it’s time to accept that your brand reputation will be tarnished if you treat your candidates poorly.  Just look at Wikigrads or Glassdoor if you do not believe me.  However, this is exactly what is happening.  One of our new clients (a telecoms business) engaged with us after they found 28% of unsuccessful applicants were cancelling their contracts within a month of being rejected for roles.  The result – hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue.

The modern applicant (think of a Millennial, although I dislike this broad-brush term) wants a joined up process where they can start and stop the application when they like, wherever they like.  Does your process allow this?  Do applicants need to stop half-way through the process to find a compatible device to complete an assessment (most assessments are at best ’problematic’ with Apple mobile devices).  This may seem trivial but instantly up to a third of candidates are receiving sub-optimal treatment and may become frustrated and disengaged.

Candidate feedback can really make the difference to how both successful and unsuccessful candidates evaluate how they feel that have been treated by your application process.  All too often I hear “we tell them the score they got if they ask but not much else”.  Really?  Wow, what a missed opportunity to sell your business in a favourable light, retain candidate interest for next time and keep a loyal customer happy.  Organisations really should be embracing feedback,  and making it available almost immediately.  For the successful candidates, they can see the value placed on the process, where they did well and perhaps some areas the organisation will support them on moving forward.  Great.  For those less fortunate in the process, they get feedback on what to do differently next time, potential reasons for a misaligned profile to the programme applied for and tips for getting ahead elsewhere.  Great.

My advice to clients is simple.  Look for a solution that is easy-to-access, robust, simple, and fit-for-purpose.  One that offers easy-to-access and understandable feedback.  These are the things that matter in engagement with early-career applicants the most.  There are plenty of online solutions available that do this really well.  Others are a little akin to the emperor’s new clothes – promise much but have little substance.


Join us at our Graduate Recruitment and Development Forum 2016 to hear more from Alistair in his presentation on engaging with the new tech-savvy generation.




Alastair is business development manager at Saville Consulting, he manages a number of the business’ key accounts, including Thales, Prudential, Fujitsu, National Air Traffic Services, Capita and easyJet.

As a business psychologist, Alastair uses his consultative approach with clients and prospects to promote best practice in organisational selection and assessment. Alastair is passionate about empowering clients, building bespoke solutions to exceed client needs. Recent projects include aligning the Saville Consulting suite of assessment tools to organisational competency models, developing and implementing assessment centre materials for graduate selection programmes and embedding a variety of tools within a major corporation to facilitate selection at all levels of recruitment, from apprentices to board level. The nature of Alastair’s role requires that he is adept in the full range of the Saville Consulting portfolio of services, particularly psychometric assessments (for screening, selecting and developing talent), tailored training courses and psychometric consultancy services.

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