This leading food products group has several factories across the UK. Each plant had its own General Manager and a HR Manager, responsible for local recruitment.
The group wanted to standardise its recruitment process for all management level staff, and required the design of a bespoke assessment centre approach to replace the variety of techniques employed across the country. It was important that candidates should have a consistent experience – and be assessed consistently – wherever they applied within the group.
We worked with the company over a 12 month period. The brief consisted of several key deliverables:
- to design a fit-for-purpose assessment centre and recruitment process
- to write a comprehensive suite of bespoke behavioural and work simulation exercises
- the exercises should be appropriate for all management appointments from supervisor to General Manager
- to train HR staff and line managers to become competent observers
The initial task was to clarify the company’s competency framework and ensure it was appropriate for use in this process. Secondly, we met with key staff in all locations to understand the existing level of recruitment and assessment experience in the business.
We then ran a series of workshops with line managers in many of the depots and factories. The purpose was to introduce the project and, through a process of critical incident analysis, gather potential material for the behavioural exercises.
It was agreed that 3 “levels” of exercises would be produced to be used depending on the seniority of the appointment. The assessment centre also had to cater for all types of appointments – manufacturing, technical, sales, distribution and administration.
For face validity, the exercises created a “day in the life” of someone in an appropriate role in a related food manufacturing and sales group.
The range of tasks produced included Group Discussions, Role Plays and Presentation Exercises. It was important that there was sufficient variation of content available for all levels. This would minimise the chance of individuals who reapplied for roles in the future being given exactly the same exercises. This required considerable thought and so a modular/mix and match approach was applied to all exercise groups.
A series of draft exercises were produced for discussion among the HR Project Team. These were then developed into working versions produced for use in trial assessment centres. We led the internal assessment teams in a number of trial projects to test the materials.
Meanwhile, we also designed and ran a series of competency based interviewing, Observer and Assessor skills training workshops for internal HR staff and line managers, creating an assessor skills handbook for future reference.
The now standardised assessment centre has been adopted across the group in conjunction with psychometric exercises. Its implementation has seen a significant improvement in quality of hire, an increase in staff retention and a better candidate experience.