A few friendly sparks will fly when you present a live case study with one of your biggest clients. And that’s exactly what happened to Testgrid at the annual Australian Talent Conference (ATC2017) in June.
The stars of the event were Nina Pollard, Head of Talent Acquisition at NAB, and Gerard Ward, Managing Director at Testgrid. The topic: a highly innovative and successful pilot project to redesign NAB’s volume recruitment processes by implementing ‘top of funnel’ automated screening of candidates – utilising cognitive and personality assessments, along with the latest in video interviewing technology.
They also discussed one of most critical operational changes: the implementation of ‘blind recruitment’ methodologies to ensure improved workforce diversity and reduction of recruiter bias – a massive paradigm shift for many ‘old school’ recruiters!
Interviewed by Kelly O’Shaughnessy of NAB, what followed was a lively and engaging discussion with some critical learnings and practical take-outs for all high volume recruiters – along with a few hearty laughs.
Key Challenges – “We need better people and we need them faster.”
Nina Pollard started out by outlining the challenges that NAB faced from traditional volume hiring processes. The recruitment at NAB process was unsophisticated, time consuming, and labour intensive. She summarised it as: “Bulk, compile, send.” CVs would come in; they’d be compiled and sent on to the hiring manager. Candidate retainment was low and turnover of entry-level positions was high – well over industry norms. Quality of new hires was hit and miss affair.
Testgrid worked in collaboration with NAB to overcome the time-consuming challenges posed by an out-dated, manual and transactional approach to filling entry-level vacancies. The primary aim of the new recruitment process was to improve timeframes and quality of new hires into customer-facing positions.
The Solution – Courage, advocacy, engagement.
Following the initial consulting period, Testgrid recommended a redesigned process that included upfront screening using cognitive and personality assessments, and cutting-edge video interviewing.
The new recruitment process was now fully automated at the top of the funnel:
- Candidates would apply online through NAB eRecruitment System;
- They took a Cognitive Assessment to ascertain mental abilities;
- Followed by a Values Questionnaire to ascertain cultural fit.
- If candidates met certain criteria they’d move through to a video interview.
It was only after a video interview that a NAB recruiter would get involved in the process. “One of the things we were trying to design was to not have any CV screening in the process at all, and that’s quite radical.” Nina explained. “Particularly for a bank to say ‘We’re going to hire people and we’re never going to see their CV’. Essentially we realised that there wasn’t a whole lot a CV was going to tell us about how capable they would be to do that job.”
NAB wanted smart people who were going to service the needs of their customers, people who had the right values alignment. Video interviews were used to assess communication skills, integrity, and resilience because these would be the key things that would help them be successful in their new roles.
Nina continued, “This was the challenge we put to Testgrid: we wanted to eliminate recruiter bias. We wanted a process where we can rely on people’s natural abilities and hire the best talent we can find without looking at the CV.”
After the video interview stage, the candidates moved on to the NAB Engagement Centre. “This flipped the more traditional Assessment Centre methodology on its head: as a candidate we know we want you, but do you want us? We’re going to show you what the job is like – warts and all – and then you can assess: is this the job for me?”
In the past, NAB had issues with new hires leaving within the first six months. One reason for this was that the job wasn’t what candidates expected.
“Customer-facing contact centre roles are tough. The new process gives candidates the option to ‘opt out’ before training. Expectations are clearer from the beginning and there is a greater transparency in terms of what the candidate can expect from the day-to-day experience of the role.”
Nina then outlined the three main things that made the pilot program successful:
- Courage from the business to try our process as a concept and also to gain their financial backing.
- Advocacy: HR colleagues to become advocates for a new way of hiring people.
- Engagement: Testing & Assessment team to be fully engaged in the new approach because they are going to be executing the process on a day-to-day basis
Nina added, “This was a unique process because we were saying to the hiring manager and team leader, ‘No longer are you going to hire your people. No more interviews. No more face-to-face. You can’t meet them. The TA team are going to hire your people for you… That took a lot to get this over the line!”
Results and What’s Next…
Gerard Ward went on to outline the verified ROI of the pilot programme, “We took a conservative approach to the numbers by looking at the number of successful hires and the reduction in candidate turnover. Based on NAB’s volume of 1,300-1,400 new hires, if we can get 70 people to stay longer we’re able to save NAB $7.2M a year.”
Nina agreed that candidate quality had improved. “It’s evident in the way that new candidates present themselves to Assessment Centres. In the past, maybe 20 percent would turn up in suits, now almost 90-95 percent candidates will show up in a suit! That’s great because the managers and the GM are impressed.”
Gerard agreed. “One of the EGMs said, ‘The candidates have NAB DNA’. When I heard this, I knew that we’d done a good job!”
Nina is excited about the future of the programme. “It’s starting to grow legs. And that’s great because we’re getting advocacy within the business for this new way of hiring for entry-level talent. Other parts of the business are interested. We recently rolled it out into NAB retail roles.”
“The other benefits have come from increased productivity. The business used to spend hundreds of hours on recruitment. Face-to-face and phone interviews. Now because TA delivers great talent into the business there is a huge productivity gain so now we can let business do what they do best and let TA what they do best. Everyone benefits.”
Asked if they had one piece of parting advice for recruiters who are considering implementing a similar programme, Gerard and Nina had some practical tips.
Gerard recommends starting small, “Take one little area. Trial it out and see what sort of results you get.”
Nina’s advice was on a similar tip. “Pilot something. Have a go. Build a business case in an area that you can influence and that you have good relationships in because something like this requires credibility and trust. Build strong relationships in business with partners and colleagues. It’s easy to implement once you have those relationships in place.”
Nina and Gerard then went on to answer some insightful questions from the audience in an extended and informative Q&A session.
This article is sponsored by Testgrid.
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