Animation helps Unlocked Graduates engage applicants

Jan 12, 2022 | Selection & assessment

As ISE Awards 2022 open for entries, Unlocked Graduates share their award winning assessment and selection process.

Unlocked Graduates were delighted to win ISE’s Best Assessment and Selection Process award last year for our new animated Situational Judgement Test (SJT).

This assessment and selection project required a huge amount of collaboration to depict the unique challenges of life as a prison officer to educate and engage potential applicants, as well as work as an effective sifting tool.

Job analysis

Working closely with Sten10 agency, a job analysis was completed with our current graduates, senior leaders and visionaries on the programme and in the prison service to ascertain the best scenarios to use.

We wanted to ensure a variety of situations were reflected, not least because there are a number of misconceptions already on what a prison officer has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

We wanted to capture the nuances of building effective relationships, whilst maintaining the all-important balance of compassion and authority, as well as dealing with high-pressured situations.


Once the scenarios had been refined, we wanted to make sure the test was as engaging as could be. Our previous conversion rate at this stage was only 40% so we wanted to increase this and get people to complete the test.

We considered film, but due to the pandemic and various restrictions, we knew it would be difficult to get into prisons and we felt this ran the risk of being a bit cliché.

We had been considering animation for some time in our marketing and this felt like the perfect opportunity to explore this further.

Working with Digifish agency, they brought our scenarios to life, whilst addressing the various challenges of animating a test that had to be fair and consistent. This involved ensuring the ‘characters’ were not gender or race identifiable, the answers were not guided by the action and any voiceover was selected carefully. 

Finally, we created clear instructions and a video from a participant to build confidence in those taking the test and to negate any possible adverse impact.


The animated SJT was a huge success in meeting our objectives. Conversion at the first stage increased from 40 to 76 percent, proving that candidates found it an engaging first part of the assessment.

It also increased the diversity of applicants in terms of degree subject background and feedback was extremely positive on how the test provided insight into the role.

One candidate commented:

“The situational judgement test gives you a really good insight the overall values that Unlocked hold. I found it helpful with what to expect at the assessment centre and it’s a great way to find out whether you think that you would be a good fit for the role!”

If you would like to see some examples, feel free to have a go at our practice scenario test.

Find out how to enter the ISE Awards 2022

Read more from ISE award winners

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