How BDO virtualised student assessment

Feb 8, 2021 | Selection & assessment

David Barnes, Senior Resourcing Manager at BDO explains their journey to transform the student assessment experience.

Our core purpose at BDO is ‘Helping you Succeed’. Tomorrow’s world of work is ever-changing, as an organisation we need our talent to adapt and evolve at an unprecedented rate to deliver for our clients.

To support this purpose, over the past year we have been on a journey to transform the early careers assessment experience.


Supporting the purpose

Our assessment process was initially implemented four years ago. To ensure we are able to recruit the right talent for our business and keep up with market expectations we looked for continual improvements.

Our biggest focus was on how recruitment technology could better support our process both in terms of driving further efficiencies and providing benefits for both our candidates and the firm.

We wanted to create a process that was genuinely different and stood out not only in our sector but across the future talent industry. For this reason, we chose to use Amberjack’s award winning and innovative technology to create a fully virtual student assessment process, which was representative of our business, without compromising on quality or experience.

Clear objectives were set from the start of the process to ensure we could measure our success and the impact of the new solution. These included:

  • Remove resource drain
  • Reduce time to hire
  • Improve effectiveness
  • Improve candidate experience


Innovative new solution

After a short application form, candidates progress onto a combined online, blended assessment and video interview. It allows us to identify future potential by measuring the four most important indicators which are critical for our business: Grit, Digital Intelligence, Applied Intellect and Creative Force.

Designed in partnership with diversity and neurodiversity specialists, the assessment offers multiformat deployment and responses are time recorded rather than time limited.

The test is comprised of a short introduction video, mix of applied intellect and behavioural questions, self-reflection video, closing video and an automated candidate feedback report. It delivers a highly interactive experience that is face valid and realistic of their future work environment.

The next stage of the process is the Virtual Assessment Centre. We have transformed our traditional, paper-based assessment centre into an engaging virtual experience.

The system is simple and intuitive to use and does not require any prior training for candidates. It’s automated scheduling and scoring functionality has meant our transition from face to face to virtual AC’s not only improved the candidate experience but saved hours of planning and resource time.

The new three-stage process takes less than a day to complete.


Achievements and effectiveness

With the use of innovative and intelligent automation our new solution has delivered impressive results against our initial objectives to ensure the project had the impact we required:

  • Reduce resource drain
    The process and technology provided improvements whilst requiring two to three less headcount than the previous year.
  • Reduce time to hire
    We have reduced stages in the hiring process from seven to three and reduced hire to time from circa four months to one month.
  • Improve effectiveness
    There has been a 241% YOY increase in offers, which has led to 72% of roles being filled by Christmas. This is an increase of 45% from 2019. In addition, our pass rates have increased by 15% and due to overall candidate quality, we’ve reduced the number of assessment centres by 10%.

Whilst the overall number of assessment centres reduced, the amount we were able to hold prior to January rose by 315%. This was critical to ensure we were securing the best talent for our business early in the season.

  • Improve candidate experience
    The average time for candidates to complete the assessment process was reduced from 2.5 hours to 45 minutes. The average wait time between submitting an application, to attending an assessment centre for the candidate was reduced by 75% compared to last season. This was achieved through pipeline efficiency, which allowed us to fill assessment centre slots earlier.

Technology and intelligent automation have played a vital role in the solution we have delivered and allowed us to transform our process both internally and for our candidates. We have been delighted with the results and the impact it has had both on our candidates and within the business. We will continue to review and evolve our process moving forward but feel we have created great foundations for ongoing future success.

The fact that all these improvements came in conjunction with the pandemic and an HR systems implementation, is a testament to the importance of automation and the hard work and dedication of both Amberjack and the BDO Early in Career Resourcing team.

BDO and Amberjack shared their experiences at our recent ISE Apprenticeship Conference. Get involved with our 2021 events.

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