What does 'innovation' look like in recruitment today?

If you work for the online shoe retailer Zappos, 'innovation' takes the form of comprehensive restructuring: the organisation has eliminated job titles across its 1,500 employees, creating instead a 'self-governing' system, with no managers. The company's focus is to 'distribute power more evenly', and focus on 'the human element'.[1] Not content with this, they recently announced that jobs would no longer be posted on careers sites or LinkedIn. Instead, potential Zappos employees will have to join a bespoke social network, called Zappos Insiders, where they will network with current employees and publically demonstrate their passion for the company.[2] The reaction to this news has not been favourable: commentators have described the scheme as 'a clown show' and 'a pandora's box of potential litigation'.[3]

At TMP, we're relieved to say, innovation doesn't involve eliminating job postings; instead, like its basic definition 'make changes in something established' it means continually bettering the recruiting experience in a variety of ways, from streamlining the process to introducing new methods. Recently, we've been refining Situational Judgment Tests by exploring their hitherto underutilised potential to extend, promote and define an organisation's employer brand.

Drawing on research by the University of Giessen (the oldest university in Germany), which demonstrates that an SJT can be designed to measure specific behavioural constructs, such as personal initiative,[4] and the conclusions of the Belgian Ministry of Defence that real world previews yield better results,[5]TMP worked with Virgin Money to launch a unique recruitment campaign: 'The World's Most Creative Job Interview'. Virgin was looking for a Senior Creative Executive, a role which required a special individual, able to devise creative solutions in innovative ways. The successful candidate would lead the development and launch of a new type of banking proposition, with a particular focus on creating unique experiences for their customers. Virgin Money wanted to adopt a different approach in its search to find the right person for this role, and worked with TMP to create a Situational Judgment Test designed to test applicants' ability to be inventive, entrepreneurial, and inspiring.

The SJT took the form of an immersive theatre experience, designed to attract the most creative and open-minded audience. A group of actors accompanied the candidate on a role-playing journey through a series of different rooms. Each room presented them with a different scenario, in which they became the central character. Every scenario was designed to bring out qualities expected from the ideal candidate, and applicants were expected to improvise their way through from beginning to end.

Some of these tasks were daunting; for example, as applicants moved from one darkened room to another, they were confronted by a downcast football team sulking in a changing room at half time, and told that they had three minutes to give them a pep talk. Virgin required an individual who is not just a manager, but a leader who galvanises and demonstrates infectious passion; this exercise was the perfect way to assess whether a candidate communicated with confidence, if they personally connected with the team, and if they highlighted the group objectives and focused on the end goal.

As well as offering an improved candidate experience, and an engaging and realistic preview into the role, SJTs can be used as a way to convey your brand and culture in an innovative way. In this fast-moving employment landscape, other organisations would do well to reflect on what their SJTs are saying about them; more and more employers are realising that a brand-conscious, rigorous assessment process can make the difference between offering a job to the right candidate, or the almost-right candidate.

When it comes to recruitment, 'innovation' can take many forms, from an internal shift away from job postings, to radically reconfiguring the assessment process. With advances in technology constantly driving innovation, perhaps the question is not 'what does innovation look like in recruitment today?', but what will it look like tomorrow?






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