Supporting the Gearbulk International Graduate Programme

Gearbulk is an international shipping company headquartered in Bermuda with a network of global offices. Having taken a hiatus from recruiting graduates for a number of years their new UK-based Graduate Programme Manager, recently recruited, partnered with TMP to reinstate the programme in 2014.


In the first year of reintroduction, Gearbulk planned to take on just ten graduates across four countries, using local career fairs as their main attraction channel. They looked to us for support in 3 key areas:

– The design of the online assessment process, to which interested candidates at career fairs would be directed

– Provision of candidate management services, from initial application through to offer

– Design of a final round assessment centre and assessor skills training course for business assessors.


We worked with the Graduate Programme Manager to understand what some of the key challenges had been when they had previously recruited graduates and what fresh challenges they anticipated with the reintroduction of the programme in 2014. They had previously struggled to identify international candidates with the right level of spoken English, Gearbulk’s corporate language. Additionally, they’d recently introduced a new set of corporate values which they wanted reflected in how they recruited the business’s future talent.

We were keen to move Gearbulk away from their previous process which was very resource heavy in terms of manual handling. Prior campaigns had seen recruiters sifting through high volumes of CVs, a notoriously inconsistent method of selecting candidates as CVs come in all shapes and forms. The old process additionally didn’t allow for an assessment of candidates’ personal impact and fluency in English – important factors for success in the programme. To address these issues, as well as the need to understand those elements typically gleaned from a CV such as academic track record, we introduced a sifting tool relatively new to the assessment market – a Video CV.

This multi-purpose tool accommodated the following needs: 

• The ability to assess enthusiasm and passion for the shipping industry generally and Gearbulk’s  offer specifically

• Observing presentation and communication skills in “real time”

• An assessment of candidates’ proficiency in spoken English 

• To cover candidates’ academic background and highlights from within this

• Candidates’ match to the organisation’s values, through more traditional past experience type questions

• The need to accommodate candidates coming from various locations with different time zones.

We felt that this tool provided a more engaging experience for candidates, compared to a simple submission of a CV, as well as demonstrating Gearbulk’s commitment to innovation through harnessing technology. Additionally, it removed the need to assess English language skills through an off-the-shelf test at a later stage in the process releasing time and cost efficiencies for our stakeholder.

Recognising that this was a new tool and possibly candidates’ first experience of such a recruitment process, we provided comprehensive instructions ahead of this stage as well as constructive hints and tips on how to prepare your Video CV and how to best showcase abilities during the recording. For those candidates requiring special adjustments or not having the technology to complete this stage in the process, we offered the option of converting this step to a telephone interview.
Candidates’ responses were scored against structured criteria, bringing a level of consistency and objectivity to a stage that held previously inherent subjectivity.

Prior to Video CV, candidates had been asked to sit a battery of ability tests, again completed online to improve efficiency and accommodate a global applicant pool. Candidates were able to select their preferred language in which to complete the tests to allow us to gain a true insight into their verbal and numerical reasoning abilities – abilities that would be masked had they been forced to complete the tests in English. We knew we would be gaining a much more realistic view of their spoken English ability as part of the Video CV.

Top scoring candidates in each region were then invited to attend a local assessment centre. We provided advice around appropriate off-the-shelf behavioural exercises to include and mapped these to Gearbulk’s own competencies. This allowed assessing mangers to clearly see how well candidates would fit into the organisation and deliver against the criteria most important to them. We’d developed a training course for assessing managers covering best practice assessment methodology and, having taken all managers involved in making selection decisions at the assessment centres through this, helped mitigate any inconsistencies across global locations and managed the occurrence of any cultural biases.


The campaign resulted in four hires in Rio, two in Shanghai, two in the UK and in one Tampa; nine talented individuals to help Gearbulk meet its strategic goals over the coming years. We are working with Gearbulk on further enhancements to the final round assessment centre for 2015 through developing a set of bespoke designed materials that even more accurately reflect the realities of the role and life as a Gearbulk employee.