The most creative job interview ever

AIM

One of our clients, a new player in the financial services market, came to us with what they were calling a “game changing career opportunity”. They’d created a new executive level role – so new it didn’t yet have an official job title. The new executive would be working with customers and retail partners to uncover innovative products and services to help make money friendly again. They were looking for support in defining what sort of person would fit the bill, and then going to market in what is still a challenging time for banking to find the ideal person. 

APPROACH

We understood that the right person, while needing great retail experience, probably wouldn’t come from the banking sector. Traditional channels for executive level roles in this industry just wouldn’t work.

We’d need a smart, disruptive but positive intervention to showcase this opportunity, enticing the right candidates to come forward. We came up with the concept of “The most creative job interview ever” – an immersive assessment experience played out on a small scale, but with the potential to go viral. Staged as a PR activity, the unbranded event would only be open to journalists initially. After participating, they’d take their experience to the media via tweets, blogs, websites and other viral channels (YouTube, Vine etc).

The experience would be specifically designed to catch the eyes of those people with the right mix of motivations, strengths and personality traits to do well in the role, generating a pipeline of the right sort of people, all intrigued to learn more and be considered to the role.

The “pop-up” event would invite participants to step into a world where anything is possible. They’ll move through a series of enticing rooms, each challenging them with a task or activity that replicates aspects of the role in a playful way. One room, for example, will require them to give a football team a half-time pep talk, testing their ability to provide inspirational leadership. Another will test their skills of improvisation by asking them to write the lyrics to a song about to be recorded by a piano-playing lounge singer.

Their creativity and fluency in quickly generating lots of fresh ideas will be assessed when, upon entering a new smoke-filled room, they are met by an actor telling them they “have just three minutes to suggest as many possible places they could be right now.”

The final room will be a debriefing session with one of our assessment experts who will have been discreetly observing them throughout their journey. Participants will have a chance to reflect on their performance and we’ll give them some high-level feedback on how they got on. We’ll present them with a certificate to say they’ve completed the experience. On the certificate will be a link to a (still) unbranded website which contains a job description and contact details. The recorded song they helped to write will be emailed to them the next day as a shareable reminder of the event.

IMPACT

The idea received a unanimous thumbs up from journalists and candidates alike. Although they found it challenging, all candidates said the experience had made them even more enthusiastic about the role and the brand.

The total cost of the campaign was £40,000. For this we achieved very high-profile media coverage, including in The Evening Standard, City A.M., Campaign, Marketing Magazine and Brand Republic. These titles had a combined estimated circulation of 30,000,000. The campaign had a much greater reach and brand impact than if we had taken a more traditional approach of advertising in specialist publications.

204 people applied and 10 outstanding candidates were chosen for the ‘interview’. Most importantly, Virgin Money recruited a true innovator: Dhiraj Mukherjee. Dhiraj was the creator of music app Shazam and a candidate who would not have considered joining this business had they not taken such a creative approach.

Other applications

Immersive assessment experiences provide a whole new way of engaging (and assessing) talent. We believe they have a great application on campus and with the Early Talent market. Their link to gaming, their playfulness and the opportunity they provide for participants to learn something valuable about potential employers and about themselves fit really well with this group.