TMP December 2021 Data Security Update

NHS: Leadership Academy Assessment Centre Design

The NHS is an organisation with 1.3 million employees, a budget of £100 billion a year and consistently popular with graduates. So much so, they needed to find the top 100 ambitious, motivated leaders to join their Graduate Management Training Scheme from 16,500+ applications.

When the NHS realised they needed to create a new graduate assessment process to align to a new leadership model which needed to achieve challenging targets, encourage diversity and give an excellent candidates experience. They knew who to team up with; TMP, because we could deliver consistently high quality results no matter how many people applied.

The Challenge

It’s hard to think of an organisation that the UK public is so deeply, emotionally connected to. And, as the UK’s largest employer, it is consistently popular with graduates. Popularity though, brings its own challenges. Managing 16,500+ applications efficiently, and without compromising the quality of candidates is no mean feat. The new assessment process, needed to reduce the strain on the 400 assessors required for the volume of candidates while at the same time tailoring it to the new NHS Healthcare Leadership Model.

The focus was on selecting for potential and ensuring the successful applicants would be able to succeed in any of the varied placement they could be assigned to. The process needed to attract those who are brave and resilient, and energised by challenges the NHS faces. It was also important to engage candidates who possess the personal attributes necessary to provide a caring and safe environment for colleagues and patients.

Specifically, they were looking to make it easier for truly exceptional candidates to stand out. Added to this was the social mobility agenda ensuring that the organisation reflects the diverse communities it serves.

The Solution

To solve these challenges in a bespoke, evidence-focussed way, TMP worked closely with NHS stakeholders. Innovations in design and technology characterised the improved process, which offered efficiency and clarity to assessors, while providing an engaging experience to candidates. Creating a bespoke “Assessing for Potential” model, TMP reworked assessment questions to focus on identifying future propensity to perform, as well as current capability. This holistic approach to evidence-based assessment would help to remove social mobility barriers.

We provided a system which generated bespoke reports at volume and automatically evaluated candidates’ performance against criteria, whilst reducing the strain on NHS resources. This improved consistency of reporting, saved on administration, time and provided a level of personalisation which wasn’t previously possible at this scale. This approach met multiple NHS goals with one multifaceted, evidence-focussed solution that enabled them to become self-sufficient.

Innovative exercises were developed to make the assessment intuitive, accessible, inclusive and engaging experience, regardless of background and social status. The assessment centre was managed entirely through an online tool which immersed candidates in the day by asking them to manage their time, respond to communications and take actions in a way they would for real on the graduate scheme.


“Our revised selection approach has delivered some incredible results. The quality of the experience for our candidates and assessors has been very positive and this has been reflected in their enthusiastic feedback to our new approach. Candidates feel they’ve had an experience that provides a valuable insight into life on our scheme while having the opportunity to demonstrate their ability. Our assessors have loved the new approach, which has introduced more reliable technology and reduced their workload but still provided them with a powerful insight into the potential of the candidates they met.”

Rob Farace, Senior Programme Lead Resourcing of the NHS Leadership Academy

Benefits and Results

With the results all in, all 112 vacancies were successfully filled. What’s more, due to the high quality of applications received the NHS were able to fill vacancies for an additional programme without having to re-open for applications. Statistical analysis demonstrated that the right candidates were retained throughout the process: each of the assessment sift stages reliably predicted assessment centre performance.

70% of candidates rated their assessment centre experience as excellent or above average, despite a 40% pass rate. Results also showed that in the 931 face-to-face interviews, there was no disadvantage posed related to social mobility or any other ‘protected characteristic’.

90% of assessors believed the use of the assessment technology made their life easier. And over half of the candidates rated the future usefulness of reports generated by the assessors using the technology as ‘excellent’.

Related Case Studies

Virgin Money: 'The world's most creative job interview'