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Redesigning Recruitment: GSK's journey to a new model for global early talent acquisition

Joe Voelcker, Global Head of Early Talent Acquisition & UK Recruitment Head, GSK

Against the backdrop of a global talent shortage and intense competition for graduates and interns, it was important for us to be able to showcase what makes GSK different and to give candidates a glimpse of what working life would be like if they were to join our global team.

Our aim was to create a unique, immersive experience for candidates, providing insight into our company culture by using genuine, personal stories and real-world scenarios. The new process set out to educate candidates about our business and to help us identify individuals who would be motivated by the role and by the environment they’d be working in.

Creating a great candidate experience

Prior to our new model we used off-the-shelf tests that included individual numerical, logical, verbal, and values tests. The process was slow and resource intensive. The tests took a significant amount of time to complete and candidates didn’t fully understand the business of GSK. Improving the efficiency of this process and reducing the workload of those involved in assessments were key objectives.

It was also important for us to ensure we communicated our core values at every stage of the recruitment process. The values sit at the heart of our business and shape our company culture, so it was important to have an assessment process that would bring these to life in a way that resonated with candidates.

Working with Cappfinity, we were able to establish the strengths that are fundamental to success in our business and develop an assessment approach to help identify those who not only have the capabilities to be successful, but also exhibit these essential strengths.

Global rollout

In 2017 we introduced the World of GSK – an integrated online assessment that provides candidates with insight into working for GSK using real-life scenarios. Both candidate feedback and the results achieved were overwhelmingly positive, encouraging us to redesign our complete candidate journey.

Building on the work we had already done, we worked with Cappfinity to develop job simulations and change the way we undertook assessment centres and provided feedback to candidates. In 2018, we began the global rollout of our new end-to-end process:

• The World of GSK – a 60-90-minute online assessment of participants’ alignment to GSK values and expectations, embedded within real-world video-based scenarios

• GSK Life – a 30-minute immersive job simulation with video capture, which continues the narrative from World of GSK by focusing only on the storyline for the relevant career path of the candidate

• Assessment centre – a half-day toolkit approach assessment centre with exercises aligned to the previous narrative including a strengths-based interview, group exercises and short micro exercises, each assessing one GSK value or expectation

• Candidate feedback – candidate development reports are produced for all candidates at every stage. After the World of GSK, reports are provided sharing information on the candidates’ top strengths and tips for future development. Guidance is also provided following the GSK Life stage and finally one-to-one feedback is provided post assessment centre.

Results driven

Following a three-year journey, we now have a consistent, global graduate selection process that is efficient and effective in helping us find high-calibre candidates. The automated scoring process ensures we have total confidence that the candidates who progress have already demonstrated a strong level of fit for the organisation and we’ve been able to significantly reduce the time to hire and workload on our assessors as a result.

Our new solution unlocks behavioural insight enabling us to make informed, evidence-based decisions about a candidate’s fit, potential and capability, and bias-free algorithmic assessments ensure our new process is fair and balanced, levelling the playing field for all candidates.

Since September 2018, more than 16,000 candidates across 27 countries have experienced our new solution:

• World of GSK – 16,392 total completions

• GSK Life – 5,772 total completions

• Assessment Centre – 612 total attended

Just over 3600 candidates who have completed the new assessment process completed the feedback survey, and the result has been overwhelmingly positive:

Graduate and MBA Candidates

• 90% believed the World of GSK gave an insight into the GSK culture

• 86% learnt more about their chosen programme by completing GSK Life

• 85% agreed the assessment centre helped inform their decision to join GSK

• 83% of candidates enjoyed completing World of GSK and 83% enjoyed completing the assessment centre

As with any global change, the benefits will take time to be fully realised but we are delighted with initial results and we have gained valuable knowledge and have learned a huge amount about managing a global rollout.

Whilst not every candidate will be successful, the value the individual gains from the process and the insight they get into our values and culture means that we are not only improving our talent acquisition, but they go away with a positive experience and understanding of GSK and the work we do.

Making informed, data-led recruitment decisions is a strategic priority for our business and we are proud that we’ve been able to achieve this whilst also creating a brand-enhancing candidate experience and helping to build a pipeline of talent to drive the future success of GSK.

"Following a three-year journey, we now have a consistent, global graduate selection process that is efficient and effective in helping us find high-calibre candidates."

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