At Cielo, we have provided Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services to a global digital solution provider in some of the world’s most demanding businesses and governments. Key to our partnership is helping to plan and deliver seamless talent attraction services for their Support Centres in Budapest, and Pecs, Hungary. One of the main areas of focus is attracting level 1 agents who are able to provide day-to-day IT support to customers across the continent in one of more than 20 European languages.
From the development of employer value propositions (EVP) and employer branding materials, to managing campaigns and running assessment centres, Cielo manages the whole talent acquisition process in close partnership with the organisation.
As COVID-19 began to spread across the globe in the spring of 2020, it soon became clear that delivering the usual in-person assessment centers for the high-volume Level 1 agent roles was becoming untenable. In early March, candidates of all nationalities were beginning to feel uncomfortable coming in to be assessed in person, and recruiters and supervisors were also feeling nervous. Even before restrictions made it mandatory, a decision was made to deliver the assessment days remotely.
The original sessions involved groups of candidates arriving at the centre for a thorough assessment. They would have an introduction to the business and the scope of their role. This would be followed by an IT test, a role-playing exercise carried out in their support language, and an interview. By the end of the assessment, each candidate would be told whether or not they had been successful.
Our challenge was to swiftly transfer this real-life experience into a virtual one, without damaging the candidate experience, reducing the rigour of the assessment process, or reducing cost-effectiveness.
Digitalisation was at the heart of the solution, as we moved to a virtual assessment process. But the changes were more than just technological. Aware that more of the process would be one-to-one with a virtual solution and consequently more time consuming for assessors, we decided to change the order of the assessment, providing the IT test to the candidates in advance in a timed online format. This empowered candidates to choose the time they took the test, increasing uptake and engagement, whilst also allowing us to deselect those without the appropriate skills from the process early on. As a result, we were only spending time and resource on performing one-to-one interviews with a pre-selected group. We also collated an engaging range of materials and fact sheets to introduce the candidates to the company and their role in it.
All of this meant that the candidates now had to find a smaller window in working hours to complete their interview vs the original assessment day and could fit the other elements of the process into their own schedule – making it more likely that they would attend, and that dropout rates would fall.
It also meant that recruiters were able to concentrate their efforts on the one-to-one assessments, which were held virtually over the internet. Firstly, the role-play scenarios, which ensured the candidates, had good customer service and communications skills and strong language fluency, and secondly, the in-depth interviews, which were rigorous in ensuring candidates, understood the role and had the necessary competencies.
The results were impressive.
Attendance was far higher: 95% of those invited to virtual assessments attended, compared to 66% for real-life assessment.
The offer rate increased substantially: 50% of those assessed virtually were offered a role, compared to 37% in real life.
Turnaround time nearly halved: In the nine months before the virtual assessment was introduced, average time from application to accepted offer was 41 days. In the nine months after virtual assessments were begun, this timeframe fell to 23 days.
“Going forward, it’s apparent that this model of virtual assessment has many advantages. The added flexibility it gives to the candidate drives engagement, whilst the employer receives a greater number of high-quality candidates. A change that has been forced on employers by the COVID crisis may now become permanent, due to its cost-effectiveness and efficiency.” Kirsten Mayer, Senior Vice President - Client Services.