Famous for 15 minutes

We care about technology-enhanced human systems. So we thought we would share regular thoughts and opinions about why we think they matter so much.

the RADs : Best Candidate Experience - Greater Anglia


We recruit between 200-300 people per annum. In some parts of our recruitment requirement the challenge is in processing the volume of applicants we might receive, however in all areas we needed to ensure we positioned ourselves as an employer of choice, showing the broader business behind the running of a very busy rail franchise, whilst driving efficiency in our engagement, reducing a very slow time-to-hire and ensuring that all applications were well handled – in many instances our audience were also our customers.


This ongoing enhancement programme has seen a sea change in our recruitment process. What was an email, post and spreadsheet driven system that saw people all too regularly dropping out of the recruitment process, has been replaced by a people-focused approach that is centred around delivering a great candidate experience.

Hiring managers have also been impressed with the results. It is pretty common for our resourcing team to present them with candidates for their role within a week. The migration to online assessment means that we are no longer reliant on the postal system or candidates taking time off work to attend our physical centres resulting in higher numbers of completed assessments in an even shorter time than before.

Candidates have been very positive about the speed and clarity of the process. The seamless integration between the application system [HARBOUR], the online assessment processes [Shortlister and CEB] and the on-boarding website [HARBOUR] have been particularly popular – together with the additional live chat channel of communication [Meet & Engage].  Even though in reality they are powered by a number of different platforms, from a candidate’s point of view it is just one single journey. And of course, candidates can move through the entire process using whatever device they want. Desktop, tablet or smartphone. No need for printing. No need for postage. And the need to travel to an assessment centre is now no longer seen as a barrier to applying for a role at Greater Anglia.


- Fresh careers site with simple career matcher tool.

- Video job descriptions. We created a series of short videos that can be embedded into a job posting and really bring the vacancy to life.

- Enhancing of our applicant tracking system [HARBOUR]. We partnered with 3D MarComms and their HARBOUR product to refine our processes and deliver a high-quality recruitment experience where both email and SMS messages are used to keep the candidate aware of the status of their application. It is also integrated with our online assessment platforms.
A candidate-centric approach. Alongside the technology that we are using to support our process, we are also committed to contacting everyone within ten days of their application and have also integrated both the careers site and the on-boarding portal with live chat functionality [Meet & Engage].

- Online assessments [CEB]. These replaced the old paper-based assessment process that would often add seven days to the process simply because all communication was conducted by post. We can now also tailor the online assessment tests to match the skills and demands of the role the candidate is applying for.

- Video interviewing [Shortlister]. This is now available to hiring managers who wish to have applicants complete a scripted video interview. The integration with HARBOUR ensures that the process of inviting and then pulling information back into the ATS is highly efficient too.
A new on-boarding platform [HARBOUR]. Once an offer has been accepted, the candidate is transferred into our on-boarding platform where they are able to review and accept their contract, complete essential forms online and even request their uniform. The facility also auto generates update emails to both the New Starter and Hiring Manager to keep them engaged and informed as the start date approaches as well as notifying the relevant departments to ensure that the correct uniform, payroll details, technology and systems are available to the new starter on their first day.

- A thirst for feedback. We call all candidates who have been through an interview with us to find out how they have found the experience. This then feeds into our quarterly process review meetings.


The refreshed recruitment process went live in 2016/2017 and now we are starting to see the results of our hard work. The biggest shift has been in our use of recruitment agencies - in 2015 over 60% of recruitment was done this way, in 2017 this is more like 10%. Not only has this lead to a 50% reduction in agency spend, but it means that we are now in total control of the candidate experience, knowing that we can ‘sell’ a vacancy better than an agency can.

It has been an incredibly rewarding journey building a direct recruitment process that is based on direct engagement with job seekers and offering the best possible experience. We have found that it helps the candidate form a strong affinity with our brand and values. It is helping build our reputation as a great employer. And we know it is working because in the past 12 months we have received over 27,000 more direct applications with no increase in advertising spend.

The results we are seeing include:

  • A reduction in time to hire from 20 weeks to 10 weeks
  • We have even seen a hire made within three weeks of the requisition being raised
  • A reduction in time from ‘invitation for assessment’ to ‘completed assessment’ of seven days
  • Savings on postal costs of approximately £700 per vacancy
  • A 30% increase in the number of assessments completed per role

And through the recruitment platforms:

  • An average time on careers website of 2 minutes and 35 seconds
  • An average of 3.2 pages viewed per visit
  • 12,500 completed applications
  • Over 700 completed online assessments
  • Over 150 video interviews
  • 260 new starters granted access to the on-boarding website
  • An average of 6.7 visits to the on-boarding website
  • 100% completion of all mandatory documentation
  • 0% fall out during the on-boarding process

While establishing the new recruitment process did require investment, we believe that in the last twelve months the savings achieved by reduced agency spend, postal costs, travel reimbursement for candidates and general efficiencies we have already seen a 56% return on our initial investment.

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