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“The more strands that you have in the net, the less likely something is to slip through”

Chris Marsh

Design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins uses sophisticated assessment methodology as part of its hiring process. “Our reputation with our clients depends on the people that we put in front of them,” says Chris Marsh, the group’s Resourcing Director. “So we have to be relentless about hiring the right people who can do a fantastic job for our clients.”

Assessment is most comprehensive at the graduate stage. Potential entrants to the graduate scheme must pass a situational judgement test (SJT) located on the group’s website before they can progress through the recruitment process. The SJT is a scenario-based test where candidates must answer questions in the context of different scenarios. Following this, the assessment consists of psychometric tests (deductive reasoning and verbal reasoning), technical tests and an assessment centre involving group exercises, presentations and interviews.

“I liken this to having a net,” notes Marsh. “The more strands that you have, the less likely something is to slip through.”

For more experienced hires, assessment takes the form of a menu of options that are available to line managers. So the assessment could include psychometric tests, technical tests and screening questions, as well as a more traditional, competency-based interview.

Atkins also trains its line managers in selection skills, giving managers the opportunity to practise interviewing each other and advising them how they can sell both the job and the company to prospective employees. This has wider benefits for the organisation beyond recruitment, Marsh explains. “It encourages them to think about how they manage their staff.”

Since assessment techniques are continually developing, Atkins watches the marketplace closely. Recently, it has explored the potential for using gaming technology and video interviewing as part of its hiring process. “We’re always trying to find out what’s at the cutting edge,” says Marsh.


Jon Mannall Head of Sales

Jon Mannall
Global Head of Sales, Solutions and Innovation, Hays Talent Solutions
Jonathan is the Global Head of Sales, Solution and Innovation for Hays Talent Solutions, having joined Hays in 2011. Previous roles held at Hays included Client Director, Service Delivery Director and Head of Sales for the UK. He is now responsible for leading the approach to engaging and securing new clients and to ensuring that the products and services offered by Hays Talent Solutions continue to meet the changing needs of our global, regional and local customers.

Prior to joining Hays, and after completing his Masters in Philosophy and Management, Jon worked in the RPO and MSP sector for 10 years with a range of Financial Services, Public Sector, IT & Telecommunications, and Insurance clients in Sales and Operations Director roles.

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