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Janine Milne

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Best Practice: Royal Mail delivers better recruitment


Royal Mail Group has overhauled its recruitment process in a bid to pinpoint postmen, drivers and other operational staff that better fit the organisation’s sharpened customer focus.

Each year, Royal Mail hires about 10,000 people for operational roles, whittled down from 170,000 applications and 22,000 interviews. These positions not only include front-line staff delivering mail, but also indoor sorters and data inputters in its processing and distribution centres. 
Given the deluge of applicants, it is vital the organisation can quickly assess which candidates possess the right attributes for the job.
Since 2006, the Group had used online tests as part of its application process, but when a transformation programme changed job specifications and introduced new working practices, Royal Mail needed to update its approach. It turned to talent assessment specialist Talent Q to help devise a completely new process for selecting its operational staff.
First off, the resourcing team and Talent Q identified competencies for each new job that reflected the greater emphasis on teamwork, flexibility and customer focus. They then developed a personality questionnaire, together with tests in verbal and numerical reasoning to test for those competencies.
“We also asked if they could include a ‘checking test’, as many of our operational roles require accuracy in checking postcodes and addresses, and they developed this for us,” says Dianne Crookes, Royal Mail Group’s resourcing supplier manager.
Talent Q then created interview guides for each role to ensure that all hiring managers were conducting interviews to the same professional standard. 
Now, when prospective candidates select a job from Royal Mail’s jobs page, they are first asked a few screening questions to check their suitability for the role. They then complete an online application form and begin the assessments. The whole process only takes around 30 minutes.
“The tests may be short but they’ve proved to be very reliable and robust. Our whole application process is now slicker and it provides an improved candidate experience,” says Helen Chapman, manager of frontline recruitment services at Royal Mail.
Talent Q is analysing data from 200 staff who joined at the pilot stage to check the success of the changes. Line managers are being asked to complete a survey about their joiner’s quality of work, such as punctuality and absenteeism. 
“This analysis will show how predictive the new tests are, in terms of ability in the role, and it will also help us to evaluate our return on investment,” said Crookes.