“It eliminated bias, and we saw huge improvement straight away. Candidates were now being assessed purely on their skills. “Fiona Baker, Recruitment Manager at iSelect
iSelect is an Australian insurance comparison site, with a vision to make Australians’ lives easier by saving them time, effort, and money.
More than 190 + trained consultants support millions of inquiries each year from Australians seeking products and plans from almost every type of insurance including health and general insurance as well as utilities including electricity providers, internet and mobile phone plans.
Improving the quality of candidates
As Recruitment Manager, Fiona Baker was tasked with ensuring an improved attrition rate among sales roles at iSelect.
“Once candidates reached the 6-9 month mark, our retention was really good,” notes Baker. “However, in the first 3-6 months, we would lose a worryingly high number of individuals which was at a great financial cost to the business.”
While multiple factors affect attrition, Baker sought to improve the recruitment process for this business unit. The aim was to reduce this cost by improving the quality of candidates being hired. Ensuring they had the resilience, aptitude, and determination to succeed, she knew, would help ensure they saw through the toughest first months in the role.
Traditional recruitment took too long
The existing recruitment process was a three-stage assessment of candidates: a phone interview, followed by attendance at a group assessment center, and a final competency-based interview with a Sales Manager.
This process, Baker comments, “was long and labor-intensive.”
iSelect’s recruitment team focussed on attitude and aptitude, rather than technical skills, to find the right fit for sales roles. By simply reviewing résumés, Baker says, “it was difficult to assess if the candidates had the soft skills we were looking for.”
That meant that the recruitment team was initially phone screening almost every candidate, despite the high volume of applications they would receive.
Shortlisted candidates would then be invited to an assessment center. However, often up to 50% of candidates wouldn’t show up. And though the recruitment team had vetted candidates, the final interview process varied depending on the business unit, and hiring managers were often not convinced that applicants were suitable.
Any proposed change to the process needed to support the recruitment team with the high volume of applications and validate the applicants’ soft skills. Baker says, “We also knew that if we could come up with a solution that our hiring managers felt confident in, it would help us to guide them into making the right hiring decisions.”
After looking at traditional psychometric test providers and other solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, Baker and her team decided to use Vervoe. The team at iSelect appreciated how quickly Vervoe was to implement and to roll out within their organization.
“We felt Vervoe ticked a lot of our boxes and was able to solve a lot of our problems,” says Baker. “The platform saved us time in assessing candidates; it eliminated bias by focussing on assessing candidates purely on the competencies we were looking for, and it had enough rigor to give our sales managers the confidence that candidates had the skills required.”
While the recruitment team was excited at the prospect of a new tool, there were concerns about how it should be used. Vervoe is most effective when used at the start of the hiring process, with all applicants invited to a skills assessment.
“We wondered if we were asking too much of our candidates too early on in the process,” comments Baker. “But we also recognized that some of the key skills we were hiring for were determination and resilience. If applicants gave up on our application process so early on, then maybe that was also a reflection of a lack of those core skills we were looking for.”
To support the broader adoption of the skills assessment software, the iSelect team involved sales managers early in the process, so they could help design the assessment that would be used.
“We knew that the key to a successful rollout of the platform to the rest of the hiring managers/leadership group was to engage the senior leaders and get their buy-in,” says Baker. “We took them through the platform and explained the benefits it could add to the process, and we asked them for their thoughts and feedback.”
“It was important that they felt they were involved in making Vervoe a success as much as the recruitment team was.”
The recruitment and sales management team designed their assessment based on the five essential skills they look for in candidates. With support from the sales leaders, questions were designed so that the hiring managers felt candidates were assessed accurately on those key strengths. This was critical to building confidence in using the assessment tool.
Baker also notes that the candidate experience the team could create using Vervoe was critical. “We love the fact that we can upload videos and images that portray our culture at iSelect,” she says. “The assessment is straightforward and can be done in the comfort of candidates’ own home, at a time convenient for them. We know how competitive it is to attract the best people, and with Vervoe, it feels like a two-way street. We can assess the applicants, and they can assess us all in one platform, all at the same time. It feels like a win-win.”
Despite early consultation, Baker notes that some sales leaders were still interviewing candidates based on CV’s, and assessing candidates on different things often with their own biases built into the interview process.
To overcome this, the team redesigned the final stage of the recruitment process. We removed the one-on-one interview and ran the assessment center based on the same core skills we were assessing candidates on in Vervoe,” explains Baker.
“Our sales leaders and recruitment team assessed individuals together with clear scoring guidelines and without reviewing the individuals’ resume before they met them. [This ensured] there were no preconceived ideas about the candidate and what they had done before.”
“It eliminated bias, and we saw huge improvement straight away. Candidates were now being assessed purely on their skills. We now only look at their CV after the hiring decision has been made, which is a huge step forward for us.”
The iSelect team is now seeing the benefits of using Vervoe in their recruitment process. Time to hire has been one advantage, as the team no longer has scheduling issues to organize phone interviews with candidates.
Another advantage is a “big difference in the candidates arriving at our assessment centers,” comments Baker. “These individuals learned a lot about the role and culture at iSelect while completing the assessment, so they were informed and well-prepared.”
“We saw great examples of commitment and resilience, candidates put in the effort to complete the assessment, and that was then reflected in the numbers of individuals showing up for the assessment center.”
Using Vervoe, iSelect have reported:
- A 50% reduction in time-to-hire
- Increased attendance at assessment centers, from 50% to 75-100%
Baker also notes, “we stopped reviewing resumes which saved us a huge amount of time!”
For recruiting teams seeking similar solutions, Baker offers the following advice: “Clearly identify the problem you are trying to solve so you can be sure what solution will suit you best. Always have the candidate experience in mind; it’s as much about them choosing us as us choosing them”.