As the workplace environment evolves and society moves to more flexible, decentralised ways of working, brands are increasingly seeking to tease out skills from potential employees that cannot be expressed on an old school CV.

Businesses are also waking up to the fact that a diverse workforce creates the best products and services, a reason why focus is increasingly being put on making recruitment more democratic in order to attract people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

Companies like Unilever and Goldman Sachs are tapping into the power of AI to match graduates to roles within their businesses. Applicants are asked to film their answers to questions that pop up on their computer screen. The videos are then scanned by algorithms, which analyse the words used, how confidently the sentiment is expressed and how concisely the argument is presented.

Unilever also uses tech to match applicants to the right job. So, rather than applying for a particular role, graduates are matched by the AI system to the best role for them.

Meanwhile, First Direct has taken the experience offline by hosting speed dating ‘cocktails and careers’ evenings at a bar in Leeds (where its head office is based) to help the recruitment team discover more about candidates’ personalities.

Over a welcome cocktail the First Direct team explain more about the company and the various roles on offer, before embarking on a speed dating session, which gives candidates the chance to chat to the managers. Afterwards the team invites the potential recruits to get involved in a cocktail making demonstration. It’s a strategy that has seen First Direct make several hires.

It’s important to mix things up and challenge yourself to be better. It’s only by doing this, that businesses can attract the best talent.

Graham Bednash, Google

For its graduate recruitment, O2 has also moved away from traditional assessment days to focus on testing problem solving and creative thinking via ‘escape room’ type activities.

The brand is also working with graduate recruitment app Debut to offer a mobile-first approach that allows candidates to apply through their smartphone. O2 claims that not using CVs during the selection process helps to remove red tape and give candidates the best opportunity to demonstrate their “enthusiasm and passion”.

READ MORE: Marketing’s looming crisis – Why the industry must work harder to attract the next generation

Next-generation thinking

Part of encouraging workplace diversity is broadening the socio-economic diversity of the young people entering the business. This is the philosophy at BT, which since 2014 has been running the Work Ready programme, aimed at helping 16- to 24-year-olds who are no longer in education, employment or being trained for work get into the workplace.

To date, 3,500 young people have taken part in the scheme, which is designed to give them the confidence, curiosity and technical skills needed for the jobs of the future.

The programme consists of a three-week work placement combining skills development, employability training and hands-on work experience. Young people are given help tidying up their CVs, advice on interview techniques and developing their presentation skills, as well as spending time with BT employees during the intensive work experience.

BT Work Ready
Some 3,500 young people have taken part in BT’s Work Ready programme since 2014.

At the end of the three weeks the young people go through a series of mock interviews and assessments to test what they have learnt.

Graduates of the Work Ready programme have joined all elements of the BT business, including marketing. Amy Caton, BT’s Work Ready programme lead, explains that curiosity and problem solving skills would be a good match for a move into the marketing team.

“Showing curiosity, the ability to problem solve and a desire to succeed are certainly a start. Increasingly the profession is becoming a mix of the numerical and the literal, so a solid understanding of both are certainly helpful,” she explains.

“Much of what we try to teach in the programme is about learning those transferable skills, which give people the foundation to try their hand at whatever matches their passions. A one-size-fits-all approach to recruitment does not allow for diversity, so it’s up to brands to continue to think about the way they recruit talent.”

Branding the experience

Ensuring that every touchpoint of the recruitment process reflects the brand DNA has been a real area of focus for Virgin Media. This is important as every year more than 120,000 people apply for a job at the company, when it typically only needs to hire for 3,500-4,000 roles.

“We’re in the rejection business to a large degree and so it’s very important to me that the candidate experience is a positive one, because many of those potential candidates are going to be disappointed, but they are our customers…