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Andrew Cunningham, Learning and Organisation Development Manager, shares how Visit Scotland has improved its Youth Employment Strategy.

As part of our Youth Employment strategy we have committed to reviewing our interview practices to maximise the effectiveness for those being interviewed under the age of 26.

Our current interviews are based around a 1-2-1 competency based interview approach that involves one representative from HR and 1 representative from the business. Questions are structured around the core competencies for the role being advertised.

Feedback we have received from those who were both successful and unsuccessful suggest that it is difficult for interviewees to answer competency questions as they have little or no work experience up to this point to draw from.

We researched the different types of interviews being used by other organisations such as Aviva Insurance, Clydesdale Bank and The Student Loan company. 

We have put together a new interview structured around an “Assessment Centre” approach.  This involves 3 core elements:

  • A group activity – where candidates are observed on their communication / engagement / motivation / attitude / managing change / managing task process

  • A speed 1-2-1 interview around knowledge of company / hobbies and interests / examples of team work / reasons for wanting the job / skills being offered. The interviews take place at the same time as the group activity so the group is constantly changing.

  • A group presentation where the interviewees present back the findings from their activity

The aim of this structure is to focus less on competencies and more on the attitude, motivation, knowledge of the organisation and team “fit”.

For employers

  • Can interview eight candidates at a time over a three hours time period so can see 16 candidates per day
  • Get better demonstration of ability, attitude and team fit rather than just a competency set

For young people

  • Interview process is much more enjoyable and relaxing
  • Feedback provided is more specific and focused on development to improve on performance
  • Less anxiety during interview as surrounded by peer group and not isolated in interview

For the Public Sector

  • Improved reputation from unsuccessful candidates who have had a good experience
  • More cost effective recruitment with better fit of interviewee to advertised role

What did you learn from the experience? 

It is important to spend at least 15 minutes of the interview setting the scene and putting the candidates at ease.

Also, ensure that there is a scoring mechanism for both the interview and the group assessment task and ensure that the two of these are combined for the overall assessment and feedback

Be strict on time limit of interview to ensure fairness and provide feedback if answers are too lengthy or too short.

Further information

For more details on the VisitScotland youth employment strategy, please contact Andrew Cunningham via email or phone 0131 472 2434.