Retaining the Competitive
Edge at easyJet

Identifying the right candidates,
offering realistic job previews
and obtaining strong metrics
to produce a refined process

The Challenge

These components are: identifying the right candidates; optimizing the Speed of the process; offering realistic job previews; and obtaining strong metrics built into a refined process. easyJet is Britain's biggest airline and Europe's fourth biggest with over 700 routes and 9,000 employees. The airline has plans for further growth in order to establish a stronger European base. Over 7% more passengers chose to fly with easyJet in 2012, compared to 2011.

With best-in-class 'on-time performance' and strong referrals from its customers, there is a great need to recruit, retain and develop the right people.

Identifying and Engaging with the Right Candidates Early in the Process

"Our success is dependent an the people we employ and we are fortunate to have a good reputation and employer brand, as well as having great people already working with us. This means that we attract large numbers of applicants for our 'volume' roles. However, we know there are more great people that we need to reach and encourage to join us. Our challenges are four-fold:

  • To attract more high-quality applicants.
  • To create a consistent, sustainable and repeatable recruitment process.
  • To identify, engage with and recruit as early as possible those who will grow with our business.
  • To remove unsuccessful applicants promptly from the process without adversely impacting the brand."

Ruth Spalding, Resourcing Manager at easyJet

The Solution

Online Screening Ensures Only the Best Applicants Are Invited for Face-To-Face Assessment

With a high volume of applications, understandably there is variation in quality. The challenge for easyJet is to screen efficiently in order to ensure time is spent only with applicants most likely to succeed and that unsuccessful applicants have a positive experience.

With this in mind, easyJet introduced an online questionnaire in the form of a realistic job profile — for those interested in becoming cabin crew. Offering a realistic insight into the role of easyJet's cabin crew helps prospective candidates remove themselves from the process if they do not feel the role is right for them. Therefore, applications from those more suited and enthusiastic about the role are received and progressed.

As part of the first stage of the application process, all candidates are invited to complete an online verbal ability test and a specifically designed and validated Situational Judgment Questionnaire (SJQ), delivered through easyJet's ATS. At this early stage, easyJet is able to assess and remove those who are unable to meet minimum standards from the process. The company directs those more suited to the role through to CV screening.

In order to identify the most suitable candidates, the easyJet team worked with Aon (formerly cut-e) to develop a 'fit' status which combined the scores from the ability test and the SJQ. Those with a 'low fit' were not taken further and those with 'mid' or 'high fit' scores progressed to the CV screening stage, followed by an interview at an assessment center. The benefits of this approach are its consistency across all locations, the minimum input needed from the easyJet team and the sustainability of the process.

The Outcome

Highlighting Conversion Rate and Performance Improvement

In 2013, the cut-e (now Aon) conference highlighted the growth in the use of HR analytics and metrics across organizations and this is reflected at easyJet. Ms Spalding, who presented during the conference, explains:

"A key objective for us is to improve the quality and 'fit' of candidates who join us at assessment centers. Bringing only the best people to these events means that we improve our Speed of hire as well as cost, spending valuable assessment center time and resources with candidates who are likely to succeed and accept an offer."

As refinements to the online testing process have taken shape, easyJet has seen an uplift in conversion rates of those attending the face-to-face assessment centers. When candidates were tested at the assessment center itself with no prior online activity, the conversion rate of those attending to successful hire was 41%. By moving assessment online and earlier in the process, this conversion rose to 48%. By adding in the realistic job preview, the conversion is currently 55%. Therefore, fewer costly assessment centers are needed to meet target recruitment figures. In terms of cost savings, this equates more than £10,000 over three years.

However, the impact of recruiting higher-quality candidates is seen in the reduction of training course failures, an increase in role performance and an improvement in base feedback.

Taking Online Assessment into Other Job Positions

With the success of the cabin crew approach, easyJet introduced a refined process for the promotion of crew to cabin manager. Its co-pilot recruitment process has also undergone revision, with online testing benchmarked against peer group being used early in the process. With this introduction, the conversion rate at the assessment center stage has increased to over 70% — saving more than £10,000 in 2012/2013.

In addition, easyJet has seen growth of over 350% in applications to join its graduate program in the past two years. With a new process, including online verbal, numerical and inductive capability tests early in the application process, easyJet has been able to complete its graduate recruitment in the fastest time for three years. The company also runs a fewer number of assessment centers than in previous years and yet delivers the required number of graduates.

"The Situational Judgment Questionnaire has been developed for us by Aon and takes into account how we, at easyJet, want our cabin crew to act — and react — in their role. lt has been designed in conjunction with our current high-performing cabin crew members and those we seeas 'experts' within our business for this role. This means that it makes a great assessment of success within our easyJet cabin crew culture."

Ruth Spalding, Resourcing Manager at easyJet

Critical Success Factors for easyJet

lt is clear that easyJet has been able to transform its application and selection processes for some of its key job roles, speeding up time-to-hire and reducing costs — while maintaining a positive employer brand position.

This is due to easyJet's:

  • Understanding of what great performance looks like for its employees.
  • Commitment to the validity of the tests and questionnaires used to predict success in the role.
  • Creation of seamless processes for the applicant, ensuring that the ATS provider and Aon data are integrated into a single applicant record.
  • Need for a repeatable, sustainable recruitment process model suitable for use across Europe.
  • Dedication to engaging with all applicants fairly, transparently and honestly.
  • Access to, and measurement of, key success metrics: easyJet knows how these have improved and the impact these have had an the company's recruitment.
  • Continued process improvement with the goal of getting better applicants through the pipeline and into the assessment centers.
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