Highlighting Personality
That Deliver the Brand

Pushing the boundaries of assessment
at Jurys Inn Hotel Group

The Challenge

Focusing on Only the Very Best Applicants and Ignoring the Rest

Sam Shepherd, head of HR at Jurys Inn, comments: "For us, the issue is not about attracting people to our company as we receive over 40,000 applications each year. It's about managing the applications so that we get to focus on the right people for our company early on and to not be distracted by those who are not going to succeed. We are not looking for specific skills because we can train people to do the job. In hospitality, success comes from people dealing with people and, if you don't get that right, it just isn't going to work."

Sam continues:
"We know that, as a company, we can bring somebody into our industry without any experience but, with the right personality, that person can learn and be trained and progress through the business. We are happy to provide this investment in training for the right candidates who can have a career in hospitality." This development and growth is reflected in the fact that over 70% of the general managers have been promoted internally through the business with a number of those starting as graduates and some beginning in first-level positions, such as kitchen porters and bar staff."

The Solution

Highlighting Personality Characteristics That Deliver the Brand

A business impact study with 150 current Jurys Inn employees highlighted common characteristics of their best people. Together with Aon (formerly cut-e), they developed a simple traffic light rating system (red, amber, green) to use alongside the scores on an applicant's questionnaire results. This showed clearly which of the applicants would be a good fit; green being the ideal candidate, amber being not too sure and red being the people that were not going to fit culturally within the company.

"We were confident in what the questionnaire was telling us, given the analysis that had been done. In fact, we were so confident and so sure that we didn't want to allow any possible distraction or subjectivity coming into the process, that we chose to 'hide' the applicants with a red coding. It means that recruiters don't get to see the application and we have reduced time spent on unsuitable applications."

Sam Shepherd, Head of HR at Jurys Inn

The Outcome

Significantly Reducing the Applicant Pool and Increasing Its Quality

Sam summarizes how this has impacted the recruitment process, saying:

"This quite simple action of hiding those not suitable has had a significant impact for us. We've been able to remove up to 62% of an applicant Pool because we know through valid assessment that they don't have the value set that fits with the culture of our business and what it takes to be successful in our company."

For example, applications for a food and beverage role may have been approximately 65 in number. Now the recruiter only gets to view 30 applications. "lt means we can shortlist and hire far quicker than before. We now know that the quality of candidates is going to be far higher and so the time that it takes to recruit is much less."

"Managers are now spending less time screening and interviewing and the time that they do spend is only with the best-quality candidates. And this is very important as every time a manager is sat in an interview, they're not out there on the floor helping our customers. This approach to focusing on only the right candidates for our hotels is a huge win for us."

Using Valid Assessments to Categorize Applicants

Making sure the best fit candidates are employed means that Jurys Inn is building a talent pipeline for the future and helping to improve retention.

However, people do leave and, because Jurys Inn also collects data on reasons for leaving, Sam wanted to look closely at that and see if there was anything further they could spot in recruitment that would help better understand how long a person would remain with the company.

Can Jurys Inn Predict Someone Leaving?

Aon helped analyze the leaver data from the previous five years, alongside the results of the shapes personality questionnaire. When leaving, a Jurys Inn employee is asked to give a reason from a multiple choice list. For example, new job, more pay, new town, studying, dismissed, promoted within the hotel group, no show. These were categorized into red and green. 'Green' is allocated to a 'good' leaver, if the person is leaving for a positive reason initiated by him or her. 'Red' is allocated to so-called bad leavers, i.e. a dismissal.

General labor turnover is typically around 50% in the hospitality industry. Although Jurys Inn have had several years in which they have been below that figure, reducing the churn rate as far as possible is important. Lower turnover clearly means lower recruitment and training costs. Lowering turnover also positively impacts productivity, operational excellence and delivering service to customers.

Understanding What Makes a Good Leaver

The data analysis showed that good leavers tend to stay 60% longer than average tenure. The best predictors of people staying longer were their scores on the shapes scales relating to:

  • Being conscientious;
  • Being canny or having good judgment;
  • Being more open to change.

"By looking at bad leavers, meaning those asked to leave, we can see that these people scored low on the conscientious scale and have little need for support. In effect, these are the people who tend not to persevere and don't want to be managed. These are the people we don't want to be hiring."

Sam Shepherd, Head of HR at Jurys Inn

Understanding What Makes the
Top 20% Special

"But we also want to look at our top 20% of people who are staying — and what makes them special. These are the people who are staying, meeting standards and contributing well over time," says Sam.

The analysis highlighted that the shapes profile of the top 20% of people who stay indicate:

  • A desire to influence
  • That they are driven by recognition
  • That they are competitive

"Those that like to stay seem to like the micro environment of the hotel, where success for them is obtained in a local setting. They like the recognition of the manager, competing to be great and shaping what's happening within the hotel. This is good information to understand how to manage, train and hire people."

Sam Shepherd, Head of HR at Jurys Inn

The Next Challenge

Meeting the Needs of the Mobile Jobseeker?

"Recruiting based on personality rather than qualification or experience begs the question: does the CV need to be reviewed by the HR team? And with the younger workforce wanting to apply via their smartphone or tablet, we worked with Aon and ZeroLime to see what was technologically possible."

Sam Shepherd, Head of HR at Jurys Inn

The Jurys Inn contact centers reflect the typical high labor turnover associated with this type of entry-level, no-experience-needed call center work. Nonetheless, Jurys Inn want to help applicants understand the reality of the job and so developed a short online `quiz' signposted from the recruitment advert. lt asks potential applicants a few questions so that they can decide if the job is right for them.

They get instant feedback based on their responses. Some are encouraged to apply and, for those whose responses do not quite match the reality of the role, they are prompted to think if this is the role for them. Either way, all may continue to apply and the online assessment is presented, followed by a video interview of themselves answering five very straightforward questions. There is no CV and no application form, which makes for an attractive candidate journey.

The hiring manager is able to see the assessment results and choose to watch the video responses. "This is so much quicker and of greater value than reading a CV from someone with no or little work experience. And for the applicant, it can be done without sending lots of information and they can progress through the stages quickly as well as getting a good impression of our brand and understanding that, as a company, we are very technologically advanced. I do think that, for these people, the CV is something that is outdated."

Sam concludes: "Working with Aon as an assessment partner is refreshing. The team wants to understand the impact that the assessments are having on our business and together we have been able to dig deeper and study the data to see how we can refine our understanding to get better people, reduce time and inefficiencies and contribute to our business success."


Personality is a significant contributing factor to success for those working in the hospitality industry. By knowing what personality and value characteristics make for success in Jurys Inn, the company has introduced a simple traffic light rating system to code initial applicant results on the personality questionnaire.

lt then focuses only on those with the values that fit with this organization, discounting those who do not possess these values. This has helped reduce the 40,000+ applications to be reviewed each year by approximately 62%. lt has also, through the analysis of its talent data, been able to learn what makes for good and bad leavers.

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