HMV in tune with graduates

Job sites are known to generate high volumes of response which can deliver a
mixed bag of cand-idates in terms of quality and appropriateness. When you’re a
major employer brand like HMV, appealing to a hip, internet-savvy youth market,
the scope for this to happen is even greater.

Graduates have been able to register their interest in HMV’s graduate
training programme, for assistant manager positions, via the net by completing
an online application form. This proved successful in generating high numbers
of candidates, but left the entertainment retailer with several challenges.

"The only way we could screen the candidates was by printing the forms
off and reading them," explains recruitment manager Sam Pearce. This
placed an administrative burden on the small recruitment team and slowed response

The solution lay in introducing a filtering and management system, and HMV
turned to end-to-end-recruiting company Changeworknow, which had produced
customised recruitment solutions for retailers including B&Q and
Woolworths. Together they devised a set of questionnaires that would
intelligently screen potential candidates while online.

"The main challenge was to ensure we understood the criteria for
graduates that would bring an ‘A’ type candidate, so we worked closely with HMV
to come up with the right questions," explains Lisa Astbury, sales and
marketing director at Changeworknow. "This meant challenging their
thoughts sometimes."

"For instance, we would ask ‘what value does that question bring?’. We
also wanted to bring an element of self-selection."

The solution was based on an e-commerce model where candidates enter their
details and the information flows into a back-end database. They are quizzed on
their interest in music and retail experience and on their awareness of HMV’s
in-store promotions.

Candidates receive feedback as they progress on the extent to which they
match the criteria and are given the option of continuing or withdrawing their

Within the first two months of going live, 3,800 applicants began the process
and of these, 758 submitted an application. Forty per cent of the applicants
who chose not to continue with their applications did so at the point of seeing
the screening criteria, suggesting the online questionnaires worked as a
first-level filter. More significantly, 87 per cent of the graduates who
submitted their applications, were meeting the minimum requirements for the
position, drastically reducing the number of unsuitable candidates.

"We have two intakes a year and this system means we can keep our
graduate application process open all year round," says HMV’s recruitment
and retention manager Tony Varchione.

Astbury claims that technology such as this can help cement the relationship
with the candidate. "People expect to hear back from a company within 24
hours, for instance, and this system lets them do that."

HMV will be posting all its jobs on a single site in July and will make the
front end consistent with its other recruitment activity. The next step is to
apply the same questionnaire-based process to recruit store managers and loss
prevention officers. With the engine for the questionnaire already in place,
HMV only has to come up with the right questions.

"We now want to look beyond graduates for other positions such as store
managers and with the quality of candidate we’re getting, we’ll soon be able to
build up a database of talent," says Pearce.

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