HR Hartley

Spot the leaders with Blue Peter tasks

Winter may have been the season of discontent for Richard of York, but for
me it was summer, thanks to graduate recruitment. It was a pain made worse by
conducting batteries of pointless tests.

Like many HR directors, I had to help devise ways to sort the intellectual
wheat from the chaff while recruiting graduates.

The state used to help, but now that every other 20-something is armed with
a 2:1 or better from the University of Perpetual Debt, the onus is increasingly
on us in HR.

This led me down some pretty bizarre paths and proved Blue Peter is a
must-watch show for managers involved in graduate recruitment.

How so? Well, we tried online assessment tests, followed by psychometric
testing, rounded off with three to five days’ work shadowing. It got us so far,
but not far enough, and I was still left with more than twice as many pegs as
holes. There had to be a better way.

Enter the Blue Peter box of tricks! We forced the wretches to undergo a
day’s activities that tested their ability to think creatively and display
leadership qualities. For us, it’s all about shoving them in a room with paper,
card, sticks, scissors, milk bottle tops and sticky-back plastic, and
instructed them to build a bridge, a motorway service area or an executive toy.
Tracey Emin eat your heart out!

You should see some of these youngsters go. Of course it’s filmed, and it
doesn’t take much to spot the thinkers, the leaders, the doers and the

Take my advice: cut out the fancy assessment tests and go straight to the
Blue Peter stage. It really does work.

Hartley is an HR director at large

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