Personnel Today Awards 2019: DSTL raises the game with Innovation in Recruitment win

The DTSL team collect their Innovation in Recruitment Award at the 2019 Personnel Today Awards ceremony

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory wowed the Personnel Today Awards 2019 judges with an innovative online game that aimed to raise awareness of the agency and help fill more than 50 roles in its Cyber and Information Systems division. We look at the entry that helped them secure the Innovation in Recruitment Award, along with our other finalists’ entries.



Dstl, also known as the Defence and Science Technology Laboratory, is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence. After finding that some of its better-known competitors were taking the best talent, it launched a challenging online game, called Counter Threat, to raise awareness of the agency and help fill more than 50 roles in its Cyber and Information Systems (CIS) division.

Counter Threat is a decision-based game where players prioritise resources and remove threats. Six thousand people have played the game and six of whom hold the top score because they hacked the game to remain top of the leaderboard – which was the result Dstl was looking for as it revealed the applicants who were curious and skilled enough to dig deeper.

The Counter Threat website also includes pages that tells candidates about the different CIS areas, roles available, benefits and the mind set the organisation looks for. Due to the sensitive nature of its work, it had to use graphics to show what underpins the kinds of projects candidates would work on.

More than 500 people clicked through to its application page and more than 100 people have applied. The quality of applications has also increased and it has been successful in attracting candidates with hard-to-find skills.



Professional services firm Accenture revamped its graduate selection process to provide candidates with insight into the company’s values, expectations and how it was embracing and shaping new technology.

It developed the Accenture Discovery Portal in partnership with Capp, which sees candidates navigate through a number of content panels in order to build a behavioural and cognitive profile. Ninety per cent of the candidates that used the portal said they did not feel like they were taking a traditional recruitment test.

The company also decided to revises processes at its assessment centre and began using Capp’s virtual reality platform instead of group exercises. Each candidate experiences three very different assessment environments such as the Agility Room, which tests candidates through a variety of tasks, and the Project Room, which provides candidates with a number of challenging scenarios to adapt to.

Candidates reported that the assessments were more practical and related to the job role on offer, and some described it as a refreshing break from traditional application processes.

Edinburgh Airport

After experiencing a 38% growth in passenger numbers between 2014 and 2018, Edinburgh Airport has been making significant investment in new jobs, with a particular focus on data, project delivery and digital skills. However, it faced a number of key problems: low levels of unemployment in the locality, public transport options that do not support shift working, a potential Brexit-related labour supply shock and strict airside pass requirements that rule out people with criminal records and referencing difficulties.

To help meet its resourcing needs, the airport launched a new Recruitment Centre with an in-house recruitment team to support every business within the airport – there are over 100 different employers on site.

With support from the Department for Work and Pensions, which provided a senior-level secondment to the recruitment team, it held a jobs fair for all staff affected by the closure of a local factory; webinars that discuss current vacancies; and courses to support unemployed people into a career at the airport.

Other initiatives included a new careers website; better use of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for recruitment; direct advertising and careers fairs for ex-forces personnel; and apprenticeships in IT roles.


Software company SAP is currently on a mission to get women into 30% of its management roles by 2022 (currently 26%).

It initially launched #WomenWhoRock as a social media campaign, but through leadership of its Global Employer Brand team it evolved into a concert for potential job candidates. The first event featured Grammy award-winning artist KT Tunstall. Before the concert, a networking event was held to build the SAP Internship Experience Program pipeline and saw 60 potential candidates hear from talent acquisition and business leaders.

The main venue housed a VIP area to give experienced hires networking opportunities. One hundred attended a networking session with recruiters, which was followed up by a Q&A session with business leaders and KT Tunstall herself. Almost 850 people attended the event. Once the concert was over, attendees were given signed KT Tunstall photos bearing the SAP logo and #WomenWhoRock hashtag.

As a direct result of this campaign, more than 150 are going through the recruitment process and 14 offers were made to intern candidates, with a further 25 in the pipeline for the next intake.

The Hoxby Collective

The Hoxby Collective is a community of self-employed professionals that provides “futureproof” consultancy services to help businesses evolve for the future of work. Its virtual agency includes more than 800 freelancers across 30 countries, but it has small “core” teams to build its infrastructure.

Prior to 2018 it interviewed candidates to see if they were a cultural fit, but it realised it needed to innovate and transform its selection process in order to grow.

Now, candidates must submit their CV and answer one question: “Why do you want to be a Hoxby and what does the #workstyle movement mean to you?”. They can provide their answer in any form they like – from a video to a song – and this is assessed against a pre-set criteria including attention to detail, how it aligns with Hoxby’s work and values, and its effectiveness.

Then, candidates are asked to complete a trial task in their own time. Tasks are real work on live internal projects to help candidates understand how the organisation works and engages with others. Previous examples include writing blog posts, developing short learning material and proposals on new markets.

The organisation said the new process enables quicker assessment of candidates, reduced cost of selection, provides real-life experience of what their roles are like and builds engagement with the organisation.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Significant UK workforce shortages in radiology meant that NHS hospitals across the UK spent an estimated £116m on outsourcing and related overtime in 2018. The national shortfall in consultant radiologists was the catalyst for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMB) to develop, launch and implement the Global Fellows Programme.

The programme is an international collaborative between the NHS, the Royal College of Radiologists and Apollo Radiology International in India and provides an ethical recruitment route for radiologists to work in the NHS on an “Earn, learn, return” basis for three years. It targets and attracts doctors (clinical radiologists) who have the internationally-recognised FRCR qualification.

A unique aspect of the programme is the four week cultural induction, delivered by Consultants with contemporary NHS experience, in Hyderabad (India) before the Global Fellows arrive in the UK.
UHMB said that the pilot phase of the programme has been successful in both appointing clinicians from a range of background and specialties; and testing proof of concept, ahead of a larger-scale programme across the NHS, in which UHMB plays a lead role.

President of the Royal College of Radiologists, Dr Nicola Strickland, said: “The NHS is struggling with well-documented radiologist shortages and hospitals need to pioneer new solutions – Morecambe Bay has shown tremendous innovation in piloting the scheme.”

Following the successful on-boarding of four Global Fellows at UHMBT, the national programme was formally launched in June 2019, and during phase 1 of the three-year national roll-out, a further 24 Global Fellow programme placement offers were secured. A figure which is set to increase exponentially through the lifespan of the programme, as more and more NHS Trusts firm up their participation in the programme.

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