Game-based assessments help BEIS secure new recruitment excellence award

New Mark of Excellence recognises strategic approach to broadening diversity in the civil service
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By Suzannah Brecknell

20 Jul 2022

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been awarded the first ever Commissioner's Mark of Excellence, thanks to its use of new technology alongside a clear plan for improving diversity through recruitment.  

The Civil Service Commission, an independent body charged with ensuring recruitment into the civil service is fair, open and on merit, launched its Mark of Excellence this year to recognise recruitment campaigns that show outstanding innovation and commitment to improving diversity across all civil service grades.  

BEIS beat 17 other shortlisted entrants, with a campaign that included game-based assessments and video interviews scored by algorithms.  

Natalie Campbell MBE, a former civil service commissioner and chair of the commission’s judging panel, said: "The department trialled this approach as an alternative recruitment experience for certain roles, aiming for a wider candidate field and reducing the ‘time to hire’ which can often result in the loss of good candidates.  

“They also made excellent use of HR analytics and data visualisation software, giving them new insights into the journey of a diverse range of candidates throughout a campaign.”  

Five other departments or agencies were highly commended by the judges: the Office for National Statistics, Scottish Government, Ministry of Justice, Crown Prosecution Service and HM Revenue and Customs.  

Campbell said that BEIS stood out thanks to its clear strategy and wide-ranging approach to improving diversity.

"We were really looking for applications where you could see there was a coherent strategy, with actual outcomes," she told CSW.

As well as setting out a "really comprehensive application", she said BEIS "were very clear about what comes next across their strategy. What else just did a good assessment on their outcomes, and what's worked and what hasn't worked. So they were very honest about lessons learned and any areas for improvement."  

She added that the judging panel wanted to champion truly innovative work rather than projects which would fit within a department's business-as-usual work.  

"Where departments are driving a [recruitment] agenda that's aligned to that their bread and butter policy function, so we didn't necessarily see that as wildly innovative," she said, explaining that the education department would be expected to do a lot of work on apprenticeships, for example.

"BEIS were doing a whole host of things that weren't necessarily related to their policy drivers," Campbell added, including supporting carers, a prison-leavers scheme and an Autistic exchange.  

The judging panel included first civil service commissioner Baroness Gisela Stuart, Ministry of Justice permanent secretary Antonia Romeo, Cross Government Social Mobility Network founder Gerri Clement, Civil Service Disability Network vice chair Paul Willgoss, and Senior Civil Service Race to the Top Network co-chair Roxanne Ohene.  

 Winning organisations can display the award logo on all their recruitment advertisements for one year and will be taking part in an online event to share their approaches with recruitment teams across the civil service in the autumn.  

Read the most recent articles written by Suzannah Brecknell - Bridge builders: How civil servants helped the nation mourn Queen Elizabeth II

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