Testgrid's entirely new process development gets results for Dulux
For its new state-of-the-art site, Dulux has opted to test job applicants before screening resumes, and proactively model the workplace culture on its most-engaged businesses.
Hiring for the brand new, highly automated Dulux Merrifield factory gave operations manager David King the opportunity to start the recruitment process with a "blank slate", where culture was the number-one focus.
"Given it's a brand new facility, we wanted to focus not on what [each] person was going to do, but more the culture of the team that we were trying to build," he says. "The factory environment is quite different [to other Dulux sites], in terms of it's a lot more automated."
Defining a new recruitment system
King visited existing Dulux sites identified through engagement surveys as having the highest engagement levels, and tried to "latch onto" the elements of culture that had contributed to those high engagement scores.
"We did a bit of work early on, taking the cultural definition and asking what does the ideal candidate look like [working] in that space?" he says. "That's when we started to define a system to recruit people."
Partnering with psychometric testing firm Testgrid helped King identify the people with the skills required for 37 new operations roles, and to explain the ideal candidate to the market.
"Normally we would go to market and say we want people with manufacturing experience... and you get a group of people with manufacturing experience that are pretty used to doing things the same old way."
Rather than look for experience, King says the focus was on "trying to capture people's imaginations", so candidates could see themselves working in an environment they might not have previously considered.
"We were very successful in appealing to those people that had never thought about manufacturing roles before."
The strategy was a success, he says, with 50% of new hires joining with no previous manufacturing experience, and 28% of roles going to women – which King points out is well above the industry average.
Psychometric testing played a big role here, he says.
From those results, candidates progressed through to the video interview stage, where questioning focused on culture, and after reviewing around 200 of these, King and his production manager selected 120 candidates to go through to an assessment centre – "something we've never done for these roles previously".
Across six days, with 20 people in each centre, group activities were designed to assess how candidates interacted with each other, while smaller groups then worked on simulations of how the plant would run, to assess natural ability to run the control systems.
"As the groups split down, one [group] would be doing the interviewing, one was getting an overview of what it would be like working in a factory," King says.
Fourteen Dulux representatives observed the assessments, together with a Testgrid facilitator, providing feedback about each candidate's likely fit, before settling on the successful candidates.
The Bigger Picture
From the first application to commencement the hiring process took close to five months, and King says there was initially some internal resistance, with leaders suggesting the dropout rate from candidates would be too high.
"In the very first testing process, there was probably up to 100 [candidates] that didn't complete the test," he says. "That was the perfect first screening process for us. If you don't want to spend an hour doing a test, then you are definitely not someone we want to spend our time on [recruiting]."
Those same detractors now say it's a "fantastic process", he says, and Dulux is replicating it across other sites, though at a smaller scale.
And while the investment is significant, King says, "it is worth spending to get the people we did".
"Our filtering process was a lot better than you'd get [just reading] resumes."
Testgrid has played a vital role in helping Dulux develop a strong internal talent team and bring the focus to strategy alignment between talent acquisition and developement.