An online system works
Traditionally, FRS’s have had concerns about using an online promotions platform, ranging from the reliability of the IT set-up to how well candidates would manage. The pandemic actually helped in this regard; video conferencing was suddenly the hosting norm from team meetings to birthday celebrations; almost overnight it was clear what the advantages of an online approach to assessment were.
With careful planning, and plenty of information shared at every step, the CPG system has performed well. There have been hiccups; for instance, issues with logging in (for security reasons passwords are necessarily complex), and sticking to a timetable can be as challenging on-line as it is at an assessment centre! But open communication has been key, allowing us to troubleshoot problems and tweak processes.
IT checks work
Going over a step-by-step checklist with someone from IT is never time wasted! Whether it’s making sure the screen resolution is correct, internal software is up-to-date or that phone lines are working, it makes sure everything runs to plan when it matters.
Using external assessors works
- Professional assessors can deliver detailed assessments in less time than non-professional assessors, freeing up HR department for other essential projects.
- Psychologists draw links between exercise results and attitudes and behaviour which underpin assessment performance.
- As performance coaches they can deliver feedback in reports and over the phone applying coaching principles to facilitate development.
- They are impartial and unbiased, ensuring that the promotions process is fair and robust.
- They are very skilled multi-taskers! They roleplay and assess simultaneously, keeping the costs of assessment lower than usual.
Data gathering works
Candidates complete a short feedback survey after each exercise, which is how we know how they feel about the process. Using that information, we can continually adapt and improve. We also know which candidates have additional time, and by tracking results we can see that the exercises don’t have any adverse impact on candidates who are neuro-diverse. With over 12 months of data we have now been able to analyse performance results in detail, from exercise reliability to useful observations about the leadership qualities.
FRS context exercises work
Whether assessing on-call and wholetime firefighters, or control room staff, the fictious FRS context exercises mean there’s no advantage to anyone with particular experience because all relevant information is included in the exercise. The familiar context helps candidates see the relevance of the tasks and removes some of the stress. The only levels this doesn’t apply to is Firefighter recruitment (to avoid advantage to on-call applying to be wholetime) and Area Manager CPG, which uses the same format of exercises but in a fictious non-FRS work environment (as per best practice at this level).
Feedback coaching calls work
These calls were introduced after the trial, to meet the needs of candidates who wanted more in terms of discussion on their performance and some direction over next steps, and to take the time pressure off internal staff for whom delivering feedback on unfamiliar exercises would be more challenging. The feedback session quickly evolved to a more ‘coaching style’, drawing on both the thirst of candidates to learn more, and the skills of the psychologists to provide additional support. Candidates report finding these sessions practical and rewarding.