Skip to main content

Putting Candidates in the Spotlight

National Theatre were winners of the 2017 Caterer.com People Award for Candidate Experience.

There are less than two weeks left to enter the 2018 Caterer.com People Awards. The deadline is 25th June and there are 13 categories in which to enter.

If you have an initiative or programme you think should be noticed, now’s the time to get the recognition you and your team deserve! Enter here.

Last year, with a very strong entry, the National Theatre won the award for Candidate Experience.

“We were completely blown away by winning,” said Geraldine McCormick, Acting Head of Audience Experience at the National Theatre. “It enforces that we are on the right track and we can only get better.  It also gives recognition to the work we are trying to do and that we are succeeding. I am so very proud of the team and what we have achieved.”

For the Candidate Experience category, the judges wanted to see initiatives that delivered an excellent end to end candidate experience and successfully delivered results back to the business. They looked for evidence of a structured approach, tailored to the needs of the candidate, which embraced creative and digital means to deliver a highly positive candidate experience at all stages of the hiring process.

Placing the visitor at the heart of everything.

The Commercial Operations department of the National Theatre comprises Catering, Commercial Events, Retail, House Management, Tours and Visiting, as well as the support teams; Stage Door, Support Services, House Keeping, Audience Experience and Commercial Finance. The team, with combined staffing levels of 500, share resources and expertise. They support one another so that the department can offer the best possible service to their audience and visitors and encourage them to keep coming back. Geraldine explains, “We are committed to placing the visitor at the heart of everything we do, sharing our enthusiasm and passion for what the National Theatre represents. We want to provide show-stopping eating and shopping, with great facilities and staff who care, matching the quality of what’s on stage.”

Geraldine said that in order to improve service and maintain it, a review of recruitment practices was required. “There was no joined-up customer journey or service approach,” she said. “There was no consistent business performance analysis. There were inconsistent standards and systems, and also what we call ‘passive’ customer service.” Geraldine also said that skills among team members were underutilised. They really wanted to make the audience experience more responsive to customer needs.”

Hiring for personality, not skill.

In the National Theatre’s new recruitment process, there are no application forms or a complicated application stages, and candidates apply via NT’s on-line portal, channelling applicants towards an Open Day. If they can make the open day they will be guaranteed an interview. “We hire for personality not for skill,” says Geraldine. “We think this allows us to be more open to people’s talent as an organisation and not get bogged down in how well someone can sell themselves on paper or their previous work experience.”

Gaining valuable experience.

NT have a very short speed-date style interview, with six questions lasting about 15 minutes max. “Those successful in demonstrating our audience experience core values in the Open Day will go through to the second and final stage of the recruitment process; an assessment centre, which we call the Audience Experience Workshop,” Geraldine explained. “Here candidates are asked to participate in a series of group exercises which are designed to show us how they interact in a team environment, their customer focus and their all-important personalities. It is a really fun morning where candidates have the opportunity to gain confidence and meet new people, so even those who are not successful leave us having gained valuable experience from the process. We believe this is one of the ways in which we can give something back to the candidate for the time they spent with us.”

Geraldine said that since these new programmes have been put in place, NT has witnessed a much more engaged and focused work force. “People want to work here not only because it pays the rent but they believe in what we do and are committed.”

Strong on diversity.

With a strong and evident policy on diversity, the National Theatre ensures that this programme is an integral part of the candidate experience. “We wanted to increase diversity,” said Geraldine. “We’re developing a culture in Commercial Operations where diversity is hard-wired into everything we do, is understood by all of us, and where we all have an opportunity to be part of the ongoing conversation”.

“We have seen successful BAME candidates rise from 12% in 2015 to 25% in 2017 and this year 27%. A similar improvement can be found in the numbers from candidates who have declared a disability, rising from 6% to 8% over the 3 years.”

“In 2015 the gender balance of our successful candidates was 57.78% male to 42.22% female,” Geraldine noted. “This changed wildly in 2017 to 75% female to 25% male. However this year it has improved once again to 36% male to 61% female and 3 % choosing not to declare.”

Enter now.

If, like the National Theatre, you have a programme that you want to shout about, get your entries to us now. Don’t forget that entries close on June 25th.