Booths Case Study: New Store Assessment Process 

booths logo

Client Profile

Industry Sector: Food and Drink Retailer
Number of employees: 3,000+
Location: Preston, UK


Booths is a chain of high-end stores predominantly based in the North West of England, specialising in providing locally sourced, high quality foods and goods for its customers. Since the 1800s, five generations of the Booths family have led E.H. Booth & Co. Ltd from its humble beginnings, with just one small shop, to the present day where the company proudly boasts no fewer than 28 stores, all in the North West of the UK. The Booths philosophy is simple; “Sell the best goods available, in attractive stores, employed with first class assistants.” Booths has grown from a food store business to incorporating other services, such as cafés.


Booths’ success has led to sustained growth over the years, resulting in two new stores being opened in Media City and Penrith in 2011. This multiple store opening required the mass recruitment of several store staff at Head of Department, Supervisor and General Assistant Levels. Booths approached a&dc to assist in the design of a bespoke set of simulation exercises that would be used in an Assessment Centre to measure the most relevant skills and behaviours of their store staff. The new exercises needed to reflect the changing culture of Booths, as they built larger stores in more urban areas that would require a greater commercial focus, whilst retaining the high level of customer service that is engrained in their culture. Booths wanted to use the exercises for the recruitment of all future store staff across existing and new stores, and therefore needed assessments that accommodated both their current cultural and behavioural aspects, along with the required future behaviours deemed important for sustained success. Given the anticipated high volume of candidates, it was evident that Booths would require an effective sifting process, which would ensure that only the most capable and suitable candidates would be present at the Assessment Centre. The sifting process would need to be highly objective and cost effective, whilst providing the candidates with a positive perception of the Booths brand. Along with a measure of the key skills and behaviours at the sifting phase, Booths also wanted to assess the candidates’ levels of fit to the values and culture of the organisation before inviting successful candidates to the Assessment Centre.


Booths partnered with a&dc in designing a robust selection process for three levels of store staff, from a candidate’s initial application through to hiring into post. The final solution was a blend of ready-to-use products with bespoke assessments that measured the key skills and behaviours required for success within Booths’ stores, along with candidates’ level of fit to Booths’ values.

Stages One and Two: The Sifting

Process The first stage of the sifting process asks candidates to complete one or two of a&dc’s ready-touse online Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs). SJTs present candidates with a series of relevant and realistic scenarios that they would be likely to face within their future roles, and asks them to rate the effectiveness of a series of actions in response to each scenario. Head of Department and Supervisor candidates are asked to complete a&dc’s Management Dilemmas™ and Customer Service Dilemmas™ SJTs, as both managerial and customer-facing behaviours are essential for these roles. General Assistants were asked to complete the Customer Service Dilemmas SJT only. SJTs not only provide the candidates with a realistic job preview, but all aspects of administration and scoring are automated, meaning Booths’ recruitment staff do not have to spend time reviewing hundreds of applications. Candidates also receive a feedback report, produced  automatically regardless of outcome, meaning that Booths’ brand is still perceived favourably by successful and unsuccessful candidates.
Candidates successful at the SJT stage are then invited to take part in stage two of the assessment process: a values telephone interview with a member of the Booths recruitment team. The values interview was designed by a&dc to provide Booths with an objective measure of the candidates’ levels of fit to the embedded values that drive the day to day running of Booths’ stores and the behaviours of their staff. The interview was designed using competency-based and strengthsbased questions that would take a maximum of 20 minutes to complete. This provided Booths with an objective measure of the candidates’ alignment to their values that would not require excessive resources or time to deliver it.

Stage Three: Assessment Centre Exercises

Candidates who are successful at the values interview are then invited to attend a one-day Assessment Centre. a&dc worked with Booths to design a series of bespoke assessments for their Heads of Department, Supervisor and General Assistant roles that would measure the key skills and behaviours identified as essential for success. The types of assessments and content within them were determined by an analysis of the three different roles by the Booths HR team and collaborative working between Booths and a&dc. Two simulation exercises were designed, as well as a Competency Based Interview for each level, to provide a highly comprehensive assessment of each candidate’s ability across several skills and behaviours.

To ensure the assessments would be fair and objective, yet quick to score, a&dc designed an easy to score ‘tick box’ marking guide that recruiters can use quickly and with ease without losing the robustness and objectivity of the assessment process.


Booths have successfully recruited several high calibre applicants to the Head of Department, Supervisor and General Assistant roles using this new assessment process. It has enabled the organisation to find highly talented people with the right capabilities, values and motivations to join the organisation and work in the roles required.

What the client says

“New to the organisation and to the retail industry, I was tasked with making recommendations on how we could effectively recruit the right people with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours to staff our new store openings. The guidance and support received from a&dc as experts in this field has proved to be really valuable for Booths and myself in delivering the project. Following a recommendation from our HR Director, I contacted a&dc and was instantly impressed by their professionalism. They took time to really understand what our business requirements were, and faced with the added challenge of limited timescales, were extremely flexible with their approach without compromising on the quality of the service they delivered to us. We worked closely together to design and implement a bespoke recruitment process that not only measured the core competencies that were identified as being key to the posts we needed to fill, but also encapsulated our culture and values. Their support did not stop there – a&dc continued to support us by training our store managers. The training delivery has been excellent in equipping our managers with the skills required to assess the candidates in line with best practice. The Situational Judgment Tests have been valuable in allowing us to filter through hundreds of candidates, also saving us management time. The high quality of candidates coming through the process was apparent from the first assessment day we held for our Media City Heads of Department in June. We have now concluded the recruitment process at Media City, filling the majority of the posts for our new store opening and have begun the process for Penrith. Feedback from our Store Managers has been excellent; they’ve been really impressed with the quality of candidates coming through the process, compared to previous store openings. The time that a&dc put into understanding our business and the scope of the project filled us with confidence that their prime goal was to deliver tools that would be best suited for us as a business. We will therefore be hoping to continue our relationship with a&dc as the company to help us through this period of change.”  Meenal Panchal, HR Business Partner, Booths