VT Group Case Study: Graduate Assessment


Client profile:

Industry sector: Construction / Engineering

Number of employees: 1,300+

Location: Worldwide 



The Graduate Recruitment programme at VT Group was a core focus of the HR team in terms of planning and budget. The company conducts an annual recruitment round after which 12-14 graduates are taken on across various business functions including HR, General Management and Ship Building.

The existing exercises and assessment process had been developed in-house and was in need of objective review to ensure that the investment in graduate recruitment would deliver the best possible return.

VT Group were familiar with a&dc as providers of Assessment Centre Exercises and invited them to conduct a thorough review of existing materials and practices with particular emphasis on the final Assessment Centre.

While a key objective was to retain the contextual accuracy provided by the assessment exercises created in-house; it was also necessary to update these materials in order that they could be implemented in line with current best practice.

Since internal assessors would continue to manage the assessment process and mark assessment exercises, updating their skills and giving them confidence in the process would also be a focus for a&dc.

The team were working to a tight deadline, since any changes to the existing process would need to be in place prior to the forthcoming round of graduate assessment centres, due to take place just 8 weeks from the start of the project.


Taking a systematic 5-stage approach, a&dc responded to the brief in 5 key stages. Action was then agreed which would achieve the specified results within budget and on deadline.

1. Job Analysis
Evaluation of the assessment process began with a thorough analysis of the requirements of the target role.  Analysis included a review of job adverts, the specified graduate competencies and behavioural competency framework.

2. Assessment Centre Design
An updated competency-exercise matrix was created which would ensure that the Assessment Centre was as effective as possible. Designed for optimum results, the matrix allowed for key competencies to be assessed at least twice and preferably three times. The range of Exercises included a mix of working scenarios, in which participants could demonstrate their capabilities when working alone, one-to-one and in groups.

Minimal adjustments were required to ensure that the existing exercises, which had been designed in-house would be as effective as possible. A scoring framework and ‘wash-up process’ were also designed which would assist assessors in making objective and accurate decisions.

“A key objective for us was to deliver a set of materials which would be user-friendly and comprehensible. Clear guidance notes, marking guidelines and timetables would support assessors in making the right decisions independently; and therefore to achieve the best possible return on their investment.”

3. Assessment Centre Development
As well as making some adjustments to the existing assessment exercises, the competency-based interview was re-designed, making it a more substantial part of the Assessment Centre than before. Competency Based Interviews assess an individual by asking them to make reference to their actions in various challenging situations in the past.

This type of Exercise can be used to assess any combination of competencies and is therefore an excellent compliment to work simulation Exercises during an Assessment Centre. Including a more substantial CBI added value to the Assessment Centre through allowing assessors could gain a rounder picture of participants’ skills and behaviours.

4. Training 
a&dc provided training for internal assessors according to their level of experience. Not only did this increase the skill set and confidence of the team; but in addition, attendance on the courses helped to ensure that assessors would to fully understand and support the new graduate assessment process.

5. Implementation

a&dc provided active support in running the assessment centres in which the changes to established processes were implemented. This helped to embed the new materials and processes within the organisation and gave the team complete peace of mind during the events.


Having put the new materials and processes into action at the subsequent assessment centres, the overwhelming response from Participants and Assessors alike was positive.

Overall, feedback showed that the assessment centre was credible, objective and reliable. 14 graduates were successfully recruited in the 2006 recruitment round.

The updated Exercises reflected the culture and job roles at VT Group well, leading to increased confidence that the top performing participants would also be well to suited to the job roles and the organisation.

Following this project, a&dc were invited to conduct a further and more detailed review of Graduate recruitment within VT Group.

What the client says

“The aim of this project was to afford VT Group the skills and materials to run the most effective assessment centres possible, while retaining as much as possible the existing exercise content and context. a&dc responded well to the brief, and delivered both the tools and support we needed.” Jo Leech, VT Group Graduate Recruitment & Development Manager.