London Gatwick is one of Europe’s busiest airports, having served over 46 million passengers in 2019. In late 2021, the airport operated at less than 50% capacity, but travel was rebounding. The team at London Gatwick had a job ahead to recruit the people they needed to get up and running again.
Giles Kinrade leads talent acquisition at the airport. To return to operating as normal, Giles and his team needed to hire 500 security personnel—an immensely critical role for ensuring airport safety and smooth operations.
Previously, Giles and his team of recruiters used a situational judgement questionnaire that they developed in-house. “It wasn’t effective at screening our candidates,” said Giles. The multiple-choice assessment had been leaked online, making it unreliable. After the questionnaire, successful applicants were invited to an in-person group interview with up to 5 other candidates. Giles explained, “The people who passed the online test didn’t reflect those who sat in front of us at the in-person interview. We had to use our own managers and the rest of the HR team to manage the recruitment process. It became a logistical nightmare managing the volume we were dealing with,” explained Giles.
This interview approach drew resources away from other parts of the business. “We had six security team managers conducting interviews for a whole week. So they’d do a week’s worth of interviews instead of a week’s worth of security team management. It wasn’t the ideal way to utilise their time. The quality of the candidate experience and the interview was not where it needed to be,” Giles added.
Giles discovered Sapia.ai after seeing the successful results achieved by Qantas Airways in scaling their hiring efforts.
London Gatwick now uses Sapia.ai for their volume passenger-facing roles, including security officers, team managers, graduates and apprentices. All candidates start their application with a Chat Interview. Sapia.ai analyses the results and the process is seamlessly integrated into eArcu, their applicant tracking system. Successful candidates proceed to a telephone interview for further suitability checks to work at the airport. Every applicant, successful or not, receives personalised feedback following their Chat Interview, a key improvement in the candidate experience that wasn’t possible before due to the volume of applicants.
The quality of the talent pool reaching the interview stage has improved drastically since adopting Sapia.ai. Giles said, “Previously, only a third of people who reached the interview stage were successful, but now 80% of people interviewed are successful”.
After hiring, new security officers must complete a mandatory training course from the Civil Aviation Authority to work at the airport. With Sapia.ai integrated into their hiring process, the airport has observed a 33% increase in the number of security officers passing the training course. Giles said, “100% of security officers have passed the training course since we started using Sapia.ai, whereas before we were lucky to get a 75% pass rate.”
Giles has seen a dramatic reduction in time to offer thanks to the new screening approach. “Our time to offer is now just 2 weeks, down from a minimum of 5 weeks previously.” Giles continued, “It previously took us a year to hire 450 people. Now, in the last 7 weeks alone, we’ve extended offers to 172 people—something that wouldn’t have been possible without Sapia.ai.”
Finally, the new process has received positive feedback from candidates, with 91% positive sentiment recorded from 9,600 completed Chat Interviews. Giles concluded, “Our quality of hire in terms of test pass rates has improved significantly. Our time to hire has also improved massively, and our candidate satisfaction scores speak for themselves.”
“All of these candidates could be passengers, and just because you’re not right for Gatwick doesn’t mean you’re not right for one of the ground handlers or one of the retail and hospitality brands. If we can give you a decent experience, you might go on to work for one of them.”
Talent Acquisition Lead, London Gatwick