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ASDA: Online Assessment & Pre-Selection

ASDA Recruitment Case Study


With a recruitment philosophy of ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’, ASDA differentiates itself from the traditional retail approach where applicants are typically only invited to interviews if they have the right skills or previous relevant experience.

So how does a high volume recruiter with such a philosophy go about implementing this in their recruitment process?

Back in 2002, ASDA was using a paper-based recruitment process for their graduate and management positions with 22,000 applications being manually sifted by their 5-strong resourcing team. The process was resource hungry, slow, inefficient and undifferentiated from the competition.


  • 65% reduction in the workload associated with recruitment, saving of around £30,000 annually.
  • £60,000 reduction in the need for press advertising
  • 30% increase in the success of the recruitment process.
  • 70% reduction in the number of candidates put through costly assessment centres.
  • Reduced the end-to-end recruitment process by 84% to an average of just 5 days.

For many years ‘hire for attitude’ meant conducting generic psychometric tests during assessment centres on an ad-hoc basis. The journey to a different approach started when ASDA suggested that attitude is such an important factor in selection, that they shouldn’t even give a candidate a second glance unless they shared the ASDA values. ASDA therefore began to embrace the challenge of how it could meaningfully and consistently assess the values of every applicant for management/ graduate positions whilst keeping their costs down. The process would also have to meet the needs of all the stakeholders involved including:

  • Candidates
  • The ASDA Resourcing team
  • Recruiters in the training stores
  • The Distribution team
  • Colleagues at George home office and ASDA House Senior managers

Criterion Partnership and the ASDA resourcing team therefore held a number of listening groups across all areas of the business to understand what their customers and candidates were looking for from a system, what was in use already in the UK, and where things were headed in the future.


To deliver value to the business the initiative had a number of objectives to meet:

  1. Reduce the volume of candidates reaching the later stages
  2. Speed up the recruitment process
  3. Reduce the administrative burden
  4. Deliver higher calibre candidates
  5. Differentiate ASDA from the competition

Our Approach

Further to this research ASDA worked with Criterion to implement a web-based recruitment system that was rolled out in 3 distinct phases, enabling continuous improvement and ensuring that ASDA remained ahead of the competition.



The first system included an online pre-selection process capable of filtering out the less suitable candidates before the first sift of applications. This incorporated the following entirely bespoke features:

  • Application form with scored elements and open-ended questions for discussion during interviews
  • Personality questionnaire
  • Cognitive test simulating the demands of the role

Scored work experience and education section Online sifting interface that used a traffic light system

This combination was web-enabled by ASDA’s IT team in America



As their competitors introduced online assessment, ASDA increased the gap with this next phase that added:

  • The ability to tailor assessments and sifting to suit different roles
  • A bespoke candidate management system (built and hosted externally by Criterion) A more seamless candidate experience
  • Greater integration with back office systems

For this phase ASDA moved away from their American developers and Criterion’s developers took over the development using Microsoft.net technology.



This most recent phase incorporates:

  • A seamless candidate experience from browsing the job site to submitting an application SMS messaging
  • User-generated Web 2.0 features
  • Greater role-by-role flexibility

An online application process for George roles linked to a George careers site for the first time
Job alerts to ensure that when an opportunity arises the candidate doesn’t miss it!

The Results

The new system succeeded in reducing the cost-per-hire by 88% delivering an annual saving of approximately £2.64 million (averaged over 5 years).

Other key improvements included:

  • 65% reduction in the workload associated with management and graduate recruitment, delivering an annual saving of around £30,000.
  • £60,000 reduction in the need for press advertising.
  • 70% reduction in the number of candidates put through costly assessment centres.
  • New starters with improved cultural fit were more likely to be motivated, happy and productive.
  • The faster recruitment process reduced the likelihood of candidates accepting fewer competing offers.
  • From a starting point of 10 candidates reaching the interview stage per vacancy, the innovation reduced this figure by 70% to 3 to 4 candidates.
  • Reduced the end-to- end recruitment process by 84% to an average of just 5 days.
  • The recruitment resourcing required was reduced by approximately 65%.
  • The improvement in applicant calibre was demonstrated by a 30% increase in the success of the recruitment process.
  • A survey of internal managers regularly used for interviewing highlighted that candidate quality had significantly improved since online sifting was implemented.

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