Pre-screening – are professional spies showing us the way?

There is such a thing as a product that sells itself (think iPhone and Nutella) and in recruitment, maybe the best example of that is careers at the Australian Secret Intelligent Service (ASIS).
If you have not heard about the agency’s latest recruitment campaign, here’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on TV last week spruiking the recruitment drive.
It is hard to beat the pitch: “Come be a literal secret agent. Solve problems! Save lives! Serve your country! Get paid!” It’s easy to imagine the Internal Talent team at ASIS slapping headshots of Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt or Natasha Romanova over stock photos of people jumping across buildings, engaging in high speed car chases, infiltrating enemy lines and taking out the bad guys.
But in fact, it was nothing as dramatic (or at least at the start). All you needed to do is complete an interactive online test that they have developed challenging you to prove you’re worth a career in the intelligence industry. And whilst it is all fun and games for the people giving it a shot (it turns out I’m not super-spy material, by the way, it was probably my pasta selection that let me down), it also demonstrates great understanding of the public perception of the industry, its target market, and how to take advantage of both.
Put simply, ASIS’ online test is a great speed boost to their recruitment pipeline. Imagine if every candidate at your business cared enough about the role that they had already done some of your screening tests. ASIS knows people want to be secret agents, and want to prove they can be secret agents, so by putting out assessment materials (and making them so fun and accessible) they can filter out some candidates before the application process even begins.
Now, it is not like ASIS’ tool can let them completely skip the assessment step of the interview process – you can take the test multiple times after all, till you get it right. This is, primarily, a marketing effort to get more people interested in applying and generate media attention. It is a great proof-of-concept for how marketing and recruitment can intertwine to save time and effort. After all, even candidates who try the test multiple times to improve are demonstrating an attitude you would want to see in a candidate. And if someone is disheartened and does not want to apply anymore, that is probably best for everybody.
So what is the lesson here? It’s that, if your business is one that naturally sells itself to interested candidates, not just because it’s a good job but because it’s fun, interesting, exciting, or out-there, then you can make candidates funnel themselves through your pipeline before they even reach out to you.
That doesn’t describe every business – as absolutely vital as forensic accountants are, nobody is going to make a movie about them where they flip around and kick terrorists in their heads. But if you think your business has career opportunities that spark someone’s imagination, or have the potential to, then perhaps it might be worth making a strong case for ownership of more of the recruitment marketing budget for 2018.
Oh, and did anyone manage to convince that flight attendant to give you an aisle seat?
Cover image: Rotten Tomatoes


Talent Acquisition (TA) is on the cusp of a new wave of innovation and the 12th Australasian Talent Conference will be shining the light brightly on it – say hi to Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Find out more.

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