Birmingham Hippodrome - delivering a values based hiring experience

CLARE RYDER • 07 May 2020

We are often asked by clients, ‘in your experience, what is the best way to assess candidates?’ In truth, the process of assessment varies so much depending on the client’s own requirements, the industry they are in, the roles they are recruiting for, how quickly they need to recruit, their culture and their values, that there isn’t a straight answer. We have, however, seen a real shift towards values-based recruitment with some outstanding results.

We worked with our client Birmingham Hippodrome to help them introduce a values-based hiring experience and they shared their feedback and results with us along the way.

Watch the HoW webinar back, where Giles talks us through the journey Birmingham Hippodrome have been on 👇

The background

Birmingham Hippodrome is the UK’s most popular single auditorium theatre and welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year. Employing over 450 people, they recruit a variety of roles from stage managers and makeup artists to volunteers and internships.

Birmingham Hippodrome Auditorium

Birmingham Hippodrome have very clear brand values:

1. Everyone’s welcome

2. Nothing but the best

3. Do it with flair

When they started to look at transforming their recruitment process, they had three key aims:

1. Transform the candidate experience

2. Set the stage for hiring managers

3. Place the spotlight on insight with meaningful reporting


The process before transformation

Before they started on the journey of implementing talent acquisition technology and transforming the recruitment experience, Birmingham Hippodrome did some key research with both candidates and Hiring Managers. The findings reconfirmed the need to implement an ATS to support and enhance their processes.

Poor candidate experience

They found that candidate application forms didn’t always come through to the recruitment team meaning that key talent could be lost, even at application stage; candidates didn’t receive an auto-acknowledgement email and if their application was received, they were told ‘if you haven’t heard back in 20 days, consider yourself unsuccessful’.

Frustrating experience for Hiring Managers

From a Hiring Manager perspective, similar frustrations were found. The job approval process would take weeks to be approved and all applications were forwarded or printed for Hiring Managers causing real concerns around GDPR. In addition, there was just one application form for all roles and that form was incredibly long, resulting in a high drop-off rate of applications.

Shortlisting problems

Shortlisting was really time consuming - on average, 100 applications took 8 hours to filter through. For those candidates who were successful, their offers and contracts were extensive packs of information that had to be printed and posted resulting in huge printing and postage costs. No further contact and engagement was had with candidates prior to them joining the organisation, with new starter packs only being returned by candidates on their first day

Making the change

Birmingham Hippodrome wanted to “Deliver a customer focused recruitment experience that matches the same world class experience when they come to the theatre”. Their main goals initially were:

  1. Improve communications

  2. Reduce time to apply

  3. Increase the relevance of application forms

  4. Screen candidates by asking the right questions at the right time

  5. Reduce unconscious bias and deliver a diverse and inclusive process

  6. Deliver a winning candidate and onboarding experience

It was vital that the new recruitment journey worked for all stakeholders, not just the recruitment team but for candidates and Hiring Managers too.

Birmingham Hippodrome staff

Key changes to the candidate experience

From a candidate perspective, key changes included providing a candidate portal that displayed clear information about the organisation and the roles they were recruiting for, ensuring all information was accessible via a mobile device, candidates were kept updated at all stages during the recruitment process with personalised communications, the application form length was reduced so it could be completed in under 2 minutes (with the content made more relevant), and the provision of a full self-service for candidates through the application, interview and onboarding stages.

Improved experience and access for Hiring Managers

For Hiring Managers, they now have access to a tailored ATS portal with everything they need in one place. The portal is intuitive and includes online approvals, real time updates, video guides and importantly, support right when they needed it.

Anonymous shortlisting was introduced to eliminate unconscious bias and measures put in place to automate and streamline the assessment process. Panel shortlisting was introduced to ensure fair assessment and candidate packs are being used to deliver complete records ahead of interviews.

Birmingham Hippodrome staff

Engaged candidates from hire to start date

Birmingham Hippodrome also recognised the need to improve their onboarding process. When they were posting out offer packs to new starters, there was no further engagement with new hires before their first day. By introducing an online onboarding process, there is complete transparency for candidates, recruitment and hiring managers, a significant reduction in printing and postage costs plus an engaging experience for candidates. Using Jobtrain’s new hire ‘Green Room’, Birmingham Hippodrome are now able to congratulate, welcome, engage and inform new hires and create a sense of belonging even before they start.


Birmingham Hippodrome asked the right questions at the right time to help recruit candidates with the right values, increased speed to apply and made the process easier and more engaging for candidates whilst reducing unconscious bias to recruit a more diverse group of talent into the organisation.


increase in number of applications



Double the number of new starters from an ethnic minority



reduction in applicants who directly ask for help


-15 days

reduction in time to hire



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