The client, a top-five U.S. public transit agency, recognized the opportunity to modernize recruiting processes in attracting top candidates and reducing candidate attrition. North Highland helped the client develop a recruiting framework, ensuring the agency can satisfy the needs of its future workforce—so that this workforce can meet the needs of the public at large.
A Public Sector Case Study
The client, a top-five U.S. public transit agency, identified significant issues in its recruiting process. After conducting an internal review of its preemployment testing function, the organization uncovered two major problem areas.
First, time-to-hire, the period of time from application submission to receiving an offer letter, took over six months. Lack of automation, outdated technologies, and manual ways of working—including requirements for wet signatures and meetings among multiple stakeholders— burdened this process. Testing was the second core problem area. Candidate screening took place in an insecure environment, where tests were administered via pen and paper during rigid testing hours. Testing processes— including scoring, entry of test results into an internal repository, and test scheduling—were manual. There had also been fundamental misalignment between content found in preemployment screening and the day-to-day duties of the job.
By leveraging a network of contacts at other top U.S. transit agencies, North Highland conducted robust benchmarking and best-practice research to develop solutions to the client’s problems. In addressing the time-to-hire challenge, North Highland first tackled a key bottleneck in the hiring timeline: the background check process. The project team focused on reordering background check activities and bringing the criminal check in-house for certain candidates. In addition, North Highland designed a modernized and digital workflow, allowing activities— including numerous sign-offs—to happen quickly and efficiently. This workflow also provided greater visibility to hiring process bottlenecks.
To optimize the testing function, North Highland first focused on test content. The project team partnered with a leading adult continuing educational institution to rewrite tests in ensuring that content aligned with the day-to-day tasks, skills, and responsibilities of the position. Moving into the testing process, North Highland helped to implement computer-based testing. Delivering tests digitally to candidates via computer provided increased test security, as questions and answer choices were randomized and scoring was completed automatically. The North Highland project team also focused on test scheduling and logistics by implementing scheduling software. This software allowed candidates to schedule their own tests online, eliminating the additional step of coordinating with test center staff to arrange testing time.
North Highland conducted robust benchmarking and best-practice research to develop solutions to the client’s problems.
The procedures and processes that North Highland helped to optimize continue to pay dividends to the client— financially, experientially, and ultimately in candidate quality and satisfaction. The client implemented North Highland’s recommended strategy and has, in turn, decreased time-to-hire significantly. In addition, this work helped to create leaner, more efficient testing processes, removing up to 40 hours per week of testing center staff activity and generating savings of $210,000 in annual staff costs. Automated, computer-based test administration and scoring has improved test security and data reliability.
On the candidate side, optimized, more seamless processes improved candidate quality and retention. Candidates now receive tests that align with the position’s day-to-day responsibilities and accurately reflect the nature of the job. In addition, self-scheduling tests via scheduling software has allowed greater convenience to candidates and helped in attracting and retaining quality future employees. Computer-based tests and candidate self-scheduling have also provided greater flexibility in testing hours, decreasing the no-show rate for tests from 50% to 30%. This improvement allows the client to accurately project the number of test takers, thereby decreasing the staff hours spent on pre-testing administrative activities and increasing the number of candidates who test.