Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions, has implemented a transformative graduate recruitment process to help Ocado Group in the UK hire young people from more diverse backgrounds.

The process uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital assessment tools and has helped to save time for both candidates and hiring teams, reducing internal interviewing time by nearly 600 hours in the first year alone. The use of technology also increases Ocado Group’s competitiveness, by hiring candidates who are a better fit for meeting current and future business needs.

Ocado Group has made two core changes in its early careers hiring process. The first is a new selection process using Aon’s online assessments, which include a measure of candidates’ future-readiness, agility, curiosity and learnability, plus a gamified cognitive ability test to understand a person’s adaptability to change and working memory. Candidates who attain certain assessment scores are then invited to complete a recorded video interview using Aon’s Video Interviewing AI platform, which is bias-free. Up to this point, the process is automated, requiring no travel by the candidate or Ocado Group.

In addition, Ocado Group changed its screening requirements to consider all graduates. Before the new process, a candidate needed to have minimum of ABB results from an established university to be considered for a role.

In the first year of running the new process, Ocado Group not only assessed and hired over 70 high-calibre graduates from diverse backgrounds but also experienced a 300% growth in applicants and a 650% increase in video assessments. The new process also impacted the gender split, with Ocado hiring 53% female and 47% male candidates, a change from 36% female and 64% male hires in the previous year.

Henry Clendon, Emerging Talent Adviser at Ocado Group, said:

“Diversity is essential, not least because we’re growing and evolving from a retail to a technology business. Not many businesses are growing at the rate we are, and next year alone, we plan to recruit another 500 technology specialists at all levels.

“Looking at behavioural qualities instead of academic qualifications boosts our competitiveness. It enables us to find the right candidates who have fresh ideas and dynamism. It’s why our Emerging Talent Programme is highly supported in the business – it gives us an edge. We don’t just ask for Senior Software Engineers, we want graduates who can grow with us, building a long career. Our programme is amazing for candidates and in fact, one of our very first interns is now the CEO of our technology brand.”

Another of Ocado Group’s goals is ensuring candidates feel comfortable with the new technology. To support this, even though candidates do not meet an Ocado Group representative in the first two stages of the process, automated messaging is as personal as possible helping candidates to feel valued.

Henry Clendon added:

“We now know we can trust in technology and artificial intelligence for assessment. The new process saves so much time, fast-tracking elements and achieving things we did not think possible. Seeing it in action, and seeing the results, we know AI is a tool that does great things for us. It gets rid of bias that humans couldn’t. We’re also able to quality-check candidates, which is especially important considering the number of people applying. There can be nervousness about this in a business, but the feedback has been strong, with assessors saying we’ve seen good-quality candidates.”

Suzanne Courtney, European growth director, Aon’s Assessment Solutions, added:

“Helping Ocado Group transform their early careers recruitment process has resulted in 40% more candidates passing through the application stage this year. Importantly, those candidates went through an engaging and immersive experience. They’ve attracted and hired applicants from a far broader talent pool, who were assessed on the capabilities and competencies needed now and in the future.”

Aon’s Assessment Solutions, Aon’s talent assessment practice, provides clients with powerful tools and insights to help them make better talent decisions at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This includes pre-hire assessments, identifying future leaders, screening for digital skills and agility, and AI-enabled solutions. More information is available at