Using assessments to improve the customer experience and drive better business results


The need

McDonald’s UK recruitment team needed to enhance its selection process for new employees with customer centric strategy to attract and hire candidates with the right job fit.

The solution

McDonald’s selected IBM to create a series of assessment tests designed to pinpoint suitable candidates faster.

The benefit

  • Four months after the launch, the number of applicants for crew positions dropped 35 percent, while the number of managerial applicants dropped 50 percent, ensuring those who applied understood and wanted to work for the company.
  • The savings allowed McDonald’s to establish and support a centralized assessment schedule for management positions across the UK, leading to greater consistency of hiring practices.
  • The new assessment centers cut time to hire for management positions by 25 percent, and slashed the applicants to hire ratio by nearly 66 percent.

McDonald’s is one of the world’s leading family restaurant brands in the quick service sector. The company operates more than 1,200 restaurants across the United Kingdom, employing more than 97,000 people.

McDonald’s UK has seen growth in its business and in its workforce during the past few years. In order to sustain this growth, changes needed to be made in restaurant operations, supported by more “customer confident” employees and managers who would deliver a great customer experience.

To make these changes, McDonald’s needed to enhance its existing selection process for new employees with a rigorous and customer centric recruitment strategy with the goal of hiring candidates who were capable of meeting the rapidly evolving needs of the business.

The challenge: finding the right candidates faster

The in-house recruitment team plays an integral role in supporting McDonald’s restaurants in the UK. During this period of growth, the business had a record number of applicants, and the team was challenged to look for innovative ways to improve efficiencies and enhance the effectiveness of the recruitment processes.

Across the UK, McDonald’s received an average of 2,000 applicants each day for crew and customer care positions. However, only one of every 25 applicants was successful, meaning a high number of candidates were rejected at each stage of the process. The ratio was even bigger for trainee manager positions – only one of every 150 applicants were successful.

The recruitment team had to find an innovative way to reduce the time recruiters and managers spent on screening and assessing unsuitable candidates. At the same time, the team had to provide a positive candidate experience to each applicant, whether they were successful or not.

The solution: assessing candidates for fit

McDonald’s recruitment team selected IBM to come up with a way to solve this challenge. Together, they held 20 focus groups throughout 2013 with more than 150 top performing employees from around the UK. Feedback from the focus group revealed:

  • Many candidates did not have a comprehensive knowledge of the roles they were applying for.
  • Many candidates did not consider the impact of undertaking shift work, working in a customer-facing environment or the requirement to be able to follow procedures and work as part of a large team.

When a candidate’s experience matches their expectations of the job, they are more satisfied and less likely to leave on their own. When a company can reduce early turnover, it can see substantial employee replacement cost savings. Using certain assessments can encourage candidates not to proceed with the application if they feel that the requirements will not suit their preferred way of working, thus reducing the number of unsuitable candidates in the later stages of the application process.

As a result of what was discovered from the focus groups, consultants from IBM and McDonald’s recruitment team created the Realistic Job Preview (RJP) and Situational Judgment (SJT) & Dependability Test, and embedded them into McDonald’s Online Recruitment System.

These assessments were designed to provide the candidate with a clear understanding of the expectations, culture, values and attitudes required from people in the positions of crew/customer care. These assessments presented scenarios that candidates will face in the position of crew member and customer care assistant.

After completing the RJP, candidates get immediate feedback, letting them know how their responses fit with McDonald’s and the requirements of the position. If they proceed to the next step, they take the SJT, which assess the behaviors that have been defined as critical for the position. Candidates either pass or fail the SJT.

Solution components:

  • IBM Kenexa Behavioral Assessments for Hourly Roles on Cloud
  • IBM Kenexa Behavioral Assessments for Managerial Roles on Cloud

Candidates also take the Dependability Test, which is designed to assess natural levels of dependency, reliability and the likelihood to follow instructions. The results then generate an overall score which determines whether or not a candidate progresses to the next stage.

The results: saving time and resources while finding top talent

The RJP was launched in September 2013, and it was expected to provide a noticeable drop in the number of applications because more candidates would de-select themselves during the process. In addition, McDonald’s recruitment team expected the application to hire ratio would improve, allowing the team to use the time saved to focus on more suitable candidates. The SJT & Dependability tests were launched by January 2014, and the team anticipated that scores would eventually rise because the candidates would be a better fit and could provide a better customer experience.

It didn’t take long for McDonald’s recruitment team to see the benefits of its investment. Immediately, the number of candidates proceeding to the application stage dropped for both crew and management positions. Four months after the launch, the number of applicants for crew members dropped 35 percent, while management positions experienced a 50 percent cut.

As a result, the time saved by screening fewer management applications was significant, allowing the recruitment team to focus on the most suitable candidates and to set up and support a centralized assessment schedule for management positions across the UK. This centralized assessment center model allows for greater consistency of hiring practices and allows team members to support the “business need” to increase the management establishment numbers.

The assessment centers cut time to hire for management positions by more than 25 percent, and cut the application to hire ratio by nearly 66 percent.

For more information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2014

IBM Corporation
Software Group
Route 100 Somers,
NY 10589

Produced in the United States of America, October 2014.

IBM, the IBM logo and are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or TM), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. A current list of IBM trademarks is available at “Copyright and trademark information” at: The content in this document (including currency OR pricing references which exclude applicable taxes) is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data discussed herein is presented as derived under specific operating conditions. Actual results may vary. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NONINFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.