Have we got Chemistry?

At Chemistry a phrase you will often hear is: ‘We drink our own champagne.” This doesn’t mean that we like to crack open champagne in the office on a Tuesday afternoon, instead it’s something that runs through the core of everyday working practice at Chemistry. Here we listen to the advice we give our clients and make sure we put it to use so that we constantly push ourselves as individuals and as an organisation.

What this means is that as a new starter you get put through all the online tools that Chemistry use to help other organisations recruit the right people. As a shiny new intern, I have therefore had first-hand experience of what it’s actually like to go through the tools as an applicant, and have reaped the benefits of the experience and feedback since then.

I found out about the role from a graduate job site that Chemistry advertised on. Once you click on the ‘Apply’ link you’re taken straight to the application, unlike other companies where you’d be taken to their careers website. Rather than a long form that you had to fill out that asked lots of repeated and seemingly pointless information, you were taken straight to a mini-quiz. I found this far more engaging and it immediately sparked my interest.

I know now that these are Chemistry’s Culture Fit Tool (CFT) and Role Fit Assessment (RFA). They are designed to assess whether your values, motivations and behaviours align with those of the company. These are such important tools as they essentially show if you’re a good fit with the company. For example, another well-known phrase here is that joining Chemistry is like ‘jumping aboard a speeding train’. These tool can help identify whether you prefer working at pace and cope well under pressure, all essential at Chemistry. This just means that if an applicant passes they are more likely to fit in and be Brilliant in that role. This mini-quiz immediately gives you more insight into what the role may involve. It was also very different to classic ‘out of the box’ tests that you may see at a bigger corporate business (I spent hours filling these out in my job search!).

The questions were unique to what happens at Chemistry and there were customised pictures that made it stand out. It has also meant that since joining Chemistry, having been given a taste of it through the test, it’s been easier to get along with people and generally ‘fit in’. Although everyone has different ways of working and building relationships, it means that fundamentally we all have a pretty similar set of values and motivations – ones that are part of a core theme running through the business.

The next stage was to fill out a motivational styles questionnaire and a values questionnaire. These build on the CFT and RFA tools to assess your motivations and values in more depth. At the time of filling them out I remember thinking two things. Firstly, by god were they long. And secondly, my results probably make me look crazy! The way the questionnaire works mean you have to prioritise activities or feelings that you may not normally do or have in day-to-day life. This means that statements like ‘I feel stressed all the time’ and ‘Things never work out the way I want them to’, may have to be weighed up against each other to pick which one you think suits you best, not always the easiest task.

Although these questionnaires seemed long at the time, since starting at Chemistry I have seen how effective they are in creating a language to discuss working styles; how people show up and how people create relationships. For example, when you are working with someone closely, a colleague who has been at the business longer may turn around to you and offer up some advice that goes something along the lines of this: “X is high fellowship so really values creating relationships and being around people (most people at Chemistry are like this!!), but they are very low emotion which means that they might not be able read your emotions if you are upset. If you’re in a high pressure situation though then they are the person you need as they will stay calm, relaxed and rational.”

These descriptions are talking about values and motivations and help you understand why a person may act the way they do. It assists you in understanding your colleague at a deeper level and shows you why they may behave in a certain way in a certain situation. As you can imagine this information is so useful when you’re starting off in a new job, especially if it’s your first one!

The final sets of online quizzes that we got sent were to test our intellect in the form of numerical and verbal reasoning. These seemed quite challenging at the time but it is important to get a benchmark for intellect. Unlike what you’re taught at school, Chemistry describes intellect as “the speed and accuracy at which you take in, process and retain information’. This means that you don’t have to be ‘book smart’ to have high intellect! Everyone is super brainy here though, so who knows if there was some sort of deeper level of test in there that went straight over my head!

Once all of these tests are aligned and you fit into Chemistry’s intern-shaped hole, you are asked in for an interview. In true Chemistry style this is not a competency-based interview, as they believe experience is not a predictor of future potential. Instead, as far as I could tell anyway, it was an informal chat to once again assess your fit and make sure you are who you say you are.

So there we have it, a short but sweet description of my first-hand experience of using the recruitment tools! And at Chemistry believe it or not there is more! After joining we complete a Behavioural Event Interview that looks at what behaviours we will display at work, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Overall, I think the thing that has stood out for me, having used the tools, is the difference they can make if they are truly embedded in the culture and day-to-day workings of an organisation. I think for many organisations it’s easy to get applicants to fill in these tests in order to help narrow it down to candidates that show the highest potential for that role, like Chemistry. But unlike Chemistry many organisations just leave the results at that point and never use them to the benefit. This is a shame because the information on your intellect, values, motivations and behaviours provides Chemistry with valuable insight on you and your colleagues to make it easier to work there from the very first day. Although at the time, filling in the online tests may seem like a lot of effort, the benefits hugely outweigh this effort and prepare you to enjoy the challenge and opportunity that comes with being an intern at Chemistry.

May, 20, 2015