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John Lewis Partnership

calendarMay 10, 2023

Selecting Partners of the future at John Lewis Partnership

John Lewis Partnership is one the UK’s leading omni-channel retailers. Its employee-owned partnership structure sits at the heart of the business, giving every Partner a voice and a stake in the business they own. 

With 84,000 permanent Partners, 49 John Lewis stores, 352 Waitrose supermarkets and a thriving online and catalogue business, they are leading the way in providing customers with a multi-channel shopping experience.

The Objective
Partners of the future

In a fiercely competitive market, the John Lewis Partnership recognises that how and where we shop is changing. Technology continues to transform how consumers choose, purchase and receive goods, leading retailers to find new and innovative ways to enhance the in-store customer experience.

Quality of service has always been the hallmark of the John Lewis Partnership, but as customer needs change, the role of Partners is also evolving. Being successful means performing your own job well, but also being flexible and adaptable enough to step outside your role, and support other departments or teams when the need arises.

For several years, applicants to the John Lewis Partnership were screened using an online values questionnaire. However, the business felt that it no longer effectively identified the right applicants for the organisation. From the outset, the John Lewis Partnership was clear that they were looking for a screening questionnaire that measured the values and behaviours of Partners of the future in John Lewis and Waitrose. They also wanted a candidate-centric process, which engages applicants and gives them feedback. And with 400,000 applications received every year, the assessment solution needed to be robust, reliable and mobile-friendly.

Our Partners are responsible for delivering an outstanding customer experience in our John Lewis stores and Waitrose supermarkets, so it’s critical that we make the right decisions throughout the recruitment process. We also understand the importance of the candidate experience, so we’ve taken care to look after our applicants with the same commitment we give to our customers.

Laura Page, Resourcing Development Manager
John Lewis Partnership

The Solution
Immersive, personalised and mobile

To help the John Lewis Partnership achieve their goals, we designed the Partnership Selection Questionnaire (PSQ) to be completed by applicants as a first sift. The PSQ is an online, branching, scenario-based questionnaire, incorporating live action videos to bring the assessment to life. Recognising that many applicants now use mobile technology to complete their application, the candidate experience is fully accessible, fast and engaging.

To ensure the questionnaire was relevant to all roles in John Lewis and Waitrose, we conducted in-depth job analysis and developed a set of values-based scenarios, measuring six core Partnership Behaviours. The scenarios were then piloted to validate the final set of questions.

The PSQ is branching, whereby the choice you make for one question determines how the scenario evolves in subsequent questions. So, if you’re answering a question about a customer complaint for example, you can see the consequences of your decisions – just like the real world! This helps give applicants a more realistic, immersive experience.

The PSQ is also brought to life further with live action videos, shot in a variety of locations throughout the business, to reflect the diversity of roles available. Applicants are greeted at the beginning and end of the questionnaire, explaining what they need to do and next steps. This candidate-led approach ensures a friendly and professional insight into life at the John Lewis Partnership.

Finally, all applicants, whether they are successful or not, receive a personalised candidate report, providing feedback on the values and behaviours important for success at the John Lewis Partnership.

Throughout the project, the Sova project team have been professional, efficient and responsive. They applied their collective psychometric and digital expertise to understand what we needed and shape the right solution to meet our objectives. Personable and fun to work with, we are excited to have Sova as our assessment partner of the future

Heather Byass, Resourcing Development Manager,
John Lewis Partnership

The Result
Efficient, inclusive and engaging

Since the questionnaire went live in July 2017, the PSQ has screened over 50,000 applications; a number which is set to significantly increase as we approach seasonal recruitment for Christmas. Whilst it is still too early for an in-depth validation, many benefits are already emerging, including:

  • Significant time saving: through automated candidate reports, ensuring everyone receives timely and valuable feedback, removing the administrative burden from the resourcing team.
  • The use of video is supporting applicants with language-based learning difficulties such as dyslexia, as it helps them to understand the questionnaire better.
  • Accessibility: with initial analysis showing that one third of applicants are using mobile devices to complete their application. The PSQ is designed to deliver the very best user experience, irrespective of the device used.