Insights into in-house recruitment: Asda

Written by
Rachelle Harry

14 Mar 2016

14 Mar 2016 • by Rachelle Harry

Jonathan Readshaw is a graduate resourcing and development manager at Asda.

Please tell us about Asda.

Asda is part of Walmart, the largest retailer in the world. We are the second biggest supermarket in the UK with more than 600 stores, around 170,000 colleagues and annual sales figures in excess of £22 billion.

As a business, we recognise that our colleagues are vital to our success, and a commitment to saving our customers money is still central to what we do.

Our values – integrity, service, respect and excellence – sit at the heart our business. Our unique culture is built on these simple beliefs, which have been the cornerstone of our brand since we were founded 1965 when two Yorkshire businesses, Associated Dairies and Queens Supermarket, merged.

What does your role involve?

My role is about ensuring we are an attractive and inspiring graduate employer that is recruiting the very best talent, who we believe have the skills and potential to be successful future leaders at Asda.

In terms of the specifics within my role, it is incredibly varied. From working with our creative partner to develop our website and marketing material, to attending careers fairs and presenting to graduates and school leavers. My role also involves collaborating internally with our business leaders who play an active role in the assessment and development of our future graduates.

Part of my job is to ensure graduates joining Asda have a smooth transition into the business and their new roles. To do this, I engage with key internal stakeholders from our culture champions, mentoring groups, and line managers, through to the executive board – all of whom have a role in ensuring our new graduates acquire the knowledge, skills and the understanding of our culture to be successful members of the Asda team.

How many graduates do you recruit each year?

Since Asda’s graduate programme was launched in 1995, over 900 colleagues have benefited from its training and many now occupy senior positions in the business.

The number of people we welcome on to our graduate scheme can vary each year. For us it is very much about identifying graduates with exceptional credentials who we believe have the aptitude and desire to succeed at Asda.

How are you tapping into talent, while ensuring you're reaching out to all relevant genders, nationalities and age groups?

We use a combination of tools to attract and recruit graduates from a wide and diverse pool of talent. This includes on-campus activity, our graduate website, social media, and printed and online press. We also like our current graduates to engage with students directly at university careers fairs, presentations, and mock interviewing and assessment centres.

This year we’ve been working on our website, which was built to showcase our fun, collaborative culture and inspire graduate talent to apply for our schemes.

Whats your sorting process to select the best candidates for a shortlist?

To ensure we are hiring the most exceptional graduates, we have a structured recruitment process in place. This includes online tests, a telephone interview, a face to face interview and an assessment centre session. These will give graduates the opportunity to showcase their individual talents as well as their ability to work collaboratively with others.

How are you ensuring potential recruits know about Asda and its values?

We engage both directly with potential candidates and through other channels such as the media and our recruitment website to tell the Asda story and what we stand for.

At Asda we live and breathe our values every day and for us it is very important that aspiring graduates really research our business, spend time in our stores and keep up-to-date with latest market news trends.

How do you make Asda stand out to applicants, against competing businesses?

For me it is all about the fantastic culture we have at Asda. We have created an environment that is inclusive, where people are encouraged to have fun with work and be themselves. A great example is our quarterly ‘Big Brunch’ event which involves thousands of our colleagues congregating in our atrium at Asda House for a business update from our CEO, Andy Clarke. It is a celebration of great Asda colleague stories and finishes off with a live performance… We even had One Direction shortly after they appeared on the X Factor!

We like to invite our graduates to one of these events before they start in the September. It means they really feel a part of the culture before their first day on the graduate scheme.

The other key stand-out from a graduate perspective is the number of opportunities available at Asda and the speed which their careers can progress. One of the graduates from our most recent intake was promoted to a deputy store manager position within a few months of joining the programme. His story is inspirational and is a great example of what you can achieve at Asda if you have the right attitude and work ethic.  

If you have the right attitude and approach at Asda, you can go as far as you want.

What is the biggest challenge youve faced in your role and how did you over come it?

Every role has its challenges and in a fast-paced, ever changing retail market my role is no different. At Asda, the key is having the ability to be flexible and be open to change.

What do you think are the best and worst aspects of your role?

There are numerous things about my role that give me good satisfaction. I love seeing our graduates succeed and progress through the company – a welcome reward for their hard work and positive attitudes. It is also great to see the enthusiasm and excitement in our graduates when they arrive at Asda House for their first day. It is a pivotal step in their lives and a great opportunity, and to be able to share that moment with them is really special.

The best and worst part of my role is probably in one is the graduation. This is when graduates complete the scheme, which is absolutely a celebration but it often passes too quickly!