Oakwrights | Thomas.co


Case Study

How oak specialists Oakwrights validated hiring decisions and resourced for growth in a tight labour market

Oakwrights hero


United Kingdom
Behaviour (PPA)
Personality (HPTI)
Aptitude (GIA)
Emotional Intelligence (TEIQue)

The assessments help us with forward planning.

Michael Connolly
HR Director

The Challenge

Like much of the construction industry, oak specialists Oakwrights are undergoing a period of growth following the pandemic. However, the labour shortage has increased pressure on recruitment processes. 
The business needed a way to validate its recruitment and development decisions in a tight labour market, in order to meet demand and support the business’ upward trajectory.

HR Director Michael Connolly says, “That summer of 2020 when so many people were furloughed or losing their jobs, our recruitment drives received a phenomenal number of applicants. Which is quite the reverse of 2022 when there are minimal applicants and lots of jobs about.”

Oakwrights challenge

The Solution

With over a decade of using Thomas assessments, Oakwrights has built its team using recruitment processes informed by psychometrics. Michael explains, “What we wanted to do and what we've done successfully for almost ten years, is use the Behaviour, the General Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence assessments for recruitment purposes”.

But the assessments really came into their own during the unprecedented conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Last year, when recruitment went a little bit haywire, we used the assessments a great deal. They have been a great deal of help” enthuses Michael.

Conducting the first round of interviews via Zoom, Oakwrights introduces psychometrics prior to the second interview. Candidates for office and part office-based roles will typically be assessed. “We might interview a dozen people, and then we’ll cut it down to five or six and use the Thomas assessments to help us make those further decisions”, explains Michael.

“It helps us make those decisions. You've got the person in front here you can tell what sort of approach, attitude they have, but it just offers you that little bit further insight into not only how they might fit into a team but also how they might cope with certain situations in the workplace.”

Emerging from the pandemic into an acute labour shortage, psychometrics have helped Oakwrights to continue to resource to meet demand. “The assessments help us with forward planning” says Michael.

“This year the focus on recruitment has increased and we are at the stage where we've got less people and employees than jobs. We are using Thomas more to assess the people we already have in our teams to see where they can progress.”

Due to the tight labour market, Oakwrights has successfully pivoted, using the assessments to scope out development pathways among its existing employees. “We use the General Intelligence and Behaviour assessments to ascertain whether employees who may not have been assessed have growth potential within the area that they are working. Our company is broken up into office workers, workshop workers and site workers so three very different types of recruitment. That said, a lot of people can and do move in those departments.”

Oakwrights results

The Results

Despite a global labour shortage, Oakwrights continues to grow. In a recruitment market in which Hiring Managers under pressure to shorten recruitment processes in desperate attempt to get new talent in, Oakwrights is opening up new hiring opportunities using psychometric assessments. Not only this, but the risk of churn among new hires is lower due to robust candidate evaluation.

Michael explains: “The assessments help us because they generate questions. You can adapt these based on what you already know of the candidate. This helps us have a useful conversation.” The last two candidates that Oakwrights successfully recruited were a project manager and an estimator. The project manager had applied for a role at Oakwrights academy earlier in the year. “If anything, he was a bit overqualified and older than the usual group of people who apply” says Michael. “He decided it wasn’t for him. Another opportunity cropped up and we had him in mind as a training project manager. The Thomas assessment that he’d done helped us to pull him in that direction.”

Michael gives another example: “We did the same for an estimating role recently. A young lady had applied for a role last autumn and didn’t quite make it, but she got through to the second round. We could see from the Thomas assessment that she was a strong candidate, just not for that role. Another opportunity came up, and we were already advanced in the recruitment process. The assessments help us with forward planning.”  

Asked why Oakwrights continues to use assessments in a time-pressured recruiting environment, Michael says: “When we see a strong candidate, assessments often reassure us. Where we see a candidate that we are unsure of, the questions provided by the assessment allow us to dig that little bit deeper in the areas where we might have reservations. It gives you that further insight and it’s an addition to our recruitment ‘armoury’. For more senior roles it also adds a certain amount of credibility to the recruitment process.” Psychometric assessments continue to help Oakwrights remain competitive and grow in this uniquely challenging recruitment market.

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