Capp case study

01 January 2017 | Focus | Thomas Peacock

Microsoft is the world’s largest technology organisation enabling people and businesses throughout the world to realise their full potential by creating technology that transforms the way people work, play and communicate.

The Challenge

In early 2013, Microsoft sought to pilot a strengths-based approach within their graduate and intern population. On the basis of the initial results of this pilot Microsoft adopted an end-to-end strengths-based approach for their 2014 apprentice programme. Capp worked in partnership with Microsoft to define the core and differential strengths that predicted high performance indicators in their apprentice, intern and graduate population.

Their main challenges were:

  • Providing assessors with a genuine insight into a candidates allignment to the Microsoft culture as well as the specific strengths to succeed in the role
  • To differentiate Microsoft from it’s competitors
  • To provide candidates with a realistic preview of the strengths that they would be expected to deliver in the role
  • To identify candidates with high potential and not be reliant on past work experience


Capp’s Approach

Through observing high performance at Microsoft and interviewing key stakeholders we identified core strengths that were critical indicators of success at Microsoft. The core strengths also mapped into the Microsoft global competency framework and principles. In addition to the core strengths, differential strengths were also indentified for intern roles such as technology, sales and marketing. Once the strengths were validated by the business we set about building a suite of emerging talent assessments for Microsoft.

These included:

  • Two online situational strengths tests (SST), one for apprentices and one for graduates and interns. The SST provides Microsoft candidates with a series of `day in the life` scenarios that assess a candidate’s strengths and potential to perform in the role
  • Strengths-based interviews that assessed potential rather than past experience. Microsoft & Capp partnered with LaunchPad Recruits to use asynchronous video interviews to assess candidates - this saved both time and money for Microsoft’s Recruitment Team


Great Business Outcomes

  • The quality of candidates at assessment centre exceeded expectations, with 78% of stakeholders saying that they found the approach easier to differentiate high performers
  • Candidates were successfully assessed on their potential to excel in the business rather than relying on examples of limited work experience
  • Despite 29% of graduate applicants being female, 54% were recruited into the business. This was a significant improvement compared to previous years
  • Microsoft has been able to drop it’s UCAS requirements since introducing strengths but this has not negatively impacted the quality of hire
  • More interns were recruited as graduates through the process than ever before


Assessor Perception Assessors responded positively to the strengths-based strategy and the assessment used:

  • 100% thought candidates were engaged in the day and exercises
  • 93% of assessors enjoyed the style of the assessment centre
  • 93% of assessors were thoroughly engaged in the day and exercises
  • 86% thought the format of the day was `excellent`


"Candidates appeared to be very engaged throughout the day and the range of exercises gave them the opportunity to perform and also have a great candidate experience with Microsoft.”

“One of the most insightful and useful hiring events I have been involved in. It was different, higher energy and overall gave me a much more rounded view of the candidates before making my decision.”


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