BNZ saves money, cuts recruitment time

The Bank of New Zealand moved to an online system last October called, and already claims it is ahead of target in saving 20% in recruitment costs by its third year of operation.

The Bank of New Zealand moved to an online system last October called, and already claims it is ahead of target in saving 20% in recruitment costs by its third year of operation.

Previously, the bank used recruitment agencies, newspaper advertisements and word-of-mouth to fill vacancies but found the process too slow, cumbersome and expensive.

BNZ culture and people manager Alison Fisher says it took six week to fill a role before, but now a job offer can be made within 16 days. The company is also on target to be shortlisting people for interview within three days.

Under the old system, a job would often go to the agency, who would place an ad in a newspaper. The job seeker would contact the agency, who would then draw-up a shortlist of three people for the bank departmental manager to interview. If word of mouth was used, the manager would collect CVs and call the applicants in.

But this dependency on agencies was too costly, Fisher says, and the bank wanted to gain “full control” of the recruitment process.

And despite the use of agencies, the bank would still receive 100 CVs a week, which would have to be replied to and stored in filing cabinets for a period.

Cost-reduction was a driving force behind a new system, along with speed-to-market, and the bank wanting its recruitment process to be as technologically advanced as its front-end customer services., a Texas-made system sold in New Zealand by Haines Advertising, is a global product used by BNZ's National Bank of Australia parent and other sister banks worldwide.

Fisher says this system allows the bank to leverage applicants from Australia, the UK and Europe as it is used in its other banks. It fitted the bank’s aim in coping with the growing competition for talent; and added to the bank's website helped "brand" the bank as a technology-focused company.

Jobs are still advertised in newspapers, as well as on employment websites. On the BNZ site people can search for the job they want to apply for and are asked eight initial questions, looking at skills, experience and where candidates want to work.

“If it’s an IT role, for example, they might be asked about LAN experience," Fisher says. "There are competency questions and behavioural questions."

If an applicants exceeds an 80% “pass rate” they get an email saying a manager will be in touch about an interview and the appropriate manager will also be emailed. If the applicants comes near the passmark, they will be told they have been placed in the “talent pool” and will be contacted when an appropriate vacancy comes up. Only if someone makes a total blunder, by applying for a job needing a driving licence when they do not have one, will they be rejected straight away.

The manager who received the successful applicants in his or her inbox will look at their details and attached CVs and draw up a shortlist for interview -- a process that can now take just 72 hours. And job offers can now made within 16 days of the job first being advertised.

Fisher says since the October launch, the new system has operated well. The bank is finding some jobs are more suited to this system than others, such as IT-related jobs, while other jobs, say more finance-focused, may be more suited to traditional executive search methods.

But the system is easy to use, with job ads loaded simply on to standard templates, and a decision made between the bank’s recruitment co-ordinators and the manager as to the most appropriate method of recruitment.

The cost savings have been ‘significant”, says Fisher, with the bank well ahead of its target of making 20% savings within three years.

“We are also amazed as to how the talent pool has grown so rapidly -- to 7000 candidates. People are looking at our site without us advertising. It is a far more effective way for us to manage applicants and we have refocussed the work of our HR staff,” she says.

But with these huge numbers, it is “a key challenge” for the bank to handle and respond appropriately to all these applicants, replying to them when you say you will and ensuring good customer service, Fisher says.

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