Reducing reoffending and changing lives for MTCnovo

New selection process impacts the justice sector


MTCnovo is an organisation of third, public and private sector partners. Their aim is simple – to reduce reoffending in the United Kingdom by harnessing the skills of probation staff and delivering modern methods of rehabilitation which are rooted in the traditional values of the UK probation service.

We’ve seen better quality candidates who are motivated and know what to expect in role as a result of the new process.

Adam Reeves, Head of Talent Acquisition, MTCnovo


In 2018, we partnered with MTCnovo to redesign the initial sifting and selection of Custodial Care Officers at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, a prison for young offenders. Officers supervise, support and guide these young offenders who can be confrontational and unpredictable. The reality is that the young offenders have committed very serious and dangerous crimes and have a range of complex issues. MTCnovo was challenged by 30% no show rates at their assessment centres and 50% turnover within 6 months in the role. Our objective was to improve results by providing candidates with an excellent experience, and better manage expectations about the realities of the role to select only motivated and capable officers to the final stage of the recruitment process.


Our solution included a refresh to the application form, the introduction of an image-based Situational Judgement Test (SJT) and a Telephone Coaching Interview. Our approach was to first understand ‘what a good officer looks like’ in terms of personal qualities and behaviours. We interviewed a variety of job holders, subject matter experts and strategic people at MTCnovo. This also helped broadened our understanding of challenges in the prison and young people pose. Our findings enabled us to build a new assessment framework and design the following assessments:

  • Refreshed application questions, which fully inform candidates about key aspects of the role from the outset and sift out those who do not meet the essential criteria.
  • A Situational Judgement Test which included real life scenarios that officers face. We gave a realistic insight into the role, whilst also sharing positive stories of how rehabilitating young people can be very rewarding. This stage automatically deselected candidates saving MTCnovo time in the assessment process.
  • A Telephone Coaching Interview designed to continue the realistic job preview while assessing candidates on key competencies, so only the best and most engaged candidates progressed to the final stage.


The process was deployed on 1st August 2018 and MTCnovo has said that candidates progressing to assessment centres are higher quality, better informed about the role and motivated to be there. Also, there has been a reduction in time spent sifting candidates impacting time-to-hire, and attendance at assessment centres has increased significantly thanks to the improvements we’ve made.

It means that today assessment is more authentic and more likely to improve role retention in the future.  MTCnovo serves a very important role in our community and we’re delighted to continue our partnership by working on the development of a new solution for the recruitment of  Probation Service Officers who support offenders in the community.

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