Virgin Atlantic Case Study

Creating an Award-Winning Candidate Experience for Virgin Atlantic

A plane flying on a cloudy day

The Background

Virgin Atlantic is a long-haul carrier, flying from the UK to the US, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Recognised as a leading airline for innovation and customer service at the forefront of transformation, Virgin Atlantic have worked with Amberjack since 2021 to assist with the cabin crew recruitment process and support with managing candidates.

Virgin Atlantic firmly believe that anyone can take on the world, and as an equal opportunity employer, they’re committed to becoming a more diverse workplace. Applicants from all backgrounds, no matter age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion or beliefs are welcomed and encouraged in the workforce.

Our Objective

The Covid-19 Pandemic was catastrophic for the airline industry, flying demand fell by 98%, but as the industry started to recover both existing employees and potential new candidates needed to be re-engaged, recruited, and retained.

Virgin Atlantic joined forces with Amberjack to support with the online assessment redesign and launch, as well as to help provide support and progress candidates through the process.

At the same time as achieving these goals, Virgin Atlantic wanted to ensure that individuality was prioritised, challenging the status quo as the travel industry entered an exciting new phase.

Whilst we didn’t limit the team by having strict targets, we set very clear objectives from the outset and ensured that we delivered against these: 

  • To create an engaging and immersive candidate experience
  • To challenge the perceptions of stereotypical Virgin Atlantic Crew
  • To breakdown and remove barriers to improve inclusivity and accessibility
  • To provide candidates with realistic insights into life at Virgin Atlantic
  • To focus on hiring more candidates who are ethnically diverse, all associated male genders, and those over 25
Man having looking at his phone

Our Solution

To begin, Amberjack worked with Virgin Atlantic to review every stage in detail, and ensure that we removed any unnecessary barriers. This included putting ourselves in the shoes of the candidate and thinking carefully about the changes we could make to enable better representation, provide more realistic job previews and make our potential employees feel comfortable.

We seconded two flight service managers into the resourcing team full time. Using their combined 54 years of professional experience to help the team understand the role and its requirements, this was also critical in landing the new assessment process with key stakeholders. 

The new process was designed specifically to recruit Cabin Crew staff in the UK, with the vision to create an assessment experience that widened accessibility to our industry and focused on identifying an individual’s mindset and potential rather than their experience.  

It was also critical to ensure that every candidate had the very best possible experience and chance to succeed. This was achieved through: 

All unnecessary questions from the application form were removed and captured only personal and regulatory information that is required for flying, significantly reducing the barriers of entry for candidates.

Only the people that did not meet the regulatory requirements (e.g. can you swim?) were rejected. All other applicants were progressed onto our immersive blended assessment.

This stage of the process was an opportunity to bring the brand to life and delve into some of the real-life scenarios the crew face when working on-board our aircraft. Delivered through engaging narrative and using video-based content, this focuses on identifying individuals that have the potential to succeed through a series of situational and behavioural style questions testing mindset NOT experience.

The online assessment also included a video interview which significantly reduced the time that candidates needed to dedicate to completing their application and improved time-to-hire. All candidates that completed the assessment, regardless of their outcome were provided with a detailed feedback report which gave them insight into how they had performed and what they might want to consider for future applications and interviews.

The final stage of the process was our face-to-face assessment centre. This stage provided the opportunity to genuinely stand out from competitors. Starting the day with an icebreaker to set expectations and encourage attendees to take selfies in the now infamous “big red shoe” to celebrate their differences. Then the ED&I networks from across the company join to share stories and insight, demonstrating diversity. The hero personas of the campaigns were invited to join and show they were real and not actors. This had a huge impact and highlighted the significance of using our staff to change perceptions and inspire others.  

This stage included a ‘speed dating’ activity. Each candidate had a 2-minute interview with a range of assessors. This meant that even if they found one question challenging, they had the opportunity to re-build for the next interview. Additionally, through our diverse pool of assessors, it was ensured that each assessor could only be responsible for less than 25% of each candidate’s overall score, therefore reducing possibilities for bias. 


The Impact

The campaign was delivered from start to finish in 12 weeks. The results have been remarkable, exceeding expectations. By allowing each candidate to genuinely be themselves, Amberjack and Virgin Atlantic created a supportive, open environment. Many of the candidates disclosed information during the process, including mental health challenges and disabilities, that previously they felt unable to share.

In addition to the positive impact, we also achieved the following outstanding results:  

4,921 applications received

Made offers to 516 crew within 12 weeks

37.88% offers made to candidate over 25

26.75% offers made to male candidates

Achieved NPS of +75 (against industry average of +24

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