Q&A: Amanda Davies, HR director, Mars Chocolate UK

Mars Chocolate UK’s HR director Amanda Davies tells Marketing Week what it takes to succeed in the brand’s graduate recruitment process.

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Amanda Davies, HR director, Mars Chocolate UK

Marketing Week (MW): What do you look for in terms of talent when recruiting graduates?

Amanda Davies (AD): For our Mars Management Development Programme we are looking for graduates with a broad range of degrees. However, on top of their educational qualifications, we look for people who have broader experience through some of the things they have done through university or work experience.

We look for three things in our recruits. We consider whether someone could be a team player and be excellent in building one-to-one relationships; energy, enthusiasm and a drive for results; and someone who is adaptable, can take risks and is flexible.

This business is about what you deliver and how you do it. Both are important, which is why we really look for not just the drive for results but that team player as well.

MW: When interviewing, how important is it to think about where the business is heading and how graduates will drive those needs?

AD: When we are recruiting people, especially in the latter stages when we do our final assessments, we will often have very senior managers involved because they will have a view on the business of today and the business of tomorrow.

But if we look at some of the characteristics that made our graduates successful 10 years ago and the ones that are going to make them successful today, those three elements of being a great team player, having energy and drive for results, and flexibility and agility probably haven’t changed significantly.

MW: How are the graduates retained and attracted to stay with you?

AD: From the moment you walk through the door as a graduate you are a Mars associate. What makes our programme successful is that we give them real responsibilities and real roles. Great line managers, which means graduates get great development, and good roles is probably what keeps them at Mars after three years.

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Mars UK is increasing the number of graduate places to applicants with business studies degrees

MW: Do you think attracting and retaining talent is a concern in business?

AD: Attracting talent is something that businesses need to work hard at. You can’t sit on your laurels and expect great talent to walk through your door. You have got to make sure you are working hard on your employer branding and finding the relevant points to connect to future talent.

MW: Is it important to go beyond the traditional interview process to find the talent you are looking for?

AD: I think the harder you work at recruitment the better chance you will have of finding a fit for both sides and an associate that will really succeed in your business.

If you look at the approach we take with graduates, we do invest in a rigorous selection process. We attract those candidates who want to come and apply in the first place, followed by a first round with online screening, then we do a face-to-face interview and an assessment centre facilitated by HR and senior managers.

If you do a quick job at selection, that is a higher risk process than doing a rigorous assessment.

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