Recruiting a New Generation of Security Officers

Heathrow logo

Security Officers make up approximately 50% of the Heathrow Airport workforce.

The airport’s HR team were looking for a way to transform how they assess and select these officers, in line with their vision to give their millions of annual passengers the best airport service in the world.

illustration of an airplane, tickets and luggage

The Challenge

Every passenger passing through the airport will interact with at least one Security Officer so recruiting the right people is imperative.

Heathrow also recognized that applicants (both successful and unsuccessful) are likely to be passengers too and their custom and loyalty could be affected by the experience they have during the recruitment process.

The airport wanted to increase the quality of successful candidates, with a focus on customer service skills. They also wanted to engage them by showcasing the role, as well as streamline the assessment process to reduce time and cost.

They were also keen to recruit applicants from diverse backgrounds to ensure their workforce is representative of their customer base.

illustration of diverse group of people in the shape of a magnifying glass

The Solution

Saville Assessment worked in partnership with Heathrow to develop an immersive online assessment experience – one that provided candidates with a realistic preview of the role and insight into what a Security Officer does.

Heathrow SJT on a laptop and iPad

The new online assessment involved two separate elements:

A Situational Judgment Test (SJT) was used to present candidates with a series of scenarios they could face as Security Officers.

The behaviors which were being assessed in these scenarios were aligned to the Heathrow Airport competency framework, with particular importance placed on a strong customer focus.


The second element of the assessment was designed to measure an applicant’s ability to ‘check’ and identify differences between two images presented on the screen.

This element offered an early indication of whether the applicants had the required vigilance / observation skills and the mental agility to work with the scanning equipment.

The two elements were blended to form a unique and dynamic assessment experience which ensured the candidate journey started in a positive way.

Benefits To The Organization

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The quality of applicants reaching the latter stages of the assessment process increased, with a particularly high correlation between performance on the new assessment and subsequent measures of customer focus.

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The new assessment solution had significantly higher completion rates than the previous process. Candidate feedback was also overwhelmingly positive.

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Over 10,000 automated feedback reports were sent to applicants; significantly reducing the time and resources required to deal with feedback requests.

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A potential saving of approx £40,000 per cohort was idenitfied by removing the need to schedule almost 700 telephone interviews and over 100 assessment centre places.

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

A broad range of ages completed the assessment (aged between 16 and 65 years), as well as a wide range of different ethnicities, with no group differences found.

“I enjoyed taking this assessment as it seemed very realistic to the types of situations I look forward to dealing with.”

Heathrow Airport Candidate

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