Tayburn throws graduates into the Deep End with ‘the industry’s toughest placement test’

Edinburgh-based consultancy Tayburn is trying an innovative approach to finding graduates for its placement programme, throwing candidates into its Deep End scheme.

Can you sell the unsellable?
Can you sell the unsellable?

DeepEnd’s beautiful application form has been designed by Tayburn as a website, newspaper and downloadable PDF from www.tayburn.co.uk/deepend.

Deep End cover
Deep End cover

However, the tests laid out on the form are far from simple. While the application form promises that ‘we’re only after your ideas, so scribble, sketch and write in any available space’, the tasks are cheeky, strange and very, very tricky.

Applicants must, for instance, mark on a figure’s outline where they have ‘tattoos, piercings, scars, mutilations and missing bits’ to prove how ‘badass’ they deem themselves. They must also draw themselves without showing their face.

And that’s the easy bit. Applicants must then answer what Tayburn terms its ‘hardest’ briefs – and they’re not fibbing.

Can you cut to the chaff?
Can you cut to the chaff?

These include telling Margaret Thatcher’s whole life story on one stamp, repositioning a theme park to appeal to the over 60s, and creating just one Tweet to put a positive spin on a forty million gallon oil slick.

Can you wage war with words?
Can you wage war with words?

The idea behind the tasks is to find candidates with abilities in branding – something Tayburn says is the most common gap in applicants’ strengths.

‘Most creative courses occupy a grey area somewhere in-between academia and vocational training’, says the consultancy.

‘The main issue with this is that the science of human behaviour – how people think, how they interact with brands and why they respond to them – is neatly avoided. And when you look through student portfolios, it shows.’

Those selected through the Deep End programme will be given a two-month paid employment solving real-life branding problems, working on real projects alongside planners, project managers and directors.

Deep End challenges
Deep End challenges

Edinburgh Napier business studies student Beybun Kilic is currently at Tayburn, coming to the end of a year-long placement focusing on digital marketing and content creation. Her application process was along a more traditional CV, presentation, interview route, though she’s had a go at the Deep End challenges and reckons that ‘if you can do it, you’re right for the job’.

‘It was really fun’, she says. ‘It tests your ability to create something from scratch, and the challenges are like those expected of you in the business world.

‘Typical numerical and verbal reasoning tests don’t really test your ability – [Deep End] does what it says on the tin’.

Black Wolf Brewery
Black Wolf Brewery

Kilic has been busy working on a complete brand overhaul of Black Wolf Brewery (formerly TSA – Traditional Scottish Ales), helping with client liaising, developing tone of voice through to generating the content.

Claire MacDonald – also an Edinburgh Napier business studies student – started her placement this week, which she won through the testing phase of the Deep End scheme. Her tasks included creating a blog post promoting Crimea as a good holiday destination and creating a Facebook page to promote Kanye West’s baking company.

She says, ‘It’s more inviting [than the usual CV application process]. They want to push for people that are different, a bit more creative and think outside the box’.

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