While we’re all adapting to video conferencing within our teams and with external contacts, bringing someone into the business can feel different – as though it needs the personal touch, to measure the firmness of the handshake and pick up on a whole range of non-verbal cues. Yet when handled correctly it is possible to manage an interview process without meeting the candidates, even reading body language on screen without that hands-on sense of getting to know them.

“Overall demand for recruitment throughout the pandemic has reduced,” says Lynn Walters of recruitment specialists Pure. “But for some companies, recruitment is a top priority and they have adopted remote interviewing rapidly and successfully.”

The Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge had ambitious plans for expanding its hospice-at-home programme before the pandemic struck – and they haven’t been derailed. “During lockdown we’ve offered 15 to 20 positions to people,” explains chief executive Sharon Allen. “We still have to do all the background checks in the usual way, but we were able to interview digitally.”

Faster recruitment

The shift to remote working makes it easy to arrange interviews, with Zoom or Teams meetings slotted discreetly into a diary – there’s no need for candidates to apply for a day off to travel to an interview in a week or two’s time. This makes the whole recruitment process much faster and more efficient.

“If we’d been doing things the old way, we’d probably still be trying to arrange half the interviews,” concludes Sharon Allen.

That’s not the only benefit of doing interviews this way. “With so many meetings now taking place on video conferencing technology, the ability to communicate effectively on these platforms is now an essential skill for many professionals,” Lynn points out. “A video interview is not only convenient, but also a good predictor of how a candidate will perform in their role.”

However, even if it is becoming more virtual, it’s still vitally important that potential employees get a proper feel for the business. Pure recommends providing a recruitment video. “It’s a great way to provide candidates with a glimpse inside the company culture,” explains Lynn. “It helps get them excited about coming to work with you.”

Induction by video

Selection is just the start of a new employee’s journey with a business and the next stage is crucial. “New recruits have always received a ‘welcome’ goody bag on day one. These are now sent to them, along with all the kit they need to work from home,” says Toni Jones, recruitment manager at international nutritional-supplement giant Lifeplus, “And we make sure everyone receives a pre-start call before their first day.”

Lifeplus has been delivering its seven-day induction course by Zoom – including to two new starters based in Europe. “We start each day with a coffee and a chat so we can get to know each other,” explains induction trainer Lee Murray. He records the sessions, so new starters can watch them again in case they missed anything on the screen. People from across the business contribute to the inductions. “The key is that the new people feel connected to Lifeplus from day one,” says Lee.

Here to stay?

As good as remote interviewing can be, not every role can be filled this way.

“Companies have been reluctant to make senior management or board appointments without meeting the candidate in person,” says Lynn Walters of Pure. “However, they have successfully progressed recruitment for these roles to an advanced stage.”

Even with the need for a final, face-to-face stage, recruitment for senior roles is still possible. One Pure client managed to fill a £50-60,000 financial controller vacancy in seven working days – from presenting the role, to shortlisting candidates, to video interviews and then socially distanced in-person final interviews. The ease and efficiency of the process gave both candidate and business a much better experience.

This ability to develop the selection process rapidly – and to complete the hire for some roles far faster than with old face-to-face methods – means the video interview is likely to become an established part of the recruitment landscape, even after the pandemic has passed.

“However you recruit, remember that the candidate experience is paramount to a successful hire and a positive experience is good for your company’s brand and reputation,” she concludes.

For further information about how the Best Employers Easter Region can help your business through the coronavirus crisis - including information on the free-to-use employee engagement survey - click here.

For further information about Pure, including resources to support rectruiting while working remotely, click here.