How to Recruit Remotely in a Socially Distant Landscape

It was the third week of March when the impact of the Coronavirus on work and the economy really hit home in the UK. Restrictions on movement have increased daily, reaching the point we’re at now—where the only people who should be going in to work are those delivering essential services.

How all of this will affect charities’ income isn’t something we can know yet, but what’s certain is that their work will be needed more than ever in the coming months.

Recruitment won’t stop either—just think about all the temporary and contract roles that’ll need to be turned around quickly to allow essential work to continue, including the recruitment of volunteers. And it’s also clear that the virus has sparked new demand for jobs in research, science and other associated specialisms within charities and educational institutions.

Huge take-up in the use of apps that allow business communication

To facilitate home working, most organisations are now using conferencing apps; in fact, the downloading of apps like WeChat Work, Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams grew globally five-fold in the first three months of this year. And it’ll only increase further now.

Such apps are naturally being used in recruitment, but when it comes to communicating directly with candidates, it’s worth thinking about what’s the most appropriate way of getting in touch first—and sticking to some rules about how to use video apps when speaking with candidates directly.

video call app remote recruitment

Should all interviews go virtual?

Not necessarily.

The current crisis does have some advantages for recruitment in that many people will be at home and have the time to discuss opportunities over the phone.

So, it can be worth booking in some calls—you can discuss the job less formally, gauge a candidate’s position and be open with them about how the hiring process may be affected by current events.

You may also think that some jobs aren’t suited to video interviews—because of the nature of the job and the candidates you want to attract. There are candidates who may not be able to access or afford the technology, or they may just not feel comfortable speaking on screen like this. Dependent on the job, it could be that a phone call is a more effective way of speaking to candidates.

telephone interview for charity

And bear in mind that there’s a view that video can work against older people

Video can be unflattering and make people seem older than they would in person. You (or whoever is doing the interview) may not intend to judge in this way, but it can be subliminal and work against a candidate—particularly in the absence of the other signals we pick up on when we meet someone in person.

We also can’t make the assumption that everyone is up to speed when it comes to video and conferencing technology. For some older candidates, this is a period of adjustment. So be patient and figure out the most comfortable way to speak to them without testing the limits of their digital prowess.

older candidates remote interview

Tips for video interviews

Still, in most cases, video interviews will be the best substitute for an actual interview in person and many candidates will be used to working like this.

Below are our top tips for conducting video interviews. You may find it helpful to consider these things before you go ahead and book them in so that you’re being fair to the candidate and are able to conduct them without a hitch.

1. Check and prepare the tech in good time

Make sure you’ve set the tech up and tested it before the time of the call or interview. It’s worth noting that with so many people currently working from home, there may be temporary strains on the internet and video conferencing apps. Don’t let that throw you if it happens.

testing the remote recruitment equipment

2. Choose a suitable place 

We’re all getting more used to seeing what our colleague’s bedroom wallpaper looks like, but for a job interview, you should try to find a place to set up that has a decent background and is quiet. And while you may not need to be dressed as you would for a day in the office, you should look reasonably clean and smart! It’s respectful to the candidate as much as anything.

So, look for a quiet setting with decent lighting and a neutral background. Also, do what you can to prevent any unexpected interruptions and turn notifications off on your phone and computer.

find best spot for remote interview

3. Be prepared

Take just as much time as you normally would to prepare for the interview. Also, if there’s anyone else interviewing with you, make sure they’ve read the candidate’s application and CV in good time as well.

Think ahead about how you’ll take notes so as not to be off-putting. You don’t want to spend all your time looking down and typing—so work out how you can make notes in a way that’s discreet and secure.

charity salaries compared with uk overall

4. Communicate honestly and get back to candidates when you say you will

Keep candidates well-informed at each stage of the interview process and follow-up when you say you will.

This is going to be so important in the current circumstances which means things won’t always run to plan. So, keep candidates informed of any delays and be completely open about the reasons.

communicate with candidates remotely

5. Put the candidate at ease and thank them for their time

Without being able to welcome and end an interview in the way you would in person, you can easily come over as a bit of an automaton on screen, which isn’t fair to the candidate. Take the time to ask how they are before you start, and to end the interview by thanking them for their time and effort.

putting candidate at ease remote recruitment

6. Give the candidate time

Pause to ensure the candidate is done with their answer, before moving onto the next question to account for time lags and lack of usual social cues. It’s good practice to wait a few seconds before cutting in, just in case.

time for responses - remote recruitment

Remember, it’s all about adaptability

Hopefully, by considering these things before you get started with remote interviews, you’ll be able to communicate with your candidates as well as possible in the current difficult circumstances.

It boils down to being extra vigilant about treating people courteously. Taking the time to properly prepare for remote interviews is part of that—as is being scrupulously good at getting back to candidates when you say you will and being upfront and honest about any delays.

And remember, just because the economy has slowed doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for work, so try not to put your recruitment needs on hold if you don’t absolutely have to. Have any questions about the best ways to recruit in the current economic client? Get in touch with one of our Account Managers today.

Tags: coronavirus, Covid-19 resources, recruiting for your charity, remote recruitment, working from home

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About the author

Jean Merrylees

Jean Merrylees is a freelance content writer and editor who has previously written for the BBC. Jean is now taking her first steps into the charity sector after spending some time writing for both Diabetes UK & CharityJob.