As social distancing and home working become a thing of the norm due to the pandemic, does that mean virtual recruitment is here to stay too?

A pressing concern for many organisations is recruitment. If no one’s in the office and face-to-face contact is out of the question, how will hiring managers interview candidates and fill vacant positions efficiently?

One option is to implement a hiring freeze. However, this could exacerbate a business slowdown, especially if a number of key employees are off sick or have to self-isolate. It’s crucial for businesses to carefully assess their recruitment needs and goals, and put an emergency action plan in place to keep projects on track.

Implementing Digital Solutions for Recruitment

Leading tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook have already announced that they will be moving to virtual job interviews for the foreseeable future. So have global recruiters such as Robert Walters and PageGroup. But is this feasible for smaller organisations?

The good news is that not only is video conferencing technology widely available, but it’s reasonably affordable too. Platforms such as Zoom, Slack and Microsoft teams collectively saw an increase of around 5.3 million users in the first week of March 2020, compared to the first week of the new year.

Such apps are a practical way to conduct (nearly) face-to-face interviews with candidates, but they can also be useful for communicating and collaborating with home-working colleagues. For many organisations, signing up for a video teleconferencing solution and switching processes online will be a necessity during the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, virtual interviewing and collaboration don’t have to involve a monthly subscription. If you’re a small business and you only have one vacancy to fill, you can even potentially use your free personal Skype account or ‘freemium’ versions of apps to conduct interviews.

Virtual Hiring Tips for Employers and Candidates

A shift to virtual recruitment processes will require a robust, carefully planned strategy on the part of employers. Those who are used to in-person interviews will need to adapt to virtual screening processes. Particular hurdles to overcome could be proving the identity of candidates, testing the tech (including internet connection) and avoiding distractions.

According to experts at Glassdoor and Modern Hire, employers should aim to maintain the formality of a normal interview. New processes will need to be developed to convey consistent messages about the organisation’s values and ethos, as well as to provide an excellent candidate experience.

For candidates, the advice is to prepare and dress just as you would for an in-person interview. Testing out your internet connection and the virtual conferencing technology in advance are also crucial steps to take. Lastly, you’ll need somewhere quiet, reasonably professional (or plain) and distraction-free in the home to conduct your virtual interview.