Virtual recruitment: Would you hire a business-critical role without a face-to-face meeting?

Contract, Temporary, Permanent...

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Virtual interactions are becoming the new business norm as employers respond to Government instructions encouraging everyone to work from home to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The charity sector has the reputation of being at the forefront of offering flexible working benefits for employees including remote working. Historically this has not extended to remotely recruiting and onboarding through virtual means. During this unprecedented time, recruitment and onboarding processes are having to adapt in order to ensure top talent is still being attracted and hired to business-critical roles.

Having recently partnered with Ambitious about Autism to deliver a key hire to their business, we asked both the hiring manager and successful candidate how they found the virtual process.

We partnered with Louise Posocco, Director of Finance & Planning, at Ambitious about Autism to recruit for a Finance Business Partner. Due to the Government implementing restrictions on non essential travel and working from home we had to deliver this process virtually.

This was a successful virtual process for Ambitous about Autism and resulted in Sam Walker accepting an offer for the role.

Challenges:

Louise Posocco - I went into this process not feeling confident of whether we’d want to make an offer to a candidate having never met them in person. This was our view in finance as well as the view of our colleagues in HR. Like Sam, we weren’t sure we’d be able to get a real sense of a person remotely and thought we might be too far removed to be able to properly decide whether they would be the right fit for the role and team.

Sam Walker - My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be able to get my personality across or do myself justice in the interview. I wasn’t sure I would be able to give them a true feel of what I am like or get a sense of what they are like. I knew that getting concrete answers on the role or organisation would be easy enough over video but getting to know whether the culture was right for me was something I wasn’t certain of.

Overcoming the challenges:

Louise Posocco - We used Microsoft Teams to conduct the interviews, something we haven’t used before. We were pleasantly surprised – the quality of the app is brilliant and really makes you feel like you’re in the same room as the other person. It felt natural and no different to any in-person interview I’ve conducted. This recruitment was for a business-critical Finance Business Partner role, which has become even more business-critical given the financial challenges and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, so it was very important we were able to recruit to it and with a role like this it’s also very important to get the right cultural fit and we felt that MS Teams allowed us to do this.

Sam Walker – My concerns went very quickly! The Ambitious about Autism team was very friendly, and the interview didn’t feel robotic at all. I have had telephone interviews before that did feel robotic but seeing their faces and facial expressions made all the difference. The conversation was flowing, and I could tell that they were as keen to get to know me as a person as I was to get to know them. I was surprised at how natural the conversation was and it genuinely felt like I was in the same room as them after the first couple of minutes, despite the fact I was in a hotel room in Glasgow with choppy internet signal!

What would you do differently next time?

Louise Posocco - We would maybe test the technology a little more; we were a few minutes late to a couple of candidates. In an in-person interview this wouldn’t be an issue as the candidate can wait in reception and have someone reassure them that they’ll be seen soon. Perhaps in future we could have a receptionist start the virtual interview and hand it over to the interviewers.

Sam Walker - As obvious as it may sound, testing my internet connection is strong enough is obviously very important! Other than that, I think I will be confident conducting future processes purely over video and won’t necessarily have to meet a future employer to accept an offer.

Altum Consulting’s key takeaway:

For business-critical roles, cultural fit is of vital importance. For one of the interview stages Louise and the team at Ambitious about Autism held a 'get to know you and us' session. This was an informal video conference for Sam and the team to use as a platform to ask questions and get to know each other better, away from the formal interview structure. This solution worked well to ensure cultural fit from both sides.

To learn more about the virtual processes we have been involved in or how we are supporting the charity finance team please contact our team today.