Virtual recruitment - have you considered it?
The history books will be fascinating in the future
2020 will be seen as pivotal in so many ways. As you are probably aware I work in executive recruitment and it’s been fascinating to see how many organisations have dealt with the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
In the past few weeks, I have been working on the recruitment of a significant R&D position based in Germany. In the past, shortlisted candidates would have been flown out to Germany to look round the company and its facilities. As I said, this is a significant role and the thought of recruiting such a position remotely would have been inappropriate and definitely left field 18 months ago. However, in this case the whole interview process was completed remotely, and the candidate is now organising her move from the UK to Germany this August.
It’s a leap of faith for client and candidate
This is truly extraordinary, the successful candidate is changing countries, leaving her current flat having never visited the new company where she is about to work. This is a huge leap of faith from both the client and the candidate. I have to say the interview process in a virtual recruitment scenario works incredibly well. This candidate went through a series of Teams meetings and therefore been able to see the credibility of the people who have interviewed her. In fact, it is much easier to score candidates in this way and it almost seems fairer. Of course, there are far fewer anomalies than in a face-to-face scenario. However, it must be said that informal elements are lost during virtual recruitment.
Candidates don’t move lightly
Certainly, the opportunity needs to be commensurate with such a profound change. This particular candidate has the opportunity to take her career forward and increase her responsibility. The company will offer a broader international perspective and a very attractive package. It is worth organisations thinking very carefully about how they are going to attract new talent, especially if people are going to move as this candidate has done.
I was the initial point of contact
It was my job to convince her that the role was going to give her something over and above what she is doing currently. I have noticed an element of hesitancy and uncertainty in the marketplace. If a potential candidate has a track record and credibility and no they will be paid off should there be redundancy, it’s hard to leave all that behind for a new job. That means it has to be absolutely the right opportunity.
UK companies can struggle to find the very best talent.
Pre-Brexit when a company said they wanted the very best leadership talent in the market it was easy to access this right across Europe. However, this is no longer the case. Yet remote working has demonstrated that if a company has a legal entity in another country candidates can work from home. The only proviso would be they must travel when it is safe to do so. This has actually opened up the candidate universe. Therefore, it has made my job more interesting and challenging because I can search everywhere. As a consequence, I have seen a better selection of candidates and the search is not restricted to one location. It does seem that the pandemic has increased resilience and innovation in all kinds of ways.
I think my role has become increasingly important
This is because if people are slightly sceptical about changing roles my initial conversations will hopefully pique interest. I am the brand ambassador at this point and my aim, in this instance, was to convince the candidate that the prospective role was going to give her something over and above what’s she currently doing.
The whole interview process was completed on Microsoft Teams
Photo: Linkedin SalesSolutions
The candidate had an initial interview with HR Global then an interview with the Director of R&D for the region. This person is very impressive and extraordinarily high profile in the industry globally. She is incredibly well qualified, oozes personality of knowledge and warmth. I once had an hour long Zoom call with her and I was left thinking ‘wow who wouldn’t want to work with her?’ The candidate was then interviewed by R&D and the local HR representative in Germany, alongside one of the peers with whom she would be working.
Of course, it all helped that the company is well known and extremely high calibre. However, virtual recruitment is far more streamlined and a far better use of people’s time. Yes, you lose some of the informal gleanings that happen over lunch or dinner or on walks between buildings but in the main in it extremely successful for both clients and candidates.
The fundamental difference is the post hire care
Photo: Belinda Fewings
Although a company knows what a candidate is capable of doing, they don’t really know them well. So, what happens in the first three months? The initial move may well be exciting but there has to be an element of paternal responsibility to ensure that the candidate is happy. Post hire I ensure that I make contact the minute as successful candidate arrives. Then I leave it a week and call again. The reason for this is that any concerns a candidate might have, she can feed back to me and I can then articulate them back to the client as appropriate. I can be very objective about this and it’s much easier to communicate issues through a third person.
It’s also very important for a company to basically nurture their investment
There is a cost associated over and above money and there may be a cost to the business should a hire fail. In this particular instance the candidate will be working on sensory functions in research and development. If she should fail there will be a cost to the business because her role will attract more clients and customers. Without her input the company may well lose out. Also, what would the impact be to other members of staff should she leave? They will lose direction and leadership and as a European research and development centre it may well be detrimental to her peers that are not necessarily directly working with her.
Therefore, my conclusion is that virtual recruitment does work but the process does not end when the person walks through the door for the first time. We need to replace the human aspects that are less evident through the remote on boarding process. My role, in essence, is to protect your business and I would be very happy to discuss the possibility of your next recruitment round happening virtually.