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Why virtual recruitment is here to stay — and how to make it work

Young woman having video call via laptop in the office
Recruiters can use technology to host video interviews, virtual events, surveys and assessments to evaluate their applicants remotely. Photo: Getty

COVID-19 has seen office culture and workforce management shift in a drastic way, with virtual methods becoming commonplace where they didn’t exist before. As offices remain closed, many employers are hiring people online — interviewing them over Zoom or Teams without ever meeting candidates face to face.

Virtual recruiting describes a hiring process that takes place remotely, without meeting the candidates in person. Instead, recruiters rely on technology to host video interviews, virtual events, surveys and assessments to evaluate their applicants remotely.

With many businesses expected to continue remote working in the future, it’s likely some employers will continue hiring virtually. For employers, it is less hassle to log onto a video conferencing platform to conduct an interview. And for candidates, it can be easier and often less stressful to be interviewed online in your own home, instead of in an unfamiliar office environment.

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Virtual recruiting can be pretty cost effective too. Employers may need a smaller office with fewer meeting rooms, and interviewing people online enables you to screen more candidates in a shorter amount of time.

“Virtual recruitment is here to stay. COVID-19 has accelerated many of the trends that were already in motion and recruitment is no different,” says Stefan Bardega, from the digital marketing firm Traktion.

“In the same way that eCommerce has spiked massively this year accelerating the channel shift from offline to online, so too recruitment is shifting fast from real world to remote virtual recruitment. Aside from very senior executive positions such as CEO/CFO or similar board level — recruitment is all now conducted virtually.”

So how can employers make virtual recruitment work for them?

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Make the most of video conferencing

Face-to-face interviews are great for making personal connections with job candidates and giving people an insight into the working environment and culture. However, it’s still possible to do this when interviewing someone over Zoom, as long as both employer and candidate have stable internet connections.

Before conducting an interview online, make sure you are clearly visible to the candidate so you can pick up on body language and other visual cues that can be harder to read from behind a screen.

Don’t forget about work culture

Virtual recruiting often doesn’t allow inviting candidates on site for an interview, during which they can see the company’s working environment first hand. However, you can overcome this barrier by providing immersive virtual experiences. For instance, you could take candidates on a virtual tour of the office, or have them “meet” various members of the team.

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Paying attention to your work’s culture means you’ll get a better feel for whether the applicant is a good fit. Likewise, the candidate can evaluate for themselves whether they’re interested in what you have to offer early on in the hiring process.

It’s not all about interviews

It can help to think about ways to bring job trials or assignments in a virtual setting. This can include take-home tasks with a time limit, as well as online assessments. Make sure candidates are well aware of any tasks or tests they will have to complete as part of the recruitment process, so they have time to prepare.

Be clear about the hiring process

It’s also important to make candidates aware of what your virtual hiring process looks like from the beginning and let them know what stage they’re at. Explain to them beforehand what tools you’re going to use and how they can prepare.

Send clear instructions on how to take part in the interview. Being interviewed for a new job is stressful enough without having to decipher new technology without guidance, too.

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