Guest blog - Recruitment in the post-footwear era

Lisa Goodwin is the CEO of Connected Voice, the Local Infrastructure Organisation for Newcastle and Gateshead. Despite the team mostly working from home during lockdown, Lisa has been able to use virtual tools to keep recruitment going. In this guest post, she tells us what she's learned from the process.

Life is very strange and challenging at the moment, not least for VCSE organisations and our beneficiaries. Some of us have had to furlough staff and close services, while others are supporting huge increases in their number of beneficiaries. Nothing is the same. But (non-furloughed) jobs still need to be done, and people need to be recruited to do them. 

We recently recruited, with the help of a listing on VONNE Jobs, for a maternity cover post which, naturally, couldn’t wait for the world to return to normal, if it ever does. This was my first experience of a shortlisting and interview process carried out entirely remotely. I know video interviews are very old news in many large firms, and I’m pretty sure some high tech firms probably select candidates via DNA profile, but it was new to me, so here are some of my reflections on my experience of virtual recruitment:

Shortlisting remotely is better

What even is a shortlisting ‘panel’? Shortlisting separately and then comparing scores and having some discussion via a video call definitely saved us all some time. And where there was a difference of view it felt like we achieved a consensus more swiftly than had we all been sat in a meeting room with coffee and biscuits on tap. Perhaps it was the people involved, but shortlisting apart is definitely my preferred option from now on.

Interviewing via video call is tiring

I did five hours of Zoom interviews in a row. Big mistake. It definitely requires more concentration, and a full day of interviews is tiring at the best of times. Next time I'll make sure there are some breaks.

Plan time to break the ice

Somehow this felt much more important given the virtual nature of the interview. We all like to put candidates at their ease when they come to interview, but this is harder to do when you can’t physically see them. We left some time for general chit chat and to acknowledge the strangeness of the situation, which I hope helped candidates to relax.

You might be surprised at how much you warm to people

Before the interview I felt everyone was at a disadvantage due to the fact we were using a video call. But it was easy to build a rapport and get a sense of people’s personality. And the successful candidate managed to wow us just as much as anyone would in a physical interview.

Do not mention the background

Especially if it is a big pile of dirty dishes or laundry. Focus on the answers. And maybe give the candidate some feedback about blurring their background in future.

Assume they are wearing trousers and maybe even shoes

I mean, they’ve made an effort on the top half. And who are you to judge, sat in your bedroom slippers?

Roles are still being listed each week by organisations across the region's VCSE sector on our Jobs pages. And don't forget we also offer an enhanced recruitment service for paid employment, trustee roles and salary benchmarking. Visit vonne.org.uk/about-vonne-jobs-and-trustee-finder to find out more.