Two people having a video chat. Interviewing virtually

How to build trust in virtual recruitment

“Trust is a vital ingredient in any working relationship and I believe it’s what made Sitka’s video recruitment process so simple, efficient and effective. Although it’s better to meet candidates in person, we were really pleased with the results and found a superb candidate.” Tania Frowen, Red Apple Finance.

We recently recruited two roles for Tania. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, few employers would have felt confident recruiting someone virtually without actually meeting them in person. Similarly, few candidates would have taken a job with an employer they’d never met.

But this staggering crisis has made what was once unimaginable a necessity, and a rewardingly straightforward one for Tania and other employers like her.

As recruiters who speak openly about the importance of human face-to-face interaction, we don’t mind saying we had to make a swift move to virtual interviewing and meetings; in some ways, this meant going against what we believed in order to keep our business going. I am so pleased to say it’s been a successful adaptation. But that’s largely down to trust. In this blog, we wanted to share our experience and tips for building trust with recruitment partners and making the virtual interviewing process a successful one.

Sourcing candidates during lockdown

In some ways, the increase in the number of people working remotely during the crisis has made it easier for employers to reach candidates. Despite the economic uncertainty there are some highly skilled candidates out there and organisations are continuing to recruit.

We’ve seen an influx in the number of new queries we’ve been getting, although many of our candidate and client relationships go back several years. These relationships have been key to placing candidates with the right qualifications and soft skills into relevant roles.

For those employers recruiting direct via adverts, the lack of background knowledge can make trust more of a challenge. Thankfully, although we can’t meet face-to-face right now, we’ve spent years meeting people in person, so in many cases we have been able to recommend technically strong, trustworthy and suitable candidates to clients when needed.

Steve Chang has been one such candidate – also a loyal client, he says:

‘I’m never disappointed or worried when I’m interacting with Sitka. It’s reassuring to know they are good at what they do, and historically they’ve always found me the best candidates and the most exciting roles. That is why Sitka is my first thought both when I need a candidate or position filled and am looking for new challenges from a personal perspective.’

Trust in screening candidates virtually

Lockdown has inevitably made processing and trusting document ID more difficult, and while some industries such as financial services have overhauled their processes, others have been slow to respond. Again, for those working with a recruitment partner who has built trust over time this will be less of a problem.

Another difficulty in recruiting virtually comes from not providing a good candidate experience. It takes time and effort to brief candidates and prepare them for online interviews. A big concern for many job seekers right now is not being able to visit their prospective employer’s office, which is why recruiters like ourselves have to build trust by communicating company culture as best we can.

What virtual recruitment has highlighted is the need for employers to consider what constitutes their company culture outside of the physical office space and how that is being promoted. Digital presence has become more important for conveying culture and social cache, and we recommend giving attention to this before starting to recruit. For example, are there staff and client videos available online, are the corporate social media channels reflecting the culture accurately? These are the things candidates can and will use, whether in lockdown or not, when deciding whether an organisation is right for them.

Salary, role and location are still important considerations for candidates, but flexible working arrangements, communication channels and wellbeing initiatives are more so. Lockdown is making many people consider how they want to work more than where they want to work. For both candidates and employers, a recruitment partner can be a vital time-saving go between in managing expectations early on and avoiding unsuccessful appointments.

As an aside, this exercise is important for retaining staff and ensuring they are engaged and coping well outside of the office at the moment too.

Selecting the right candidate online

We’re forever pushing the importance of the human element to recruitment, so it has come as a nice surprise that a greater reliance on technology has not compromised this too much. In some cases, it has made it more authentic.

Although it’s true that you can’t tell some things about a person unless they’re standing in front of you, the fact that video interviews are conducted at a place chosen by the candidate provides insights into their personality you might not otherwise have had. If you’re a candidate, you have the ability to make that environment comfortable, which means you’re more likely to come across well. Of course, technical glitches can occur and that can add stress to the process, but, overall, we’ve found the virtual interviewing process to be a more relaxed one.

Technology can also make up for the shortfall in colleague interaction, for example, by providing opportunities to meet up with prospective colleagues online.

Recruiting virtually is not without its challenges. But we’ve found the transition incredibly valuable and humbling, with many unexpected benefits. One of these is that it can lead to a swifter appointment whilst still allowing for thoroughness and due diligence.

In our last blog article, we talked about the potential of interim recruitment in times of uncertainty, and it’s a point worth mentioning again if you’re struggling to feel certain about a prospective employer or employee; interim provides an opportunity to test things out without having to commit long-term. However, this doesn’t make trust less important. 

If we’re all going to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, we need to trust whoever we employ to do a good job, however long they are with us.

If you’d like advice on recruiting employees you can trust or if you are a qualified candidate looking for a role with an employer, one whose values are in line with yours, please feel free to contact us for an informal virtual chat.