The Challenge of Hiring at Arm’s Length - How Can We Best Manage The Virtual Hiring Process?

CHRIS KEELING • 26 Mar 2021

None of us could have seen what the impact of the events of 2020 brought. It has fundamentally changed how we work, how we engage and how we go about our roles. In the world of recruitment this has become even more pronounced. In a function where it is often remarked that ‘people buy people’ and that the personal touch is something that candidates very reasonably expect – how have Talent functions evolved? And how has technology kept pace with their demands?

Whilst the recruitment process can have a lot of commonality between organisations, the areas that really start to differentiate employers in the eyes of the candidate are: the attraction process, the interview process, the onboarding process and, last but by no means least, the whole pace at which the application is handled.

So how have these areas been impacted by our working from home enforcement and has your tech kept pace with your needs?

The Attraction Process:

In truth, this is the one area that probably hasn’t been impacted too much. Candidates always tended to review adverts in their own time (our research shows that the most popular time to search and apply for jobs was late evening – in bed)! However, it is worth highlighting that most candidates do this via a mobile device – so perhaps worth checking how easy it is to do this via your own website!

of job seekers won't apply to a company unless that company's values align with their own.

According to CMD Recruitment, 76% of hiring staff say attracting quality candidates is their biggest challenge. To respond to this organisations need to showcase themselves in innovative ways.

With candidates unable to travel to head office locations and see the ‘best’ of your business, there is an increased need to take your business to them! That is where initial candidate engagement is critical. That is the importance of having candidate portals with links to ‘A day in the life…’, or testimonials from other employees about their experience of working with your organisation, or sharing stories about the positive culture, or the impact that your organisation is having with social responsibility initiatives.

All these issues were important before, but with candidates informing themselves at arm’s length, and with Generation Z being more discerning about the type of organisation they work for, then never has it been more important to position yourself positively in their eyes. According to a recent survey by Glassdoor, 73% of job seekers won’t apply to a company unless that company’s values align with their own. In light of this fact, perhaps tone is as important as content here when projecting your culture – but that’s a whole new article!

The Interview Process:

This is where perhaps the greatest disruption and the greatest change has happened. Traditionally many of us would not have dreamed of hiring someone without anyone actually meeting them face to face. How things have changed. 2020 was the year where Zoom, Teams and other video platforms all came to the fore. However, simply having a ‘face time’ style meeting is not the same as a planned video interview. There are many complex, highly regarded (and expensive) video platforms out there already. But what we have seen is the need to ensure the simplicity of the technology is there for all users – and that the facility to capture the interview (both the video and the transcript) are linked to your own recruitment system.

Why is this important? Because without this in place, you could face a claim of unfair bias; or discrimination. Having consistency in the process, having evidence of what was asked and what was said and allowing hiring managers to perhaps view responses without seeing individuals is priceless in securing equality in your hiring process.

The Onboarding Process:

of candidates drop out after offer and before starting.

11% of candidates drop out after offer and before starting (source: Webonboarding survey 2020) – in other words, you do all the hard work to find the right talent, and then they fail to start after accepting the role. There are few things more disappointing for a recruiter!

So how can this be resolved – and how does technology help? Well, the first area to address is that of Onboarding. This can be a clumsy and, at times, tortuous process. It can take weeks to get a contract prepared, sent and signed. It can take weeks to get references checked. It can take weeks to get Right to Work papers and DBS checks completed. And that is before you add in specific requirements that you may have (ordering laptops from IT; getting email accounts set up; ordering uniforms perhaps? Sending bank details to payroll etc).

That is why, during the past year, we have spent a lot of time improving the onboarding capability within Jobtrain. Capturing all the above elements – and more - in a single Onboarding portal that allows organisations to secure the talent, at pace, and with full compliance. This is something of a holy grail in recruitment – and one that we believe we have delivered on!


Any business textbook will advise that two things kill deals – time and momentum. Doing things with pace is therefore vital if you want to hire the best talent. Using a great Applicant Tracking System should support you in this quest. Having your recruitment managed online, completed electronically in minutes, not days, is critical. This should cover everything from the signing off job requisitions, to completing references, to issuing contracts (that can be signed electronically) to managing the entire onboarding process.

Many deficiencies in recruitment processes have been brought into sharp focus this past 12 months as organisations have been forced to do things differently. If some good is to come from this past year and the pain and disruption that we have all experienced, it should be that the lessons learnt are now built upon. That will mean ensuring your technology supports you in the way you need to be, not in the way you once were. 

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