Interviews are a crucial part of recruitment and help social care workforce managers learn so much more about potential candidates than a CV can possibly tell them.
Face-to-face discussions allow employers to see how applicants respond to pressure, how quickly they can think on their feet, and help establish a rapport to see how well a person might fit into their team.
However, in the time of a global pandemic, personal interactions are to be avoided, particularly in the healthcare sector. Many social care recruiters are switching their interviews to digital media, which allows hiring to continue, but presents other new challenges.
We explore the best options for conducting remote interviews, and how good practise can ensure recruitment is successful.
How COVID Has Changed Healthcare Workplace Interviews
Every care home or social care setting will need new staff from time to time. Whether that is filling full-time roles, covering periods of leave, or using contingent/agency staff to fill gaps in the staffing rota.
Video calls are nothing new, but are becoming commonplace, and have changed from being the exception to the general rule.
Many social care managers are now:
- Inviting candidates to remote interviews via platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
- Conducting fewer interview stages to reduce the number of steps in the recruitment process.
- Interviewing applicants individually, rather than as part of a panel of hirers.
A remote call simply isn’t the same as meeting somebody face-to-face. That said, by preparing well, we can help applicants find the experience less stressful, and employers gain the essential information they need to make a decision.
The main challenges of remote interviewing include:
- Having fewer interview participants, and thus not having as much of balanced opinion, or not having colleagues to discuss each applicant with.
- Not having that personal interaction with a potential employee to be able to get to know them a little better.
- Candidates lack the benefit of being able to visit a potential workplace to get a feel for the working environment.
- Patchy connections and time delays can make the conversation stilted and uncomfortable.
Alternative Social Care Recruitment Techniques
As we learn new ways to communicate and carry out our daily roles, so too has recruitment needed to pivot.
One of the essential factors in smooth recruitment techniques is to consider the best way to reach suitable quality applicants, how to communicate the skill requirements, salary on offer and job requirements.
The aims of hiring a new member of staff are unchanged – you want to:
- Attract the best possible social care talent.
- Learn more about each applicant.
- Deliver a pleasant experience for each candidate.
- Find staff who fit your requirements and have the right healthcare training.
- Explain the detail of the social care jobs on offer, and make it appealing to the right skill level.
All of these requirements can be met through digital interviews, provided some thought and planning go into how best to conduct them.
The alternatives to traditional face-to-face interviews include options such as:
- Video interviews via Zoom, Skype, Teams, Google Meet etc.
- Telephone interviews (being mindful that not every applicant may have access to a secure internet connection).
- Streaming real-time workplace virtual tours.
- Preparing candidate application packs with more information about the role and work environment that typically would have been shared during the interview.
- Informal colleague chats – sometimes through social media or What’s App – to help applicants ask questions and meet the team.
With each of these options, the aim is to replicate the traditional interview and hiring process, whilst adhering to guidelines around reducing direct contact.
Tips For Digital Interviews For Social Care Jobs
Given that digital interviews are likely to be as new to an applicant as they are to an employer, this change is a learning curve for us all.
Here are our top tips for streamlined, well organised and smooth interview processes:
- Always arrange a mutually convenient time, and conduct interviews in a quiet place without interruptions.
- Have a list of questions ready in advance – this also allows you to consult colleagues and compile a comprehensive list of topics to discuss.
- Ensure the same questions are asked of every candidate, regardless of how the interview is conducted.
- Incorporate extra time into the recruitment schedule to allow for colleague discussions, follow-up interviews if necessary and to ensure interviews can be scheduled at the right time for all participants.
Let’s look at some of the different interview options, and best practise recommendations for each medium.
- Tell the applicant what number you will be calling from in advance – it is best to use a work phone number for a secure and private connection.
- Confirm the time of the call, so that they will know to pick up. This is especially important if you use an undisclosed line, which could be mistaken for a spam call.
- Decide how many people will be on the call, and ensure everybody has access to any conference call links you might be using.
- Test the line before the call – nothing makes an interview more stressful than a crackling connection, a volume that is too quiet or too loud, or time lags after speaking.
- It is best to use a landline rather than a mobile; this avoids potential connection issues or a breaking signal, and usually prevents those annoying time delays where participants can end up talking over each other.
Virtual Video Interviews
- Whichever software or app you are using, make sure every participant has access to the programme, has it installed in advance, and has logged in or created an account ready for the interview to begin.
- Choose the most convenient option – the most popular include Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, although there are many others.
- If interviewing with multiple panel members, make sure you have agreed who will lead.
- Ask all participants to mute their connection when not speaking. This prevents background noise from disrupting the flow of conversation.
- Test the connection in advance, and always use a stable broadband connection – remote interviews via mobile are possible but can be less reliable.
- Make sure the connection is secure for privacy and security.
- Always have an alternative available – such as a telephone interview – as some candidates might not have access to a computer or laptop, or may not have a reliable Internet connection.
Care Home Virtual Tours
- Offer virtual tours if possible; real-time, live streams are ideal, but pre-recorded videos are an alternative where this is not possible.
- Ensure all staff, visitors, patients, and residents are aware of the video being recorded or streamed and do not feature anybody who does not wish to be shown.
- Check that confidential information is not shared via a video stream; think about notice boards, paperwork, files, patient name cards on doors etc.
- Invite attendees to ask questions, and be involved in the tour process as they would in an in-person visit.
- Let everybody know what programme you will be using – What’s App is a popular choice. If applicants do not have access to the software or app you are using, try to offer a pre-recorded video available by other means so that all candidates receive the same information.
- Be mindful of security, and ensure you are using a secure connection and that your virtual tour is accessible only to invited attendees.
Interpersonal Connections in a Distanced World
When it comes to social care jobs, interviews are vital to be able to get to know each applicant. Personal qualities and having a compatible team are just as important as recruiting social care staff with the right skills and training, and many of these things can’t be communicated clearly through a written document. It is still possible to conduct engaging interviews, and deliver a positive applicant experience through virtual recruitment – and with the right planning and resources, workforces can continue to thrive.