Has the rise in flexible working changed the way we interview?
During the time of multiple lockdowns, isolation and social distancing, the way we went about certain things had to change accordingly. One of which being how employers conducted interviews with candidates when the traditional face to face format was not an option. The ‘go to’ was via on line platforms such as Zoom or Teams, which served as a perfectly acceptable alternative and continues to be so for a lot of our clients. On line interviews allow participants to dial in from multiple locations, removing potential scheduling conflicts and shortening the interview timeline. This has made it a popular choice for first stage meetings for employers before potentially organising a face to face if all goes well.
The reduced risk of the alarm being raised if a candidate is noticed entering a rival firm’s office makes on line interviews appealing to applicants who are hesitant about the process. Off site meetings have always been an alternative option but if the choice of travelling is removed, in particular for initial stage, the majority will tend to choose remote. With many firms now offering hybrid working at least some percentage of the week there is no need to use annual leave to attend an interview, assuming lunchtimes or evenings are not feasible, as long as the candidate is comfortable doing so and doesn’t feel it will affect their productivity in their current role.
Another stage many firms have is some form of testing, whether it be personality or knowledge based. Having this move on line can again reduce the interview timeframe by sending it out electronically and not having to schedule in added time/an additional interview, and also places less pressure on the candidate having to complete it in a time restricted and unknown environment (unless this is something the employer also wants to test). From a recruiter's point of view, scheduling a quick and convenient Zoom call to discuss interview techniques (virtually) face to face and give advice can help increase our chances in our candidates securing a new job.
Post pandemic there has been an increased awareness of mental well being in the workplace. One factor that is said to be a positive contributor to this is physical exercise and the outdoors, resulting in some now taking interviews on the move. The increased ventilation is a benefit in reducing the spread of Covid and the rise in endorphins can result in a more enjoyable and potentially successful interview. Of course, this format would not be suitable when interviewing for particular types of roles, but works well as a preliminary chat where both the employer and potential employee are getting a feel for one another.
When the process needs to progress to second and final stages then it is still assumed that a face to face is required. Moving roles is a big decision and in order to feel you have given it your full consideration it makes sense to move the process from virtual to physical. Having a tour of where you will be working (at least part of the week), trialling the commute, and meeting your soon to be colleagues in person are all important when deciding if the move is really the one for you.
Overall, the trend most definitely seems to be remote first stage interviews with the additional stages moving to face to face, either in the office or off site. We have noticed it can dramatically reduce the timeframe as we no longer have to wait for participants to travel back from overseas/client meetings, and candidates are able to take part at more times of the day. There is always the added risk of poor connections or technical issues, however as an initial stage it can be a win-win without wasting too much of the firm’s and candidate’s time and resources.