How to carry on recruiting during the coronavirus

CONTENT RS carry on recruiting

COVID-19 has brought a significant change for businesses. While some organisations have had to effectively shutter, others are working hard to set up remote working and a few are even recruiting to meet a surge in demand.

For businesses fortunate enough to be in the latter position, recruitment will need to be virtual. This might seem daunting – but it is also a fantastic opportunity: changes in the economy might help you attract a broader range of candidates, while remote working might also increase your catchment area.

ACCA Careers helps businesses across the world recruit for 1000s of finance roles each month, so we asked clients and experts to share their tips on how to adapt recruitment practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Be clear with candidates about the process

Now more than ever it is important to provide a good candidate experience and be clear with them about your recruitment process. This includes the timings and contents of each stage, for example, how many interviews there will be and any tests or presentations etc.

You will also need to decide whether the process will entail face-to-face contact. If this is necessary, be upfront with candidates. They will need to understand that, depending on government restrictions, hiring could take several months.

HSBC has put a message on all of their recruitment sites explaining that they will be recruiting using virtual tools and that their teams will be able to assist with technical support. You may want to consider including a similar message in your candidate communications, job adverts and recruitment website.

While SMEs may not have the capacity to offer on-demand technical support, giving candidates advanced notice of the tools – and perhaps pointing them to explainer websites – would be helpful.

Double check your role requirements

Revisit your job description and person specification – you may need to change details in light of the fact that you will probably have to onboard the new recruit remotely.

Emma Bavin, a recruitment manager at specialist accountancy recruiter Grafton Banks (, says many firms now require candidates to be familiar with their software and systems.

She says: “We are finding that clients are now asking for candidates with experience of the specific accounting packages they use: as they are onboarding staff remotely, candidates need to be able to get up and running with their systems with as little training as possible.”

How to run a virtual job interview

It can be helpful to involve your HR or recruitment teams in online interviews. “We are joining hiring managers on virtual interviews a lot more to help them run the interview and make sure we get the best out of it for us and the candidate,” says Lisa Jarvis, a talent acquisition partner Novo Nordisk (

“Our role on the video interviews is to make the candidate relaxed and feel less awkward, we start the interview, set the scene, outline the structure and then stay online to help out with any technical issues that might arise,” she adds.

With a new process in place, before the interview begins, it is important to ensure that everyone on the panel is clear on the agenda and who is covering what questions and topics.

It is also important to set clear expectations with candidates about what you expect from them in their interview.

With virtual interviews, it is also important to be clear on dress code in advance. Some organisations may feel that wearing formal office wear is unnecessary, while others will feel it is important. Barristers, for example, have been asked by courts to consider the professionalism of the background in their video calls.

Some accounting candidates may not feel as comfortable and relaxed with video interviews, so hiring managers will need to be more understanding of that and create opportunities for candidates to open up and feel welcome.

There are always times when technology fails – internet connections are lost, microphones are muted or someone accidentally turns themselves into a virtual potato ( Open your interview with a few words explaining that you understand glitches might happen and not to worry if it does. It is also a good idea to remind the candidate of your telephone number so they can call you if any issues occur.

You may also want to add that you will be understanding about pets or children in the home interrupting proceedings.

Finally, if you want to record video interviews, it is important to inform candidates ahead of time and gain their consent.

We’ve collated our experts 8 top virtual interview tips which you can read here

Keep in touch

Communicating with candidates throughout the recruitment process is always important: for an entirely virtual process undertaken during a global pandemic, it is especially so.

Job hunting during times of uncertainty and economic downturn is particularly stressful so make sure you let candidates down gently and as quickly as possible. This is not just for them, it can also pay dividends in future. The candidate may also be a great option for a future hire – or a potential customer – so it is important that they have a positive experience of your organisation.

For candidates you are taking forward, there may be some anxiety about accepting a role in the current circumstances. Frequent and clear communication is essential: reassuring them about your virtual onboarding procedure – and how you will be able to successfully integrate them into your business – will help allay fears.

Be understanding

The most important message from all the experts and candidates we spoke to about virtual recruiting during the pandemic was to be understanding and human. Things may not run as smoothly as your normal processes, but with patience and communication you may find that virtual recruiting could save you time and money through minimising travel and lead to hiring better candidates more efficiently.

Find out more about virtual interviews, onboarding candidates and how to advertise to the ACCAs pool of 1,000s of global candidates here 

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