Recruiting remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic
This page provides you with some guidance for alternative recruitment and selection methods that can be applied during the Coronavirus restricted activity period.
If you need to go ahead with recruitment of staff at this time when it is not possible to apply your normal processes, consider how you can recruit remotely but as close to your normal approach as possible.
You will need to:
- plan carefully to ensure you have people available at the right time
- ensure you have the necessary tools available online to interact with candidates and other panel members
- accept that some normal elements of the process cannot be achieved through remote selection and add alternate elements so you undertake as many appropriate activities as possible, allowing you to be confident in selecting a new employee
- ensure the key identity and safer recruitment checks are conducted in accordance with the temporarily adjusted guidance
Below we take you through how to plan a remote recruitment and selection exercise, taking into account the general practicalities and logistics. We also highlight specific advertising and interview advice and detail where the are Government has implemented temporary changes to pre-employment checks.
Planning, practicalities and logistics
Make sure everyone who needs access to documentation has it in good time.
Think about having additional people on stand-by in case any member or your selection panel becomes unavailable.
Keep a clear record through the process just in case you become unavailable during the process so somebody else can pick it up (where appropriate).
Design the process carefully. It may have a number of elements that can be conducted at different times. Ensure everyone knows the part they have to play, when it will happen and how they ‘dial in’.
Make sure you have at least one ‘safer recruitment’ trained panel member involved in the process. It may be wise to have a second involved or available.
Communicate clearly with candidates so they understand what the selection process consists of and how it will be conducted, assessed and when decisions will be taken.
Allow extra time for the process. It will take longer.
Ensure you have the necessary tools available online to interact with candidates and other panel members. Consider how to conduct the different elements of the process remotely using web-based tools (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom etc) where there needs to be visual interaction. Make sure you test those tools ahead of the process. Have a plan B if the tools fail on the day.
Plan for how written tasks or exercises can be designed and conducted so they are time limited if necessary.
Let candidates know how the interview will take place and ask them whether they need any reasonable adjustments for any aspect of the adjusted process
Organise a timetable and send it to candidates, your panel members and others involved.
Conduct the process in the same formal and professional way you would if it was happening in school.
Nominate a chair to manage the interview process and invite panel members to speak. Agree beforehand who will ask which questions.
Whilst conducting multi-person video interviews
- use physical cues – like putting your hand up – during discussions so the candidate knows who’s about to speak
- Keep microphones on mute unless you’re talking
- Give candidates extra time to answer questions and type each one into the chat function of the software so you are sure candidates have heard you right
Add additional safeguarding questions if needed since you won’t be meeting candidates face to face.
For those who purchase a policy service (as part of the HR subscription with EducationHR), see Recruitment and Selection guidance G108f on InfoSpace for further help on conducting interviews, and see here for some example safeguarding questions questions.
Decide whether you want candidates to complete tasks before, during or after the interview and make sure this is clear to them ahead of time, including how long they’ll have to complete the task and how to submit it. For example, you might send them a task ahead of the interview and give them a set time to complete it and send it back.
For tasks such as presentations, ask candidates to send a video of themselves delivering the task so that you can review them in your own time and not over video conference.
If you’re recruiting for a senior position, you’ll likely want candidates to meet staff.
Have specific times for members of staff or groups to log in and meet candidates.
Where practical, use a single video-conference link that candidates can stay on whilst they are being interviewed and assessed.
As you normally would, ask members of staff to feedback on their impression of the candidates.
Temporary changes to your recruitment and selection process
Accept that some normal elements of the process cannot be achieved through remote selection. Add alternative elements where necessary to your process to undertake as many appropriate activities as possible to allow you to be confident in selecting a new employee.
Make it clear that your existing recruitment related policies now have an adjusted approach which the school/trust will take to recruitment and selection.
At the advertising stage, think how you can give candidates a feel for your school if they are unable to visit.
- Could you prepare a quick video tour of the school that can be shared, so they can see the site and buildings?
- Are you able to post more information for potential applicants on your school website, or potentially have a company page (with images/video) created here on Education Job Finder – see this example.
- Perhaps invite potential applicants to contact you at this stage for an informal discussion in place of a visit to the school.
- Ask them to take a detailed look at your school website / Twitter feeds / Facebook page
The Interview process
Prepare interview questions as you normally would.
Once you have applications in and have shortlisted, perhaps have a preliminary interview – relatively short – to tease out (through a set of consistent questions) initial issues important to the school so responses can be considered and explored further through the subsequent activities.
Plan for a final interview to clear up any remaining issues or gaps.
Through video discussions, you are seeking to achieve the face to face opportunity for interaction you would normally have. You may decide to incorporate some or all of the following suggestions for alternative assessment techniques:
- 1:1 interview followed by a group interview
- An online lesson observation may be helpful in
assessing how candidates perform in different settings. Think about how you can
replace physical lesson observations with other activities that will see the
candidate engaging with pupils:
- observe a discussion between candidates and selected pupils remotely.
- if your school is teaching remotely consider if the candidate could teach one of these lessons
- consider reviewing the evidence you would normally be looking for when observing a lesson and use this to set specific interview questions. For example, how do you try to establish appropriate relationships with pupils, or how do you make sure your lessons are (i) engaging for the whole class and (ii) differentiated to support children of all abilities?
- organise for a group of pupils, for example those on the student council, to meet candidates remotely. Have someone from the panel there to observe and record it so you have something to go back to.
- ask candidates to deliver a video presentation on a relevant topic.
Some of the pre-employment checks (e.g. childcare disqualification check – where applicable, ID checks etc) can be pre-prepared in advance of the interview process. You probably already do this as part of normal recruitment processes so continue to do so as it will help speed up the appointment process.
Check ID documents remotely – temporary changes to ID checking procedures mean that candidates can send scanned images of their ID documents and present them via video link. NB. The applicant will still need to present the original versions of these documents when they first attend in person. This temporary change can be applied to the checking of ID documents for DBS and legal entitlement to work purposes.
The DBS have temporarily amended the DBS checking process to say that,
‘for members of the school or college workforce already engaging in regulated activity and who already have the appropriate DBS check, there is no expectation that a new DBS check should be obtained where that member of the workforce temporarily moves to another school or college to support the care of children. The type of setting on the DBS check, for example a specific category of school, is not a barrier. The same principle applies if childcare workers move to work temporarily in a school setting.’
Therefore, where this circumstance arises, you should risk assess the successful candidate as you would for a volunteer. You must satisfy yourself that the candidate has had the required checks. This can be achieved, if you wish, by seeking assurance from the candidate’s current employer rather than requiring new checks.
Contact referees ahead of interviews to be sure you have their input. Potentially request an additional reference.
Where medical questionnaires indicate a referral is required, any contact with Occupational Health is also likely to be conducted remotely. However, provisions and safeguards may be able to be put in place where a successful candidate needs to see a medical professional face to face. Check with your HR or OH provider for details.
All other pre-employment checks continue as normal.