World of Online Recruitment

Today we explore the world of online recruitment and how the current climate with Covid-19 has changed how we approach this crucial and integral part of any organisational structure.

The New World of Online Recruitment Part One Preparing for interviewing at a distance

Author: Kate Earnshaw, Senior HR Business Partner (Consultancy)

Although due to recent events, many aspects of how we work have needed to change, some things will always remain the same, and recruitment is one of those areas. We still need talented people to work for us, we still need to fill vacant positions and we still need to ensure that we are recruiting people safely and in line with the law and legislation.

There has been no change to teacher resignation dates. You will still need temporary cover for that member of staff starting their maternity leave soon. Staff will still wish to retire and stick to the plans they’ve had in the making for many years – lockdown or no lockdown.

So how do you go about filling that post whilst ensuring you keep yourself, the panel and the potential candidates safe and comfortable? Also, aside from the safety of everyone involved, how do you ensure you don’t inadvertently breach employment legislation? Where do you even start?

The PACT HR Consultancy team regularly work with schools and academies to effectively recruit new members of their leadership teams and we have provided here some things to consider if you are preparing to interview prospective candidates remotely. These will ensure that the process runs smoothly, candidates receive the same quality experience and feel excited about the prospect of working for you and your organisation.

Plan in Advance

Interviewing has always involved planning. Finding a room, sorting a suitable (and available!) panel, setting questions, inviting delegates… the list goes on. Most of these requirements still exist even though the candidate won’t actually set foot into the building.

The Panel

You will still need to identify who is going to conduct the interview. This will depend greatly on how you chose to approach the interview in the first place. Telephone interview? Online interview? One-way video interview? Written submission? Multi-event interview? Regardless of the chosen format; there are some important pointers to remember across them all:

  • Try to ensure the panel remain consistent across the hiring campaign. 

    Ensure you introduce the panel so everyone knows who is there and why. It might be necessary for example to say your name before asking a question if telephone interviewing is being used.

  • Pick a lead panel member to handle the technical side of things, ensure the checklist or agenda is followed consistently for all candidates and to put the candidate at ease.

  • If your intention is to involve others in the assessment or for example, a pre-recorded video submission, ensure that these individuals are clear on their role and remain consistent across the full campaign.

  • Mandatory matters such as Safer Recruitment still need to be considered and therefore your panel should contain a member that has been Safer Recruitment trained recently. If panel members need this training PACT HR can provide this remotely so please get in touch.


You will still need to ensure that everyone involved has a suitable location to hold the interview. What makes a location suitable?

  • Lighting is important when conducting an online interview by Skype, Zoom, Google etc. Ensure you can be seen clearly, and that you can also see your screen clearly. Bear in mind you may be in that location for a while and you don’t want to break a candidate off mid-flow whilst you relocate due to the glare of the sun.
  • Sound quality is important. If conducting a ‘live’ interview either by telephone or streaming you need to make sure your microphone works well and that you can also hear everyone else in the interview. Also consider if you have an open window for fresh air, will you be interrupted mid-interview by the bin collection, barking dog or noisy neighbour?
  • Connectivity can be a real issue. When considering the room consider whether signal is an issue in that part of the building. A candidate might feel embarrassed to have to tell you they only caught every other word of your 5 minute introduction speech.
  • Distractions and disruptions can happen even with the best planning in the world. The DPD driver knocking loudly on your door during a live interview is distracting for you, even if you manage to hide it from the rest of the audience. If there are others in the house or building make sure they know you cannot be disturbed. I’m sure you will recall the BBC interview a few years ago, where two children ‘gate crashed’ their fathers interview and thoroughly entertained the viewers
  • Confidentiality is important. Consider whether your interview can be over-heard by others in the area. Headphones can help here but your comments and questions could still be overheard. It is important to ensure that the candidate declares that they are alone, especially on a telephone interview where you cannot pick up on other clues and cues. It might even be necessary to confirm the candidate’s identity at the outset of the interview.

Know your tech!

Whichever platform and approach you chose, you need to be flexible and prepared for a candidate to not have access; or at least require support setting this up.

When inviting candidate to their interview slot you should explain clearly how the event is going to work, walk-through everything as if you were the candidate and test the system will run smoothly.


Give yourself plenty of time. This means time after shortlisting in order to prepare for interviewing; more time that you expect you will need for the interview to allow for any issues such as dropped connections, muted microphones etc; and time between each candidate in case you over-run or simply need a comfort break.

Need Help?

Don’t get stuck, we are here to help. If you want advice or support on the different options available to you when interviewing, please contact the PACT HR Consultancy Team on 07970 181138 or email

Read more

- For part two of our series of articles, 'The New World of Online Recruitment', read here.

- For part three of our series of articles, 'The New World of Online Recruitment', read here.

- For part four of our series of articles, 'The New World of Online Recruitment', read here.