Recruiting BAs during a pandemic…

Myself (Internal Recruiter – IT), Emily (Business Analyst), Adam (Business Analyst) and Darren (Lead Business Analyst), currently look after all things BA Recruitment at AO. We have come together to share our experience of recruitment and onboarding at AO during the UK lockdown. We have been in the fortunate position to keep hiring into the team – but this looks very different to earlier in the year.

With a potential lockdown looming it was inevitable that we were going to have to pull apart our recruitment processes and put them back together…. were we even prepared for this at a few days’ notice? All we did know was that as a business and tech team we are used to adapting very quickly and I was confident we would figure it out along the way!

We were in the middle of a drive to recruit 5 new Business Analysts to the Tech team when we started to test remote working as a business. Our recruitment process includes me working extremely closely with Emily, Adam and Darren who are Business Analysts and Hiring managers. We have always worked as a micro-team when recruiting and truly partner together to get the best new talent into the team. Which got us thinking about how we needed to adapt….

What technology did we have available to interview? Would we accept a job offer if we had never been in the building? How would a candidate feel starting in a new team remotely? How do we remotely onboard someone? 🔍

Just one of many questions we had!

We took it one step at a time and the candidates have been fantastic adapting with us. The most important thing we had through this change was an ongoing feedback loop with us and the candidates. We knew we may not get things right first time but kept learning and trying to improve the candidate experience all the way through to the onboarding.

Our usual process to recruit from CV screen through to Offer didn’t really change much but the way we did it, really did. We had candidates ready to come to the office for their face to face interview but at a days’ notice swapped to a remote interview via googlehangout. This was a piece of tech that we were able to test quickly ourselves and get the interviews online. This was whilst our IT Department quickly looked at opening up some of our internal video conferencing systems to externals. They did this whilst getting 1000s of employers including, 5 contact centres, in a position to work from home in the space of a week…pretty impressive!

We conducted the F2F interviews via video conference call and the most important part was the communication between us and the candidate. With us taking feedback from their experience as an interviewee and we tried to get better as we went along. There had been a few difficulties with people having to have specific email addresses to access the video calls, Darren took a few goes to get the hang of it and nothing can take away from face to face contact – but considering the circumstance feedback was positive.

We now use our own internal video conferencing software which means we have IT support for this too. We seemed to get into the swing of remote video interviewing very quickly – some adaptations to comms and some user guides for getting on the remote calls and we were off…like nothing had changed!

Offering people roles become a little scarier for myself. You usually know if a candidate is going to accept a position based on the cues given throughout the process.

What was motivating them to join? Have we shown the candidate all the areas that are important to them and been honest if there is something we can’t offer? 🙋

However, these were uncertain times some of the candidates entered the process pre-lockdown and by point of offer it may have felt more secure for them to stay with their current employer. Potentially I was convincing myself of things that weren’t true too, based on my own assumptions. I am not a hard sell recruiter and will give you all the facts and tell you why we would love you to be part of the team at AO – but I want it to be the right decision for the candidate. If it isn’t it will impact onboarding, their happiness and the team they are joining in the longer term.

So….how was I going to offer a job to come and join AO, with so much uncertainty. It wasn’t as scary as I thought – still lovely conversations with just with more explanation of what next steps look like!

One thing I learnt was consistent touch points were imperative, as I started to receive comms from candidates worrying that their offers may be revoked at point of lockdown. I feel I could have been faster here.… I was learning too. From this point we regularly had communications with every offered candidate working their notice, not just BAs, weekly if not more. This kept the candidate engaged with us as their onboarding begins at point of offer – all the way through to a final video call the week before to run through first day. Over communication if anything was a real point to take from this, during uncertain times people want to be reassured.

OPEN & HONEST COMMUNICATION, has always been something I pride myself in 💬

but at this time has been the hinging point of my world of work. It was important to talk candidates through what will happen after they accept a role and how we are successfully onboarding people and still scaling our IT department during this difficult time. I feel like I have gotten to know candidates far better than I ever did before and have been completing video onboarding chats during their first month too. This has allowed me to see how our new employees are settling in and get feedback on the onboarding process.

We spoke a lot as a BA recruitment team before anyone started remotely in terms of what that may look like…lots of research and making sure we had lots of touch points. One being the onboarding chats in the first month to provide an unbiased feedback loop back into Emily, Adam and Darren. It really has been a massive team effort on getting our candidates through a fair and consistent process – and it doesn’t just stop at offer….

Part 2 will be coming soon 😉 Detailing how we’ve adapted to onboarding from home 🏘️💻