How can HR succeed at virtual recruitment?



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7 mins

Mixed race woman sits on a blue sofa with an open laptop. She is smiling and gesturing; she is taking part in a virtual recrutiment interview

Learn how to navigate the challenges of virtual recruitment and attract top talent by adopting the right tech and taking a strategic approach to hiring

As more and more organisations are adopting remote and flexible working policies, the talent pool has expanded beyond geographical boundaries. This has made it necessary for organisations to rely on recruitment software, as well as digital-first hiring practices, to find, connect with, assess and hire right candidates – regardless of where they are based. As a result, Florence Carter, people director at Busuu, says “now is the time to invest in a good HR system that automates and covers as much of the recruitment and onboarding process as possible.”

Virtual recruitment provides a cost-effective and time-efficient way to find the best talent, helping organisations to remain agile and stay ahead of the competition. HR teams can do their job without interacting with candidates face-to-face, but what are the other hallmarks of good virtual recruitment, and how can HR teams succeed at it?

In this article:

What is virtual recruitment?

Virtual recruitment is a hiring process that takes places remotely, using digital tools. Candidates are interviewed by phone or video call (using platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams). They do not meet the recruiter or hiring manager in person, face to face. A fully virtual recruitment process might also involve online surveys, quizzes, or assessments, to properly gauge the candidate’s suitability for the vacancy.

What are the advantages of virtual recruitment?

Here are just some of the advantages of a virtual recruitment process:

  • Ease of scheduling – it can be easier for candidates and hiring managers to fit interviews into their busy diaries, if they do not both have to be in the same physical location
  • Saves time and costs associated with travel. For companies that are fully remote, or support hybrid working, it’s sensible for recruitment to be virtual too
  • It speeds up the hiring process. Digital, online assessments help recruiters screen out unsuitable applicants more quickly than in-person assessment centres or tests
  • It can help to create a better candidate experience. Because virtual recruitment is quicker and easier than traditional, in-person hiring processes, candidates will be able to get a decision on their application more rapidly
  • It creates a broader talent pool. Because applicants don’t need to travel to a physical location to complete their interviews, hirers have a broader pool of candidates to draw from. This can help to improve the diversity of hire too – such as by making it more straightforward for people with disabilities, or caring responsibilities, to attend an interview

How to get virtual recruitment right

1. Attract talent through social media

Social media has become a powerful tool for HR departments to attract talent. With virtual recruitment becoming increasingly prevalent, social media platforms offer an excellent opportunity for organisations to reach out to a wider audience of potential candidates who are looking for work. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor and even Instagram have all given job seekers far more visibility over their career options than they had before. As a result, this means organisations have to showcase their culture and employer brand on their social media channels to attract the talent they want, and to help potential candidates understand if they would be a good fit.

By posting open vacancies on social media channels, especially on LinkedIn – the platform of choice for both recruiters and candidates – organisations can attract talent and save on time and costs. Katrina Collier, author of The Robot-Proof Recruiter, says: “By embracing all forms of social media and showing people what is going on in your organisation behind closed doors, you are giving people the opportunity to rule themselves in or out of the vacancy, which saves you time and money.”

To succeed at attracting talent through social media, HR should work with their organisation’s marketing team to build or showcase the employer brand and internal culture through social media channels. HR can then start to create a strong online presence by maintaining active social media profiles – both by posting to their personal profiles, and by requesting posts to be added to coordinate channels. Post topics could include the organisation’s culture, job openings, and employee benefits. HR can also use targeted advertising to reach out to job seekers with specific skills or experience that align with the needs of the organisation.

Conduct thorough virtual interviews via video calls

Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder of JourneyHR, says, “choosing the right applicant feels more important than ever in today’s current climate. Companies not only need to gauge how well a candidate fits into their culture and behaviours, but also have to make this assessment based on virtual interactions alone.”

HR can select the best candidate for the job without having to meet them face-to-face by carrying out pre-recorded video interviews or a live two-way interview via video calling platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

The long-term benefits of video interviews include creating a comfortable atmosphere for candidates, and a reduction in their carbon footprint by eliminating the need to travel. “You can also reach a wider network of people than those who are able to travel, allowing you to increase diversity and inclusion as a result,” adds Collier.

And, given that so many organisations now embrace remote and flexible working, video interviews can help give candidates an insight into what it would be like to work at your organisation. After all, holding face-to-face interviews for a fully remote or virtual position wouldn’t provide an accurate insight into the daily working practices of that team.

But managers will need HR’s support if video interviews are to be a success, cautions Carter. “It is important to train managers on how to run effective video interviews so that the interviews are as interactive and consistent as possible.” They also need to know what to do in the event of any technical issues, says Robertson. “If the conference-call software fails in the middle of a recruitment video interview, hiring managers should know to have the candidate’s mobile number on hand so that they can move to a phone call instead.” 

Video interviews can also help HR to evaluate candidates more effectively than telephone interviews, because it gives interviewers the opportunity to assess the candidate’s communication skills, body language, and overall presentation. By observing the candidate’s nonverbal cues, HR can gain insight into their level of confidence and professionalism. Moreover, HR can gauge the candidate’s adaptability and ability to handle virtual communication tools, which is essential in the remote work environment.

3. Welcome new hires with robust online onboarding

HR can welcome new starters and help them build connections with others by introducing them to their line manager or colleagues over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. But, when wanting to take new starters through systems, processes, the mission, values and strategy, HR should turn to online onboarding software, such as Ciphr Onboarding. Our onboarding software enables HR teams to inform, educate and engage new employees even before their first day through interesting videos and presentations, and information about their new workplace and colleagues. Plus, you can even invite new hires to complete training and submit essential documentation. Not sure if new hire onboarding software is right for you? Here are 11 benefits of onboarding software that you don’t want to miss out on

After hiring and welcoming new starters virtually, Robertson says organisations should make sure they get feedback on the hiring process from employees and candidates. “Feedback is vital for making improvements that will make the virtual recruitment experience better and more engaging for future applicants.” Need more support to get your onboarding process right? Check out our comprehensive guide to onboarding remote employees.


Do you want to enhance your reputation as an employer and impress applicants with our intuitive onboarding and recruitment screening software? If so, download our brochure or request a demo today.

This post was first published in May 2020. It was updated in April 2023, October 2023, and March 2024 for freshness, clarity and accuracy.