Safer recruitment ? selecting people for interview or interviewing virtually

Interviewing for a new role can be stressful experience at the best of times, without the added complication of our roles and responsibilities due toCOVID-19. Being interviewed whilst social distancing just takes a little bit of thought and preparation.


Advertising for a post needs to be right, it?s an important part of the process and you can find top tips here on the pinned post?


Make sure you also describe the selection process at this time. A closing date is a must and set yourself an interview date so applicants can see your time line.


If you can, make sure your process of applying can be done remotely. Sending the application form on an email, so that it can be typed on and sent back. Make sure your form does this easily as forms that shift around are hard to manage. Look into google forms, these work well.


Invite people to an interview via Skype, Teams or Zoom (other virtual platforms are available). This will take some preparing and make sure you explain the process in your emails, so that everyone feels confident. Not everyone is familiar with Skype or Zoom, you will also need to make sure they have the latest compatible versions. Be mindful that some computers may not upgrade to latest versions.


Explain about the process of an interview or selection virtually, what time will you contact them, they will need to make sure there is no interruptions and have a ?how are you? to make people feel relaxed. It may be that you provide some questions in advance so that people can make some notes. Tell people if you are recording the session and if anyone else is in the room either listening and taking notes or working on other things.


Preparation is key, have all of their information to hand. Not being able to visit you in person may mean that you have a physical show round opportunity as part of the process. You can organise this at the end of the day when no children are around. It is also a good idea to tell people to research you. This means looking at your website and social media or Ofsted inspection. Applicants will understand your vision, aims and future plans and you can talk to them about that.

It is possible to get an idea about a setting from research and so the applicant can decide if they would be a good fit for you and be able to demonstrate this in their interview.


Applicants biggest concern will be how they come across virtually. Help them to feel relaxed by sending some top tips. These could include

  • Make sure the background is uncluttered
  • Keep the interview ?family-free?
  • Lighting is important for virtual discussions
  • It?s also still important to present well and dress like it was a face to face interview
  • Giving eye contact is hard virtually ? some computers cameras are better than others, whilst this is important you will have to make allowances
  • Technical difficulties ? have phone numbers to hand to carry on the conversation
  • Be yourself and relax!


Consider how you are going to make sure the usual elements of an interview still take place. Formally welcoming and thanking for the application, certificate and qualification information and checking, as well as a discussion about references and DBS information at this time. You will still need to see original documentation ? get it sent recorded delivery and get it sent back recorded asap.


Here are some other preparation considerations


  • Contact the applicant well in advance and provide instructions and a time line
  • Gather all the information you need including phone number in case anything goes wrong
  • Send a reminder the day before and an hour before with joining instructions
  • Think about any necessary adjustments that need to be made to accommodate any special needs
  • Choose a well-lit space for your interview with a clean background and wall
  • Limit background noise and distractions during your interview time
  • Dress as you would for a formal face-to-face interview
  • Focus on positive body language – sit up straight, smile, maintain eye contact and make sure you look at the webcam and not the computer screen. Try not to fill the whole screen with your face!
  • Follow up the interview with a ?thank you? message and invite any additional questions that might not have been covered on the interview
  • Make sure your access to the software that you are going to be used is working well
  • Test your connection and internet speed
  • Run a mock interview with a colleague to check your position on camera


Ready to take the next step in virtual safer recruitment? If you need formats, emails responses, further training, support and advice, do get in touch.


Alison Featherbe

Virtual EYFS Support

Orange Caterpillar