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 to COVID-19. Being interviewed whilst social distancing just takes a little bit of thought and preparation.


Advertising for a post needs to be right, it is an important part of the process,


It is very important that you follow these guidelines when advertising a post. You must not state or imply in a job advert that you’ll discriminate against anyone. This includes saying that you are not able to cater for an employee with a disability.


You want to attract the best applicants and if you follow these recommendations you will provide a very professional advert that contains all the right information for your prospective applicants.


✓  Name of your setting – you can add your full address too

✓  Where you are based (not everyone knows all the villages / towns, please add ‘near’ .….. (major town)

✓  Title of the role – there are many variations –  use the job title that you use in your setting.

✓  Qualification level you require – very important in adhering to ratio requirements, you can add number of years’ experience required at this level you require too if you wish or simply say ‘experienced’ / ‘newly qualified’ / working towards.

✓  Additional phrases  only use phrases like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘highly experienced’ when these are actual requirements of the job. Otherwise you could discriminate against younger or older people who might not have had the opportunity to get qualifications.

✓  The hours – days of the week, start time / finish time, is the post term time only? Shift pattern.

 Salary – be transparent, provide a range or state ‘negotiable’, competitive or attractive

✓  Some information about what skills and knowledge you require. You will have a more complex list of skills and knowledge ready to send out in your job application packs

✓  What else do you offer that would attract applicants? Holiday, don’t forget further training – place a high importance on continued professional development that you offer, a lack of training opportunities will increase turnover

✓  Sell yourself! You want to attract the best people. Your advert needs to be professional and demonstrate your commitment to finding the right people. Include your vision, what your staff say about working with you, what families say, your last Ofsted comments, Ofsted judgment, sum up your values, have you any accreditation, awards you have won?

✓  Do you invite potential applicants to visit your setting? Informal visits can be a good opportunity to see your applicants. Do not ask people to attend for a session unpaid or volunteer for the day, this is NOT good practice. It’s a chance for you to see this person and how they present themselves

✓  Interview date or dates and other activities you use as part of the recruitment process. For example ‘candidates shortlisted for the post will be expected to provide an story / activity for a small group of children or / and  complete a written activity or / and undertake a joint observation etc

✓  A safer recruitment statement E.g. ‘We follow all aspects of safer recruitment’. ‘You will be required to have an enhanced DBS’, ‘all references will be taken up’ etc.

✓ Please ensure that your recruitment advert states positively that you actively and positively welcome people from diverse backgrounds and with disabilities

✓  How to apply. NB NO REQUEST JUST FOR CV’s invite people to apply for an application form and have ‘job application packs’ ready to send by email or hard copy. People can send a CV alongside a formal application if you wish

✓  Full contact details Your – Name, Email, Phone

✓  Add a link to your website or social media pages

✓  The closing date for applications – this is really important and in line with safer recruitment and also enables us to keep sharing.


Please be aware of the following


‘SAFERjobs’  and the ‘Principles of Good Practice’  Any ‘job related fraud’, fake jobs or illegal working will be investigated and information passed onto the relevant authority.



Once you have cracked the advert, 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 timeline.


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? Question on arrival 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 is 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. Or the applicant can scan ID in and hold it up via Zoom for checking.


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!

Prepare links and documents to send via the chat.

Prepare your emails in advance and personalise them when sending out

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. Join my VIP group for free training, formats and much more!


Alison Featherbe

Virtual EYFS Support

Orange Caterpillar