How to ensure digital inclusion in a virtual world of interviewing

5 minutes
Penny Raven

By Penny Raven

As with most things, the job market is currently a little different.

Limited face to face interaction presents further challenges, one of which has been very apparent to me over the last year is access to technology, or lack thereof, resulting in digital exclusion. This could undoubtedly be affecting both job seekers and employers.

Having spent a lot of time supporting job seekers through this time and the hurdles they have been facing, I wanted to give my thoughts on how some of these challenges can be overcome as an employer, resulting in a more inclusive process for job seekers and ensuring job seekers have equal opportunity to succeed in securing a job despite some of the barriers COVID-19 has presented.

What experiences have job seekers faced during this pandemic?

I have spoken to many job seekers over recent months who have reported a whole range of experiences related to their COVID-tinted job search, sadly many of which meant that they were excluded from job opportunities. These range from being rejected from an interview process due to poor video or connectivity issues to job seekers not having access to Wi-Fi or a quiet space to work from due to living in a flat share.

In the current market, with more job seekers available, it can be easy to overlook applicants who do not have all the gadgets and gizmos in favour of those that do. My slight caution with this approach would be that you may miss out on appointing the best candidate for the job based on the required skills and experience, so keeping an open mind about how they could do the role may be worthwhile. Making adjustments based on the desire to be inclusive in this context can really make a big difference although there are obvious limitations when it comes to the supply of equipment and cost.

Of course, remote recruitment in this digital world also comes with many advantages, such as access to a wider pool of job seekers anywhere and the speed in which interviews can take place has significantly increased due to more flexibility and availability.

So what can you as an employer do, to ensure you remain inclusive?
  • Consider stating what tech is required, or will be provided, in the job advert.
  • Ensure you invest in and have training on multiple video platforms, offering alternatives to applicants who are unable to use a particular platform. Software options could include FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, MS Teams, and Zoom, many of which do not require a paid subscription.
  • Send all applicants detailed instructions on how to use any software prior to the interview, including a troubleshooting guide, to address difficulties they may encounter.
  • Have alternative technology options available and offer alternative dates or times to interviewees who experience technical or connectivity issues.
  • Ask if any reasonable adjustments need to be made, such as providing a text script for interview questions.
  • Offer to login ahead of time to ensure the applicant has no issues on the day.
  • Provide your contact phone number to interviewees in case they experience any issues.
  • If a laptop or computer is not available for the interview, offer to conduct a telephone interview, which can be just as effective when done properly.
  • Discuss the technology needed for the role and be clear on what will be required or provided to perform the job.
  • Discuss any remotely required training.

With a little forethought and preparation from both employer and job seeker, some of the potential problems that may arise can be resolved or at the very least discussed, leaving both parties more satisfied. It is usually safe to assume that a job seeker who has accepted the offer of an interview is pretty committed to securing a role and as such, they are likely to want to find solutions that work for the employer too. Your interview process may be slightly different, and you may need to be more creative with possible adjustments, but with a joint-up approach, the chance of success is greater.

If the last year has taught me anything, it is the importance of flexibility and having an agile approach, of course at the same time we need to be practical. If all avenues have been considered, then you can feel confident in the knowledge that you have been inclusive and considerate to the best of your ability.

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