Dotcom takes on staff on the strength of virtual interviews

Internet
broker Virgin Direct has recruited 90 new staff in eight months using
innovative virtual interviewing techniques.

The
Norwich-based on-line company Virgin Direct, which provides pensions, ISAs and
savings accounts, used the strategy to allow candidates to decide if they want
to work out of London.

And it
also allowed company shareholders in Australia, London and Norwich to choose
who to select for a final interview.

At a
conference on retaining key talent held last week in London, HR director Dave
Evans told delegates that these interviews allowed the firm to grow from a team
of 22 when it started eight months ago to a growing company of 112 employees.

But Evans
said that the company’s location in Norwich could put off employees used to
working in London with its higher wages. He also had to satisfy shareholders
from Virgin Direct’s Australian business partner and co-founder AMP that he was
selecting top-quality staff.

The
solution to the problem was a two-stage interview system at a hotel near to the
employee’s home. First, candidates watched videos of the company’s Norwich
offices with an introduction by managing director Craig Meller, so they could
decide if they liked the location and prospective new employer.

Then
interviewers asked if the candidate was willing to be interviewed using a Web
camera. All candidates answered six standard questions and interviewers put
their replies on CD-Roms, which were sent to shareholders in Norwich, London
and Australia.

The
shareholders could compare responses by cross-referencing questions then select
the best candidates for second interviews.

Tim
Nicholson, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation,
said, "There are many different ways of selecting people and this sounds
very innovative – but it could never fully replace a face-to-face
interview."

By Richard
Staines

www.virgin-direct.co.uk

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