Recruiting people into the marketing team here at DSC is a process I really enjoy. Actually, it’s not just the marketing team I’ve recruited for. Our robust Recruitment and Selection Policy at DSC means each department should always have a member from another team present in interviews, which means I’ve helped recruit for the training and research teams recently too.
It’s always interesting to see the variety of applicants that want to work at DSC and getting to meet them (all be it virtually for the last couple of years) for interviews is a pleasure.
I won’t go through creating the job advert in detail, but for our latest recruitment for the role of Digital Content & Communications Officer, it was a new role that had some elements of a previous role, but with a fair few new role responsibilities to boot. So we checked previous job descriptions carefully and created this new one. It’s worth pointing out too that we didn’t specify in the “essential” section the need for a degree.
Before the interviews
It’s been DSC policy for a few years now that we ask for blind CV’s, so all identifying information is removed from the shortlisted CV’s we receive from the agency.
We also want candidates to give the best account of themselves in the interview, so we try and help them prepare as much as possible by sending interview questions in advance.
Again, we have templates for interviews that provide a guideline with regards to the sorts of general questions we might want to ask. We can change and add to these as we see fit of course, depending on the role we are recruiting for.
I usually look to a manager from another department that will be working more closely with the new recruit. Which is a fairly straightforward process as marketing work closely with pretty much every department in DSC.
So, with remote interviewing, the candidate will have the Zoom link in advance and I set up internal diary invites with the colleague helping me do the interviews. We set up pre-interview meetings to chat over the CV’s of the candidates, the questions and who will ask what etc.
From my side at least, having done three interviews remotely since the pandemic began (two for the marketing team and one in the training department) in truth, aside from the fact you aren’t in the same room, the remote interview doesn’t feel an awful lot different to being in person, but that’s just my perspective – I may just be used to it. I’m focussed on the answers to the questions mostly and how the candidate comes across, so it could be a different experience for others.
I think for me, the remote induction is probably the part I worry about the most. Will the laptop arrive on time for the new starter, will they have any IT issues on the first day? It’s not the same as being sat in the office, across the desk from someone, where you can much more easily respond to any issues that may come up. Building a working relationship is probably a bit more nuanced, as ultimately you can’t see across a desk when someone may be struggling with a task, for example.
Luckily, we have a great Induction Policy here at DSC that is just so handy for managers and new starters alike! It covers everything; informing staff of the new person’s start date, arranging a welcome Zoom party, assigning an induction buddy, 1:1 meetings with all managers, going through policies and procedures, talking to the new starter about our Vision and Mission, work goals for the first 3-6 weeks, IT systems training etc etc. It’s so helpful having a list of everything to cover during this period, as there is plenty to remember.
We’ve also got our weekly all staff Zoom check-ins where we break out into groups of four or five and have a good old chinwag for half an hour, so that also helps new starters get to know more people.
So, whilst DSC is now a fully remote working charity, and when we recruited Gabi for the Digital Content and Communications Officer role in November we weren’t really meeting up much at all, 2022 is looking a bit brighter. We have an all-staff day planned for June in person, and we’ve just completed our 1:1 annual appraisals in person. And now I have all my marketing team members in the UK (one person just moved back from Spain), we will look to get together in person a bit more moving forwards. Over to my colleague Gabi who is going to talk about the recruitment aspects from her side of things.
Before the interview
A few days before my interview, DSC gave me the interview questions so I could prepare my answers. This relieved me (although not completely) from the dreaded pre-interview nerves. I’d never experienced this before, usually, it was a case of preparing for the most generic interview questions and panicking slightly when one came up that I didn’t expect. Preparing for this interview became a whole lot easier, I could think carefully about my answers and practice them. As a result, I felt way more confident in myself and came to the conclusion that DSC actually wanted me to succeed, which felt good to know!
Sandwiched next to the interview questions, was a task to complete. Because a large part of my role is content creation and policy, DSC needed to know that I could write. So, they asked me to pen a short article, only around 600 words, that I had to complete in a matter of days. The title was something along the lines of ‘what in your opinion are the biggest issues facing the charity sector at the moment?’. For DSC, this was a way for them to get to know my writing style, as well as my knowledge and understanding of the sector. But for me, this task allowed me to fully immerse myself in the sector and gave me an outlet for my interview preparation.
Personally, I’ve always found online interviews slightly less nerve-wracking, mainly because I seek comfort in the fact that I’m surrounded by my own home. The interview with DSC felt pretty straightforward. As I said, I was given the interview questions beforehand, so I felt very prepared. Both Justin and Shireen were chatty and personable, and they made me feel comfortable very quickly.
Because of Covid, I don’t really know what it’s like to physically work in an office environment. All of the ‘office style’ jobs I’ve had previous to DSC have been remote-based, so it’s an unknown world to me. Although now I am used to online inductions, in the past they have sometimes felt a bit odd. The biggest thing for me previously has been building relationships with colleagues. I imagine that in the office it may be much easier because you have time in between tasks to have a chinwag and you can go for after-work drinks.
What’s great about DSC is that we make sure those important chats that would happen in person by the coffee machine still happen online. As Justin pointed out, we have daily check-ins and coffee breaks, which allowed me to get to know my fellow DSC colleagues over my induction period.
Also, in the first couple of weeks or so of starting my role, my calendar was filled with 1:1s. I had 1:1s with the majority of DSC staff, and it just essentially gave me an opportunity to get to know everyone individually.
DSC also threw me a welcome party! A party… just for me. Unlike a leaving party, for obvious reasons, there wasn’t much that the rest of the staff could say about me. However, our CEO Debra gave me a wonderful introduction to the role, its importance and how it fits in with the rest of DSC. The rest of the time was spent just chatting with everyone. It was a great way to be introduced to the DSC team!