Back to reality

There’s no question that there’s been a gear shift in the past 6 months. After years of uncertainty bobbing in and out of lockdown, we have seen some significant steps recently, with more charities settling into hybrid working policies, acknowledging the need for flexibility but trying to get the balance around organisational requirements for office presence. We are also hearing more candidates longing for a more connected team culture, more atmosphere in the office and concerns around the loss of symbiotic learning.

As such, we are starting to see a change in the motivations of jobseekers and preferred interview formats from charities. Gone are the days when job seekers were sold on Job Descriptions alone, from our conversations with candidates it’s so much more about the bigger picture: what is it like to actually work there? Who will my team be? What are the offices like?

So with this shift, and new balance of home and away, I’m here to remind you of why in-person interviews can be a real benefit to you, as both hiring manager and prospective employee:

  1. Familiarising yourself with your surroundings

This one seems simple, but where we work is a massive consideration for a lot of us. Thankfully, for the most part, gone are the days of Mon-Fri, in and out of office commutes. However, one of the first things most jobseekers still do, when considering applying for a role with office working, is to look up the office location on Google Maps. How long does it take to get there? How much will that cost? Is there a good sandwich shop nearby for when I forget to pack lunch?

Travel time is one thing, but we also get nosey about what the office space itself is like. Before Christmas, I had the chance to visit some of our charity partners around London, and it was great to get a behind-the-scenes look at the office spaces and their locales. For instance, did you know that the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is based right next to Air Studios (they saw Madonna when she was recording there)? OR that Carers Trust’s new offices are Alice in Wonderland Themed!? Sometimes only an in-person visit can reveal such secrets…

  • Building rapport

For the Interviewee and Interviewer alike, we know how important it is to get a sense of the people that you will be working with. It can be so difficult to gauge personality and energy through a screen, meaning that for the past 2 years, we were starting roles knowing only the face, and Teams/Zoom backgrounds of our new colleagues and nothing about the culture of where we are working. Establishing at least one stage of an interview process in person can provide a fantastic window into an organisation and its personality. For hiring teams, I would advise picking an interview day when team members are around, perhaps having someone give interviewees a tour as part of their visit. If it’s a more informal second round, why not give them the chance to have a cup of tea with a couple of team members following the interview, giving everyone a chance to ask questions outside of a formal setting?

  • Choosing with confidence

In-person interviews have a lot of plus points. But fundamentally, in a market that’s felt a little flaky of late, it can be a crucial factor in decision-making for both parties. Knowing that the person you have interviewed is committed to this opportunity, taking time out of their day to come to the office, meet the team and have a chance to see their personality and presence in action means that hiring teams will feel surer of their choices. Similarly, as a job seeker, it makes a huge difference to meet not only your line managers, but the wider team, see the office space, and the culture of where you will be means that when an offer comes, they can be more confident in what they are accepting – not just a role, but a whole new quality of life.

So that’s it, my key reasons as to why in-person interviews are back, and why we should all be celebrating that fact.