Founded in Ireland in 1968, Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries. Concern has worked in partnership with the very poorest people in over 55 countries and has responded to every major emergency. With an annual budget of €150m, Concern employs over 3,000 staff globally: 350 between their headquarters in Dublin, UK, NI & USA; 215 international (expat) staff across the world and 2,592 national (local) staff in 26 countries.
Concern’s recruitment challenges are more adverse than most – the remoteness of their candidate pool can be problematic.
From Dublin, Concern recruits worldwide for: Country Directors, Programme/System Directors, Area Coordinators, Programme Managers, Nutritionists, Education Advisors, Financial Controllers, Logisticians and Programme Support Officers.
Traditionally, Concern’s 1st round interviews were conducted by telephone with the disadvantage of bad network connections, local distractions and costly mobile calls. The 2nd round interviews were conducted face-to-face with the difficulties of expensive travel costs
(flying candidates to the nearest field office); inconsistent and sometimes irrelevant interview panels as the successful candidate wouldn’t necessarily be reporting to those in the panel but only interviewed by them as they were closest to the candidate’s current location, not to mention the time involved for all parties.
Another big issue with overseas recruitment was the ‘Dublin send us these people’ feedback from the field where the teams and hiring managers on the ground had never met/seen the faces of new colleagues before they started. In 2011, the then Head of ICT of Concern introduced Sonru video interviewing as a potential solution to these challenges.
Reduced Recruitment Time
Positive Feedback from Candidates
Some of the Highlights
Concern began a phased rollout in April 2011, initially for technical screening and competitive junior positions. Now Sonru is Concern’s 1st round.
According to Kim O’Kelly, Recruitment Team Lead at Concern Worldwide, “It gives us a more informed first round. It also gets us out to a larger number of candidates – a bigger pool which we can easily narrow down.”
There are generally three steps to Concern’s recruitment process after the application/CV has been received.
Typically from 100 applicants, 10 will be invited to a Sonru video interview, from which 3 -4 or sometimes even just one person will be invited to a live video interview. An offer will then be made or sometimes another live video interview/in-person interview depending on where the candidate is located.
“We have introduced Sonru for senior level vacancies as we have found that video screening aids our recruitment immensely, particularly in the global context, regardless of level of position. We do not see the seniority of role as a reason to reject standard processes, in fact, it makes all the more sense to use Sonru at high level as most junior staff are expected to complete one, and results in hiring managers being familiar with the process from both sides.” – Kim O’Kelly, Recruitment Team Lead
O’Kelly maintains that video interviewing, as part of an increased focus on recruitment generally within the organisation, has made a huge difference in terms of efficiency:
“We’ve seen massive reductions in our time to hire and overall efficiencies. There are several reasons for this, including the hiring of a full recruitment team, but Sonru is definitely a factor.”
Pre-Sonru, Concern filled 42% of their 100 vacancies over the course of 9 weeks. With the implementation of Sonru, this figure rose to 74% with 168 vacancies available.
“Helps to reduce number of interviews by screening out unsuitable candidates.” – Anita McCabe, Desk Officer
“We are able to eliminate some candidates and so do not spend time on unnecessary interviews.” – Peter Doyle, Desk Officer
Sonru has some of the lowest bandwidth requirements in the industry, only needing 140kbps to operate a high quality video. Concern maintain that Sonru has solved many of the problems associated with recruiting in some of the most remote regions in the world.
“It solves the problem with scheduled telephone/ Skype interviews that have to be called-off due to a poor line.” – Paul Wagstaff, Agriculture Advisor
“With Sonru, you get to see and hear the candidate, and that means you may not need to see them at a face to face interview.” – Michael Hanly, Desk Officer for Southern Africa
Furthermore, video interviewing enables the team to assess candidate fit for such challenging roles and environment:
“Candidates have to be a good fit – we have to know the person. Candidates have to ‘have a head about them’ to live in quite challenging environments. We can sense that a lot more from seeing their video interview than seeing it on a piece of paper.”
Most hiring decisions are made in Dublin but video interviewing has provided “connectivity” and now more interest in the process. Kim says that “Sonru has helped make our centralised recruitment more inclusive from the field – you can be part of the assessment or just view who’s coming. Some fields don’t want or have the time to get involved in recruitment, others really want it so we work with whatever input they want provided the process is not delayed.”
Video Interviewing enables Concern to invite field teams to view new employees before they arrive in the country: “it makes such a difference to that ‘Dublin sends us’ vibe when they can see their future colleague talking through their experiences on camera.”
With an average response rate of over 80%, candidate offered positive feedback towards the process.
“It was my first video interview but it was very interesting and very good. It’s something I think most organisations should go for as it saves time and transport resources to interview venues.” – Candidate in Zimbabwe
“I liked the video interview. It was the first time but I found that it was easy and practical. You organise yourself, when you are available and ready, you start your interview. There is no pressure.” – Candidate in Sweden
“This is my first time to take a video interview. It is a very interesting approach, likely to set the path for the future. I like the concept.” – Candidate in Benin
“After 4 years of using video interviewing with hundreds and hundreds of Concern candidates, only two people have come back and told us they didn’t like it. We are very happy with that! My favourite benefit is being able to see someone’s face when they speak, seeing their enthusiasm versus the typed word. We get a much better sense of who the person is.”
Kim O’Kelly, Recruitment Team Lead