Case study: Recruiting and onboarding an apprentice during lockdown using a new virtual recruitment process

As governments make significant interventions in response to the coronavirus, businesses are rapidly adjusting to the changing needs of their people, their customers and suppliers, while navigating the financial and operational challenges.

Babble are technology partners to businesses in the UK and because of the pandemic, have been busier than ever helping their customers become more digital, data-driven, and in the cloud; to have more variable cost structures, agile operations and automation; while being secure.

The extra demand and growth means they needed to continue their recruitment strategy of employing apprentices to gain experience in a fast growing market.

The ITP apprenticeship scheme recruits, trains and mentors apprentices on behalf of employers. But what happens when a business wants to hire an apprentice during the current COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown when traditionally the process involves a number of face-to-face meetings and interviews? The ITP recently helped Babble find and recruit a Support Apprentice during these unprecedented times with a virtual recruitment process.

We interviewed them to explain how it worked.

Daniel Akers, Head of Tech Services

How did you find the virtual recruitment process?

Really easy, we used Microsoft Teams, a collaboration and communication hub, which sent out the calendar invites and allowed us to have video calls with candidates. We found the recruitment process was quicker because it allowed us to involve people from all around the UK without the need to search for day’s we could all travel and meet face-to-face. The ITP assisted in the process by screening and vetting potential candidates, which took away a lot of the legwork.

What did it involve?

Review of CVs, virtual meetings, follow up review of candidates via a virtual meeting and then the final job offer. The same process as usual, just virtual.

How have you found onboarding and managing a new employee remotely?

It has made things easier as we are more adaptable and using the technology means we are able to check in more regularly from wherever we are.

What measures have you put in place to integrate Chloe to the team?

We’ve structured our induction process to be completed by virtual meetings and had all the kit Chloe needed shipped ready for her to start. The induction process involves meeting key people across our business, finding out who they are, what they do and how they fit into the business.  We have also set up remote training sessions with peers and are using online training platforms and our knowledge base.

Would you hire virtually in future?

Yes, without a doubt. This will become the new normal.

What would you say to other businesses unsure of taking on an apprentice during this uncertain time?

We were conscious that onboarding Chloe would be different to the usual face to face and wanted to make sure this would go just as well, if not better. We made sure she would have the resources and support, so she didn’t feel isolated or out of the loop. I would recommend this process and the ITP is there to support and advise every step of the way.

Chloe Ansher, Support Apprentice

Why did you apply for the role? 

I was interested in doing an apprenticeship and I found the application on Indeed. I decided to fill it out as it really interested me. I didn’t have much of an idea about technology support; but I knew it was an apprenticeship which is about learning the job as you do it.

Even though I hadn’t done anything like it in the past, or in my studies, I started to research it and it found it sparked my interest. By the time the interview came, I was prepared for any questions that came my way.

Charlotte and Lauren at the ITP helped to prepare me for the meeting, and what would be expected.

How did you find the virtual recruitment process?

It was a lot more nerve racking than a usual recruitment process, and very different to anything I have done in the past. Although telephone interviews are usual for me, this was my first virtual call.

While I found it scary, this was just nerves. I could also say maybe it was less nerve racking than walking into an office which may have been filled with 50+ people. Plus, you are in the comfort of your own home so maybe that helps.

How have you found the job so far and what has it been like starting a job during lockdown?

I have found the job very interesting so far, the team have been brilliant, really helpful and very supportive throughout it all.

Starting during lockdown has been a challenge. There’s no doubt that having daily meetings with people seeing them face to face knowing you haven’t met them in person could be awkward to start with. It’s definitely a learning curve, as from day one you are working with a team you have never met!

How do you stay in touch with the team?

We use Microsoft Teams, so the support team have a group chat which is for daily updates. I speak to my team individually when I need potential help from certain people regarding different inquiries from customer.

What would you say to others considering an apprenticeship?

I would say it’s a very good choice to make, it gives you a qualification and you can work your way up to higher education with it. I have always wanted to try an apprenticeship and I can certainly say I have not regretted going down this route one bit.

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