Hiring during a pandemic – James talks to us about life at Naked Wines

Hiring during a pandemic – James talks to us about life at Naked Wines

Movemeon employer spotlights are a series of articles highlighting our clients. They detail the internal company culture, employee experience and outline their ideal candidate.

Here, we speak to James, the Global Head of Digital Marketing for Naked Wines.

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You hired a Digital Growth Manager during the pandemic – could you talk a bit about the attached thought process and challenges?

We were planning to expand our central digital marketing team prior to the pandemic as we’d seen a lot of success in expanding this area. We actually started the hiring process before COVID was seriously kicking off in the UK – I remember saying to a lot of candidates, “we’ll hopefully get to meet you, but who knows where this virus will go!” 

We slowed down the process during the first lockdown; we weren’t sure how to do in-depth case study interviews without meeting candidates face-to-face. But as it became apparent that the pandemic was going to go on for a while, and as we did need someone to join the team soon, we decided to do it all remotely. The business need hadn’t changed, so we had to get over the initial resistance to video interviews.

video meeting

How would you describe the experience of recruiting during this time? 

It was tough for us – definitely harder than face-to-face interviewing. We had to think consciously about how to make accommodations for that. We’d initially wanted to do a 2-hour final round in person, with a case study and meeting different team members. It’s actually possible to do that online too, which was the biggest learning for us. But you have to plan for things like technical difficulties and for comfort/tea breaks halfway through the 2 hours. It’s really intense for candidates to do such an interview in person, let alone on video!

coffee break

Do you have any advice for smaller companies looking to grow their teams?

Be open to recruiting online. Think about what that means for yourself and the candidate; e.g. do you want to set up additional calls with people who didn’t interview the candidate, and who wouldn’t have a dedicated meeting in normal times? We found this important to give the candidate a feel for the company, and to assess how they would fit the team.

If there’s a business need, move ahead; don’t wait for this to all be over, but do adapt your hiring process.

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How did you find the online onboarding process, and do you have any tips for others onboarding employees during this time?

This is equally if not more challenging than the recruitment side. It’s much harder to get people up to speed over video, and the logistical side is even more important: it’s key to send things like laptops out in advance, and to check that their workspace is well set up before they start. 

We also found it helpful to split formal onboarding calls and thinking/doing time, so the process is not too overwhelming. It would be very easy for the candidate to spend all day every day that first week on calls, being talked at by people. But we made sure there was time to reflect, and also calls where there was no agenda, only time for them to ask questions. I also like to ask candidates how they prefer to be managed; it’s important to be flexible to their working style.

Q and A

Did you have to change anything about the role because of COVID?

Start date was impacted by the recruitment process taking longer, and by our initial resistance and busy-ness when COVID initially hit. Beyond that, we didn’t really change much. We thought about adjusting the probation period, but ultimately we decided it was OK to leave it as it was.

How did you find working with the Movemeon team?

The Movemeon team are very good at supporting through a screening process and with finding candidates, and very engaged at following up. What I also really like about Movemeon is that they don’t control the communication process –

you let us get on with it and communicate with candidates directly. Having a more direct conversation with candidates can actually be really helpful, especially during a pandemic!

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