How to hire during unusual times

  • 30-04-20
  • David Landau

Since March we’ve seen an extreme mixture of attitudes towards hiring for accounting teams in Sydney. Today, we wanted to share the story of those that we’ve helped to facilitate their recruitment processes, innovating around the Covid-19 pandemic. These are businesses that made the decision to recruit and onboard virtually.

So what are the most common things we are seeing successful companies doing?


For anyone who hasn’t yet heard of Zoom, it is an easy-to-use, free (for meetings up to 40 minutes) video cloud platform for conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices and desktops. You can have up to 100 participants in each chat.

Our team at Richard Lloyd have used this for our daily companywide catch-ups and a host of other meetings including liaising with Hiring Managers for face-to-face briefings on job vacancies and of course interviewing job seekers.

When hiring for new vacancies, clients who have pressed ahead with their recruiting have found it to be a very handy tool. It’s provided them an efficient online medium for stakeholders involved in the interview to see each other’s faces, and gauge interactions with one another, whilst also sharing screens and information.

In a nutshell, this tool appears to be fast becoming the go-to platform for both hiring and onboarding.


Our advice when hiring in today’s ‘different’ climate is to ensure you are recruiting people against two specific motivational competencies:

  1. Initiative and optimism – these are essential in order to identify people who can seize opportunities whilst allowing them to take obstructions and problems in their stride. As the world seems to be currently changing on a weekly basis, the ability to remain positive and find solutions is becoming increasingly important.
  2. Learning ability – can help identify how quickly your applicant will be able to pick things up. As people work from home, it’s not as easy as ‘normal' times to lean over and ask a colleague a quick question.


  1. Tell me about an unexpected obstacle you had to navigate in a recent project or piece of work. Probe into how they dealt with the issue, the process they took, their dealings with others and what the outcome was.)
  2. What has been the most difficult task you’ve had to learn in your current role? (Probe into exactly how they went about finding answers and what the outcome of these actions were.)


After conducting video interviews, some clients have then opted to invite the preferred candidate to meet for a face-to-face interview keeping the regulations of social distancing in mind. These typically involve relatively quick meetings at their offices in larger meeting rooms.


From a temporary perspective, over-hiring is an interesting consideration that provides flexibility and capacity. Over-hiring defined means "to hire someone more qualified than the role requires to ensure it can be handled with ease". If you’ve conducted a thorough interview that checked the candidate’s technical accounting competencies against those that are required for the role, this will ensure you have a temp join your team that will ‘hit the ground running’. Key benefits clients have found going down this path is that there is limited training required from an accounting perspective, hence it is far more efficient. Clients have also found that training time is minimised and the focus tends to be more on the processes and idiosyncrasies of their particular company. The successful hire then gets on with their job with the hiring manager typically enjoying more peace of mind, comfortable in the knowledge that the candidate can handle this role with little 'hand holding'.  


If you are planning on making a new hire for your accounting team, be it a temporary or permanent employee, you must ensure that you and your team have the availability to train that person remotely and ensure they feel supported. Our clients who have moved ahead with their hiring have scheduled in time for video screen-share meetings to ensure all necessary information is communicated clearly. Our strong advice to them is to ensure the availability of hardware and software, and don't bombard them with a 100-page document for them to ‘familiarise themselves with’.


Here at Richard Lloyd, we are big believers that when a candidate accepts a new job, they are typically excited and raring to start their journey. Harnessing this enthusiasm and ensuring it is maintained is an easy thing to do, yet it’s something we see so many companies get wrong, and that’s during non Covid-19 times. For this reason, it’s arguably even more important to think through how you’ll go about this process in the current circumstances. We’ve seen some great innovation – again using video tools such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom and others to facilitate virtual coffee meetings and lunches, to meet the team, guided tours of the office and more.


In summary, whilst the thought of hiring and onboarding remotely during these times of Covid-19 might seem foreign as hiring is typically such a personal experience, our clients who are pressing ahead appear to be doing so with relative ease. Planning a thorough interview process coupled with the availability of yourself and other stakeholders to train and embrace video technology appears to be the key to success.

If you want to know more about how our clients are hiring accounting staff during Covid-19, please get in touch with our experienced recruitment team.