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Four Things to Know to Interview During COVID-19

Winnie - Recruitment Slowdown Blog

COVID-19 has changed how we approach work. Like most other organizations, we have had to respond to financial pressures and pause some hiring. As you may have noticed from our website, we have temporarily reduced our job postings by roughly 75%, and are recruiting only for roles that address our most immediate business needs. For prospective candidates, here are four important things to know or do for your interview.

1. We’ve Decreased our Posted Roles

We grouped all our previously open roles into two categories that are determining how quickly we’re moving with the hiring for each:

  • Hire now: Most of our currently posted roles provide continuity to our operations. Mostly on our fundraising, repayment, tech, health, safety, and security teams, these roles advance our immediate COVID-19 response, day-to-day operations, and can function fully through virtual work (which not all of our other roles can).

  • Pause: These are roles we have reevaluated or made internal arrangements for. Generally, roles here are difficult to hire and train remotely, so we have postponed hiring for the time being and removed the postings from our website.

2. We're Going Virtual

While our office-based staff are working from home, we remain virtually connected. We have similarly modeled our recruitment processes to conform to remote working — all interview stages for the roles we are currently hiring for will be conducted via email and teleconferencing.

Here are a few considerations and adjustments to keep in mind, to help you with the new digital approach:

  • Strong internet helps
    If you experience connectivity issues, please let your recruiter know. We advise having a backup plan for your WI-FI, such as purchasing an extra data bundle. If any of this comes at an additional cost to you, make a request to your Recruiter and we will – within reason – reimburse you for data and airtime costs due to virtual interviews.

  • Acquaint yourself with the software
    In your interview invite(s), your Recruiter will suggest software choices for the interview, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. Once you settle on one, practice how to navigate its functionalities if you aren’t already familiar. It may be prudent to install at least two options so you have a backup channel in the unlikely event that one fails or develops glitches during the call.

  • Get the right equipment
    We recommend having a headset and webcam at hand for the duration of your interview. Please let your Recruiter know if you do not have access to these, so you both can make alternative arrangements.

  • Exercise patience
    Technology is helpful, but it is not without its challenges – connection fluctuations, which create audio and visual distortions, can make connecting a real struggle and frustrating. We will do our best to be patient and assume the best intentions of those involved, and we ask for the same from you.

  • Plan accordingly
    In the pre-COVID world, you would have likely been asked to visit our offices and rural sites as part of your interview. Although the virtual interview deviates from this setup, it will still require significant time from you, and we ask that you plan accordingly. The entire interview process typically will require:

    - A combined four to six hours of phone calls
    - Nine to 12 hours dedicated to the completion of a work exercise
    - Two hours for the final panel interview.

If you are interviewing from a time zone that is different from the hiring team’s, we will adjust the agenda to accommodate your availability.

3. Try Out “Going to Gemba” Through Our Channels

At One Acre Fund, we believe in regularly stepping outside of our day-to-day focuses to go to ‘where the real work happens’. We call this “Going to Gemba” — gemba is a Japanese word which means ‘the real place’. In our organization, gemba can be a farmer’s field, warehouse, or meeting you might not usually attend. We go to gemba because it keeps us grounded and connected to what defines us as a team – our mission, values, and the culture that drives us to always put Farmers First.

Typically our interview process offers candidates their own chance to “Go to Gemba” through a chance to visit our offices and interact with our operations to get a feel of our work and the working environment. While you won’t be able to get this experience right now, you can still get to know our work. We encourage you to “Go to Gemba” on our website, and through visiting our YouTube Channel.

Taking a virtual field trip can help you learn a lot to support your application and interviews.

4. Ask Questions & Stay in Touch

We know it can be difficult to obtain some information in a virtual interview; so we urge you to be proactive, to ask as many questions as you need, and to remain engaged during your meetings and activities. While we will do our best to keep you updated as things evolve, we encourage you to pose any questions you may have to us. Your Recruiter is on standby to answer any questions you may have. You can also read Frequently Asked Questions here. We also want to share a few ones specific to our new COVID interview process below:

  • What does a virtual final round interview look like?
    Our final round interviews are set up to simulate the role for which you are applying. We will facilitate virtual meetings, opportunities to learn more about our clients and field operations, as well as team engagements. We will utilize online conferencing software, One Acre Fund’s video library, and video meetings. While we understand we can’t completely simulate an in-person experience, we will do our best to make sure you gain as much information as possible about us.

  • What will happen if I experience problems during the conference call?
    Sometimes, despite our best efforts, hitches still occur. In some cases, candidates can use the camera on their phone for video calls. If it is not possible to have a video call, an audio call is also an option. We understand that it can be difficult at times to maintain a steady connection, and the hiring team will work with you to ensure a successful interview.

  • Is not having a webcam a deal-breaker?
    While desirable, it is not mandatory to have a webcam for your virtual final round interview. Just let your recruiter know and they can help brainstorm other solutions with you, like using WhatsApp, iMessage, or Google Hangouts on your phone, or having an audio call instead. 


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