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Recruiting Wisdom

6 Tips On Hosting Virtual Recruiting Events and Coffee Chats

min read

As COVID-19 continues to cause schools to cancel in-person recruiting events and companies to pivot to work from home, many recruiting teams have explored how to shift their in-person recruiting events to virtual.

Flo Recruit recently surveyed 6,000+ law students nationwide and 76.8% report being very comfortable using video conferencing tools. In a digital age where most candidates are comfortable with virtual tools, pivoting your recruitment process to virtual first may not be such a daunting task. 91.7% of the law students surveyed already use Zoom. Hesitancy around using video conferencing technology should not hold companies back from inviting candidates to video chat. The first place to start when making this transition from in-person to virtual recruiting is to identify your recruiting team’s desired outcomes and have a full understanding of all the possible ways to get in front of candidates virtually. 

Dot graph displaying that the vast majority of law students are comfortable with video software.

Types of Virtual Recruiting Events

Virtual Info Sessions and Virtual Career Fairs

A great way to introduce a large group of candidates at the same time is to host a virtual info session or virtual career fair. There are plenty of valuable sound bites the virtual info session could offer attendees. One example would be to share pictures of your office(s) and give a virtual office tour showing candidates what a day in the life looks like at your company.

If you have short videos on what your company does or a sneak peek of the culture take time to spotlight it. Candidates like to get a feeling they are getting to meet the real people behind the scenes of a company. Hosting panel discussions with live Q&A with current employees from across the organization in different fields and locations gives a nice, well rounded view. Have someone from your team in charge of monitoring the questions as they are coming in on the video tool’s chat box so the questions can easily be served to the panelists for answers.


Virtual Info Sessions are very similar to hosting a webinar except that the virtual info sessions are meant to be more interactive and casual. The sentiment of a webinar is more lecture based with a polished and controlled message. Typically when companies host webinars, they select relevant and meaningful industry topics and inform the audience with data and meaningful takeaways on the topic. I would not recommend hosting a webinar where the company only talks about what it’s like to work there for an hour.

Man watching a webinar on a computer

Instead, do market research on current events in your industry that would be most interesting to the candidates you want to hire and package up the data in a concise and consumable presentation. For example, if you are on a hiring spree for new grads, host a webinar on Linkedin profile best practices. Having webinar topics that are engaging for the audience is mutually beneficial because while you are teaching your audience something important to them, your company is benefiting from a branding opportunity at the same time.

Virtual Chats

After your company has hosted group virtual recruiting events like webinars and info sessions, the next step would be to host more intimate meetings like virtual coffee chats. Virtual Chats can be done one-on-one or as a small group. The traditional recruiting process typically consists of a series of recruiter and hiring manager phone interviews that ended with in-person meetings. Now that in-person interviews are off the table, there is no better substitute than integrating virtual recruiting solutions into your process.

I recommend transitioning the initial recruiter phone interview into a virtual coffee chat. As stay-at-home orders continue to be in place, the more we yearn for human interaction even if it’s virtual. During a virtual coffee chat, candidates can put a face to a name and visually see your excitement as you brightly color the vision of your company’s future. 

Flo Recruit Virtual Chats feature

6 Virtual Recruiting Program Tips

1. Candidate Messaging

Many companies have experienced pay reductions, layoffs and furloughs. If your company is continuing to hire during these uncertain times, transparent messaging on the stability of your company is crucial. If you are recruiting someone who is currently employed, be aware that they may be hesitant to switch jobs at this time.

Encourage your leadership team to provide the recruiting team with sound bites on what the company is doing to stay afloat and drive business from there. Partner with your marketing team to craft an eloquent message for your recruiters to put into candidate outreach emails and insert into recruiting scripts for phone interviews and virtual coffee chats. As one law student currently studying at Duke Law commented, “The more communication the better! It’s the uncertainty more than anything that’s causing the most stress.”

Duke Law student quote about uncertainty

2. Building Attendee Lists for Group Sessions

A pro of hosting a large group virtual recruiting event is that it allows your company to get in front of a larger scale of candidates simultaneously compared to in-person events. Instead of sending recruiters to college campuses one at a time for in-person info sessions, your recruiters are able to connect with students from all over the nation at one time. 

Building the attendee list for virtual recruiting events can be done several different ways:

Lastly, most applicant tracking systems can generate lists of emails of candidates who have applied to your positions in the past.

3. Enable Join Before Host on Zoom

It’s common for recruiters to schedule virtual interviews and coffee chats for the interview team yet not actually attend the meeting themselves. If this is the case for your company, make sure you enable the Zoom session to start without the host. This is accomplished by clicking the button “Enable join before host” in Zoom settings.

Enable join before host option in Zoom settings

If you schedule the virtual recruiting meetings through Google Hangouts, the regular default allows the interviewer to join the meeting without the host joining as long as they are using the same business network as the recruiter. From there, the interviewer can easily give access to the candidate to join the virtual meeting. 

4. Join Early

I recently tried to join a webinar 1 minute after it was supposed to begin and I received a pop up saying “The Host Is In Another Meeting”. I wondered, “How could this be? I’m already late!” I logged out and logged in several times and on my 4th try someone popped up saying the panelists were having technical difficulties. Four minutes later the webinar began.

Zoom "another meeting in progress" message

Technical difficulties happen. The only thing you can do is prepare for the worst and have back-up plans in the event you experience one at the exact moment you are trying to begin a virtual recruiting event. As a recruiter setting up virtual interviews and coffee chats, I’ve received emails from the candidate saying “The Hiring Manager hasn’t joined the call” at the exact same time the Hiring Manager is saying, “Where is the candidate?”

If you are presenting a deck to a group of people, I recommend joining 10 minutes early. Do sound checks with every panelist that plans to speak and click through the slides, ensuring everything is queued up. Open the info session to allow candidates to join 5 minutes early, so everyone is ready to go right at start time.  

5. Eloquently Pass On Candidates

It frequently happens where candidates make it through various stages of a company’s recruitment process only to never hear back from the recruiter after the company decided to pass. It’s even easier to ghost a candidate when we are not meeting them in person. During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever for all candidates to receive a meaningful message if a company decides to pass on their candidacy.

Keep in mind, just because a candidate was voted a “No” during the interview doesn’t mean that it’s a “No” forever. Sending kind rejection emails with constructive feedback and/or personally calling candidates to inform them your company has passed on them will send a positive message back to the candidate and keep them engaged. In time, these individuals will most likely gain more skills, making them more qualified in the future.  

6. Establish Goals and Report On It

Tracking ROI (return on investment) and KPIs (key performance indicators) on any business process, especially recruiting, measures the value of the program. As your team strategizes the plan for hosting a virtual recruiting event, decide in advance what each stakeholder will be held accountable for and your target number of attendees.

Consider tracking metrics about the geographic locations of the candidates signing on to the event and how many attendees of the virtual recruiting event end up applying for a position or getting an interview. Tracking the conversion rate of the candidates as they move through the recruiting funnel will highlight which milestones in your virtual recruitment process is most fruitful.

Hiring event conversion formula

Looking Forward

With most companies during these unprecedented times moving to virtual recruiting, it is creating diversity within the candidate pools. In-person recruiting events only expose candidates to companies in a limited way since the candidate pool is limited to local foot traffic. Employers turning to virtual recruitment events that allow them to broaden their reach and connect with candidates they normally don’t have access to will increase the company’s chances of hiring the best qualified candidates regardless of physical location. 

Christina Wells

Christina has been working in the HR industry for over 15 years and is committed to helping recruiters make the transition to virtual events.

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