Concern Worldwide

Founded in Ireland in 1968, Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to tackling poverty and suffering in the world’s poorest countries. Concern has worked in partnership with the very poorest people in over 55 countries and has responded to every major emergency. With an annual budget of €150m, Concern employs over 3,000 staff globally: 350 between their headquarters in Dublin, UK, NI & USA; 215 international (ex-pat) staff across the world and 2,592 national (local) staff in 26 countries.  From Dublin, Concern recruits worldwide for: Country Directors, Program/System Directors, Area Coordinators, Program Managers, Nutritionists, Education Advisors, Financial Controllers, Logisticians and Program Support Officers.

Recruitment Context  

Concern’s recruitment challenges are more adverse than most – the remoteness of their candidate pool can be problematic. Traditionally, Concern’s 1st round interviews were conducted by telephone with the disadvantage of bad network connections, local distractions and costly mobile calls. The 2nd round interviews were conducted face-to-face with the difficulties of expensive travel costs (flying candidates to the nearest field office); inconsistent and sometimes irrelevant interview panels (the successful candidate wouldn’t necessarily be reporting to those in the panel but only interviewed by them as they were closest to the candidate’s current location), not to mention the time involved for all parties. Another big issue with overseas recruitment was the ‘Dublin send us these people’ feedback from the field where the hiring managers on the ground had not been involved in the decision-making process. In 2011, the then Head of ICT of Concern introduced video interviewing as a potential solution to these challenges.

Recruitment Process

Concern began a phased rollout in April 2011 initially for technical screening and competitive junior positions, now our video interviewing solution is Concern’s 1st round.

According to Kim O’Kelly, Recruitment Team Lead at Concern Worldwide, “It gives us a more informed first round. It also gets us out to a larger number of candidates – a bigger pool which we can easily narrow down.” Furthermore, the video interview is used for every level, “We have introduced Sonru for senior level vacancies as we have found that video screening aids our recruitment immensely, particularly in the global context, regardless of level of position. We do not see the seniority of role as a reason to reject standard processes, in fact, it makes all the more sense to use Sonru at high level as most junior staff are expected to complete one, and results in hiring managers being familiar with the process from both sides.”

There are generally three steps to Concern’s recruitment process after the application / CV has been received. Generally from 100 applicants, 10 will be invited to a video interview, from which  3 / 4  or sometimes even just one person will be invited to a live video interview.  An offer will then be made or sometimes another live video interview /  in-person interview depending on where the candidate is located.

Almost Twofold Reduction in Time to Hire

O’Kelly maintains that video interviewing, as part of an increased focus on recruitment generally within the organization, has made a huge difference in terms of efficiency: “We’ve seen massive reductions in our time to hire and overall efficiencies. There are several reasons for this, including the hiring of a full recruitment team, but Sonru is definitely a factor.”

In terms of metrics, in 2009 (before video interviewing) with 100 vacancies, 42% were filled in less than 9 weeks. Roll on to 2014 (with video interviewing) and with 168 vacancies, 74% were filled in less than 9 weeks.

“Helps to reduce number of interviews by screening out unsuitable candidates.” – Anita McCabe, Desk Officer

“We are able to eliminate some candidates and so do not spend time on unnecessary interviews.” – Peter Doyle, Desk Officer

Accessing & Assessing Candidates in Remote Regions

Our solution has some of the lowest bandwidth requirements in the industry, only needing 140kbps to operate a high quality video. Concern maintain that our solution has solved many of the problems associated with recruiting in some of the most remote regions in the world.

“It solves the problem with scheduled telephone/ Skype interviews that have to be called-off due to a poor line.”  – Paul Wagstaff, Agriculture Advisor

“With Sonru, you get to see and hear the candidate, and that means you may not need to see them at a face to face interview.” – Michael Hanly, Desk Officer for Southern Africa

Furthermore, video interviewing enables the team to assess candidate fit for such challenging roles and environment:

“Candidates have to be a good fit – we have to know the person. Candidates have to ‘have a head about them’ to live in quite challenging environments. We can sense that a lot more from seeing their video interview than seeing it on a piece of paper.”

More Inclusive 

Most hiring decisions are made in Dublin but video interviewing has provided “connectivity” and now more interest in the process. Kim says that “Sonru has helped make our centralized recruitment more inclusive from the field – you can be part of the assessment or just view who’s coming. Some fields don’t want or have the time to get involved in recruitment, others really want it so we work with whatever input they want provided the process is not delayed.” 

Video Interviewing enables Concern field teams to be involved in the recruitment process:it makes such a difference to that ‘Dublin sends us’ vibe when they can see their future colleague talking through their experiences on camera.”

 Feedback from Candidates

“It was my first video interview but it was very interesting and very good. It’s something I think most organizations should go for as it saves time and transport resources to interview venues.” – Candidate in Zimbabwe

“I liked the video interview. It was the first time but I found that it was easy and practical. You organize yourself, when you are available and ready, you start your interview. There is no pressure.” – Candidate in Sweden

“This is my first time to take a video interview. It is a very interesting approach, likely to set the path for the future. I like the concept.” Candidate in Benin


With an average response rate of over 80%, Kim O’Kelly, Recruitment Team Lead at Concern Worldwide, maintains that “our candidates are used to online video in their personal life – a given for many working outside their own country – yet they’re usually quite surprised to see it as part of the recruitment process. We’re not aware of any other organizations in the industry using video interviewing, it’s quite new for the sector in general.” Kim presumes this response rate is due to the personal contact they make with every successful candidate informing them that they will be receiving an invitation to the video interview.

“After 4 years of using video interviewing with hundreds and hundreds of Concern candidates, only two people have come back and told us they didn’t like it. We are very happy with that!”

“My favorite benefit is being able to see someone’s face when they speak, seeing their enthusiasm versus the typed word. We get a much better sense of who the person is,” concludes O’Kelly.