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Qatar Airways is using a System called “Sonru” for Recruitment


HR Recruitment Techniques – SONRU – QR HR new Technology for Hiring

Questions from: Rachel Jones, Ecom Digital
Quotes attributed to: Qatar Airways Chief Human Resources Officer, Elizabeth Johnston

One-way video interviewing helps Qatar Airways to kick start the preliminary selection process before the actual face to face interview. Like a traditional interview, candidates don’t see the questions in advance. They click on a link in the invitation to read the questions and answer them one by one with a brief rehearsal and instructions on how to get ready.

Candidates cannot stop, pause or restart an interview once they begin. Qatar Airways can set the maximum read and answer times for each question. It is then decided when to review the candidate responses, and they can be viewed multiple times. Links to the interview can be sent to hiring managers who can record their feedback of the candidate. All that the candidate would require to have is a web cam and a reasonably sound internet connection.

Q1. What type of jobs are you seeing expansion in? I saw that Cabin Crew and Technical positions featured in your recruiting program in September, are there other areas you are recruiting in and will you be using video interviewing in these areas?

One of the world’s fastest growing airlines, Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 16 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 122 aircraft to more than 125 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas with the aggressive expansion continuing into 2013. Our total staff strength amounts to over 27,000 employees worldwide within the Qatar Airways Group.

In line with our expansion, Qatar Airways recruits suitable employees based on appropriate academic qualifications for the specified position, as well as demonstration of a clear career path with progressive experience.

On an interpersonal level, the airline seeks out individuals with strong leadership skills, who are problem-solvers, dynamic, and have a forward-thinking attitude, and who represent themselves as a strong fit with the company’s values.

In addition to the usual priorities of any airline that include flight crew and technical/maintenance roles, we have at the moment of a lot of ongoing recruitment happening for the opening of Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport.

Qatar Airways Group will manage and operate Hamad International Airport. The national airline Qatar Airways will be the principle operator of flights to and from Hamad when it moves its entire operations to the new airport by the end of the year.

Video interviewing is ideal for pre-selecting suitable people to invite for face to face interviews.

Q2. Again I saw that the majority of candidates came from Asia and Africa, was this the plan i.e. did you target these areas or was this a “global campaign”?

As an airline growing at a tremendous rate offering high levels of service, naturally Qatar Airways becomes an airline of choice for potential new recruits. Qatar Airways is recruiting candidates from around the world, largely because of the strong appeal of our aggressive expansion and award-winning business. There are no set regions for recruiting new candidates from. Candidates are free to apply for jobs with Qatar Airways and we welcome that.

Q3. Did you plan to use video interviewing from the start of the campaign or as you saw the geographical spread of the response?

We started our annual plan with huge numbers, and wanted to effectively manage resources by interviewing only selected candidates that fit the required criteria. Video interviewing has allowed us to accomplish a much higher conversion rate of interviewees to placed candidates by zeroing in on those who met those initial requirements – both technically and interpersonally.

Q4. Why did you decide to use video interviewing?

We seized an opportunity to reduce the size of our applicant funnel relative to hires, reduce costs of travel and stabilise recruiter headcount.

So, we decided to trial one way self-service interviews to test our expectations of savings for the same or better volume of results. What we have found is that we are able to interview a higher number of candidates in less time, allowing us to optimise the recruitment process.

Q5. Did you have any concerns about using video interviewing?

There is always a degree of skepticism in relying on new technologies so we managed our perceived risks in this area by conducting a comprehensive trial on video interviewing and are not relying on it for anything other than reducing the number of applicants put forward for face-to-face interviews.

Q6. Did you set any KPIs that you would use to measure the success of video interviewing and can you share these?

We had a low conversion rate of applicant to hire in one of our hiring categories so the trial with video interviewing was aimed at improving this conversion rate.

The conversion rate has improved over the life of the trial for that category by roughly five times from what it was previously, so we are pleased with its effectiveness.

Q7. It seems that “young” people accept video interviewing, what is your take and are there any concerns with the “older applicant?”

It just so happened that the vast majority of the candidate pool for the jobs targeted for this technology were in their 20’s and 30’s and they totally accepted this style of engagement.  After working with the system and experiencing its ease of use, we’re confident even more mature candidates will embrace the new technology as well.

 Q8. Do you believe that video interviewing engages with candidates intelligently and enhances Qatar Airways “candidate experience”?

This approach allows us to very much standardise questions asked of candidates so comparisons really help our assessment consistency and also adds a level of transparency and diligence that would be otherwise hard to build.

Any system with in-built quality like this immediately enhances the hiring reputation of the company – leading to better applicant engagement.

Now that we’re through the trial phase, we are working on plans to take our applicant engagement through video interviewing to higher levels and the convergence of technology in the near future through the spread of devices like ‘Tablets’ will probably assist us to speed up that approach.


Daniel is responsible for Sales, Marketing and Delivery at Sonru.

Sonru is a global leader in the field of video interviewing and selection, founded in 2007 by CEO Edward Hendrick.

Sonru’s Global Headquarters is in Ireland, with regional offices in Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and North America. We also have offices in Australia, UK, France and South Africa.

Sonru’s innovative, multi-award winning recruitment tool helps make early-stage selection easier for interviewers and candidates. Replicating a phone, Skype or face-to-face interview, video interviewing eliminates scheduling and removes the everyday headaches associated with preliminary interviews. Forget about scheduling interviews, time zone restrictions, no shows and unsuitable candidates. Video interviewing lets you “meet” the best candidates earlier in the process, see their fit, personality, drive and motivation, all while saving your company time and money.


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