Virtual Recruitment - A Case Study


In amongst the global chaos, the approaching Coronavirus and its potentially devasting impact, the Ministry of Health implemented a National Close Contact Service (NCCS) in Wellington, to trace people who had connected with someone testing positive for the virus.  This was a government priority.

This was a highly uncertain situation; hard data was not available; the country went into Alert Level 4 lockdown and ‘unprecedented’ became the word of the hour.

The Wellington contact tracing project was set up under urgency by a highly committed team who tirelessly worked on ‘building the plane and building the runway’, with the population of New Zealand tuning in daily, to hear how they were progressing.


250people were needed at the Contact Tracing Centre which was running two sifts per day/7 days a week. These people had to be registered/ previously registered nurses or have a medical background and be able to handle difficult calls with people who would not know they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus.

When virus cases increased, the selection criteria changed; registered nurses were relocated to front-line positions, people were stood down if they shared a home with a front-line worker and additional, criteria regarding suitability to work in NCCS was added to the recruitment process. Numbers changed each day.

1000people ‘possibly’ were concurrently required to form a remote national workforce to carry out contact tracing if the virus escalated through community transmission.


To assist the Ministry of Health’s recruitment efforts, an alliance was formed with Peter Crestani, Capital Recruitment and his team (Wellington) and the Frog team.  It was all go with team members, each in their own home, for 13 days straight, jumped into action to recruit a compliment of people for both the physical location and the nationwide workforce.

Unfettered by the usual organisational constraints; they lived, ate and slept their work to stand up a team of people who fit the bill by:    

  • Standing up a ‘rapid recruitment model’ within 3 hours.

  • Customising processes to manage the high volume of hundreds of applications

  • Ultrafast turnaround with a robust process plus references

  • ‘Ready to go people’ to fill shift numbers for the following day - presented daily at 3pm

  • Multiple social channels, referrals, direct approaches to membership organisations and companies with people out of work due to lockdown, video messaging, networking and data base searching, tile campaigns

  • A professional, seamless candidate recruitment experience designed with consideration that many applicants would not have interacted with a recruitment company before

  • Brand management elements for the Ministry of Health.   

  • Remote induction including OHS checks

All of this was enabled by a technology platform and automation tools that increased the speed of the project. This included:

  • SEEK Integrated Talent Search (SEEK ITS) for sourcing candidates nationwide

  • Automated registration and on-line referencing

  • Video and telephone interviewing

  • SMS one-to-many broadcasting, automated communications updates

  • Microsoft Teams channel for internal communications and daily work-in-progress forums 

  • An online timesheet portal and induction system

  • LiveChat for payroll and assignment queries

And the human touch was not lost. Technology is one thing with virtual workforce building, but the experts in the process are a critical element too. Here, a personalised approach was activated with those working in NCCS and two-way communication was encouraged. 


  • x70 recruited:

    to support NNCS Wellington – and as cases reduced, staffing totals were scaled back.

  • 0% issues: 100% high calibre people recruited.

  • x350 ‘ready to go’

    for a national remote workforce with medical backgrounds – for IF the virus became community transmitted. Standing up of a remote tracing workforce would be urgently needed so preparation was key.  The goal was set at 350.

  • x150: additional people, on standby across New Zealand, also IF needed.

“Please pass on our immense gratitude. You and your team have been incredible partners to us.”
Ministry of Health NCCS


This project is an example of the way forward. By embracing new skills and technology we can plan for the next frontier. 

With the old normal in the past, the window to innovation and creativity is open. The opportunity right here, right now, is to reinvent the way we work and give employers a unique option to review and make changes which could include everything from digital rosters, remote workforces, job descriptions, team composition, among many factors. 

For more information on our services and how we can assist you with your staffing requirements, or other case studies, please contact us here

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