Adapting the Interview & Hiring Process to COVID-19 Conditions

As the pandemic sent shock waves across the globe, companies pulled back on hiring. With the dust settling, companies are pivoting on strategic plans, navigating fluid market conditions, and identifying skill gaps to address new opportunities. Hiring freezes are beginning to thaw. Hiring managers are adjusting approaches to securing, reviewing, meeting, and evaluating talent and that means rethinking the traditional interview process.

Make the Most of Video Meetings

The pandemic has made video conferencing mainstream. It’s an indispensable tool in the hiring process because it maintains all-important face-to-face interactions. Phone calls might be adequate for a first-round interview, but to fully assess a candidate’s presence and presentation, nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting, even if it’s virtual. Does the candidate take the video meeting as seriously as they may have taken an in-real-life meeting? Do they show up dressed professionally, prepared to make their best impression, even though a video meeting may seem less formal? The behavior clues that emerge during the video call can signal the candidate’s level of commitment and their attitude toward today’s remote work arrangements. Virtual meetings should be conducted by as many people as in-person meetings would have been. And candidates are expected to present any materials or candidacy evaluation “homework” virtually as well. If any portion of the candidate’s job responsibilities is going to be completed remotely, they need to be able to demonstrate their comfort with virtual presentation platforms. Virtual presence is an increasingly important candidate characteristic. Soft skills must also be evaluated more closely in today’s digital-first world.

 

Move Fast or Lose the Hottest Talent

Tech-enabled hiring and the fact that most candidates are more easily accessible have accelerated the hiring process. Because most are working from home, arranging phone calls and meetups is no longer dependent on candidates getting away from their office. This efficiency has collapsed the steps in the process, moving candidates along quickly from evaluation to offer. Decision making speed in the interview process was always a factor in companies beating competitors to the most in-demand candidates like those in digital marketing and e-commerce. COVID has just amplified this trend.

 

Check for COVID Comfort Level

The purpose of the interview has not changed, but the lead-up and the actual event has. While most companies are still keeping employees in a work-from-home (WFH) arrangement, others have called teams back to the office. For those companies returning to pre-pandemic operations (or those that never switched to WFH), hiring managers only want candidates who are comfortable with both interviewing on-site in person and working from a company location. Post-pandemic job seekers represent different COVID comfort levels. Our recent polling shows that most prefer WFH exclusively, or a hybrid situation that’s heavy on WFH. So, before candidates are added to the evaluation pool, they should be assessed for their interview and work preferences, both in the short and long term.

 

Communicate Company COVID Protocols

If a candidate is going to be required to take an in-person meeting, companies must be very clear about health security protocols in place. Hiring managers should clarify the policy on face coverings, social distancing, temperature checks, symptom checklists, on-site visitors, and any other measures the company is (or is not) taking during the hiring process, and in the everyday workplace. This gives the candidate another opportunity to evaluate whether there’s a match between the company’s approach and their health security requirements. According to our recent research, how a company handles employee health & safety during this time directly impacts its employment brand and as well as any employment propositions.

 

Don’t Lose Out on Talent Due to Workplace Inflexibility

Some companies have resumed on-site operations and may be adamant about candidates starting immediately under these conditions. We recommend considering a more open attitude, especially for workers with skills in highest demand. Often talent in digital and tech roles are more likely to lean toward remote and flexible arrangements. Hiring managers should explore whether these are deal-breaking requirements – is this a ‘short term’ need until a vaccine is available? At that point, would the candidate be amenable to working in an office setting? Don’t miss out on a top contender due to an unwillingness to compromise.

 

Hiring managers need to be more communicative, collaborative, and efficient when interviewing candidates today. Flexibility and agility are the order of the day, for all of us. For more hiring resources and to learn how a talent recruitment partner like 24 Seven can help support your strategy, click here.