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Focus & Trends in Business

Recruiting in the Virtual Age

By: Donna Cornelius, CEO/Executive Director, LINC & Andrew Brown, HR Business Partner, Nixon Power Services

Working from home…virtual meetings…recruiting in a virtual world. The year 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we believe it will also go down as the beginning of an opportunity – changing how business is done – starting with recruiting.

We have heard from some companies that they put the interviewing process on hold for 30 days to support staff and the new way of doing business. Then there are others who have put a hiring freeze in place not knowing what the future holds or if the virus will hit again in the fall.

We believe that “yes” things are different, but they are not dire – for most. Many companies/institutions are still working. The style of operating has just shifted. Even though there are a lot of “what ifs”, what is known is how things are done in recruiting will most likely forever change. It is about being creative in the recruiting process. It is about developing new best practices and living in a virtual or partially virtual world. For example:

Nestle Purina leverages the web for recruiting leaning in to a growing resource for all business resources. “Converting our traditional past practices into virtual best practices has helped our number of qualified applicants and quality hires soar, which brings us where we are today: a robust recruiting team with a virtual recruiting model that works time after time.”

What are you doing to move with the times? We would like to provide some tips on how to recruit in a virtual world.

Living in the present means planning for the future – Vision
Seeing beyond today or the next 30-60 days as we begin back to our “new normal” and what happens post CoronaVirus.

Now that we are a few months into this (depending on where you live) there are probably processes and recruiting opportunities you have already re-configured. So moving forward we suggest gathering yourself and/or your team and asking a few questions about the return to work and needs of your company/organization.

What do you look at if things go back to business as usual – positively or negatively – what is your plan?
What roles have changed and how do you continue to recruit for those strategic roles?
Group hires such as college graduates – do they continue, stop for a while and how do you recruit for entry-level high talent roles like engineers, residents, etc.
Are you a company that is now forced to downsize and therefore implementing severance packages for more experienced employees? How do you fill the workforce gap with younger, less experienced hires knowing that those closer to retirement will take the buyouts? This includes considering: knowledge loss, recruiting for overlap to pass on knowledge.
Are you considering that candidates may not be willing to accept a position because they know nothing about the community and cannot come check it out. (This is actually happening.)
Will your potential talent pool be smaller given that people are less likely to move now?
How do you create opportunities for efficiency in recruiting and still find the best talent?

A change for virtual recruiting to meet the continued needs
Physical distance, pandemics, and social distancing do not remove the need for recruiting for companies to continue. In a time when sitting across the table from a candidate for an on-site interview could be seen as risky, talent acquisition (TA) professionals are getting creative!

Request Video Introductions From the Candidate
Allows candidate to showcase personality
Depending on the role, could be a good predictor of future performance (Sales, customer facing, phone interactions).
Sharing the video with decision makers gives everyone the same key components of an individual and information to compare.
Provides insight to candidates and can be used as a precursor to video interviews.
Potential Changes: having a list of questions that each interviewee answers in their video introductions as well; this could allow for interviewers to already have the “get to know you” information and really allow them to get into the MEAT of an interview. It also makes good use of the alloted time for an interview. Get to the point and ask the hard hitting questions. This list could be curated by the interviewers and recruiting team to get the base level information out of the way early.
Leave it open ended which can let you see a candidate’s ingenuity

Video “Face to Face” Interviews
This could be developed to mimic what an on-site interview would have looked like:
If there are multiple interviewers, use Zoom or another platform to make it seamless for the candidate. Set up one Zoom link and invite your interviewers to take part at scheduled times. It just takes some agility to coordinate, but it is worth it to get all of your decision makers as a part of the process. Additionally, this way the interviewee does not have to jump from one link to another and potentially show up late if one of the interviewers goes over.
Do panel interviews if necessary, utilize multiple interviewers for one candidate, or potentially have multiple candidates speaking to an individual at the same time.
Be respectful of the interviewers and the interviewees time, but also do not cheapen the experience by trying to pack too much into one interview or too small of a time window.
Give the interviewees a heads-up on what to expect, should they be in professional dress? Casual? Business casual?
As a TA team, set your interviewees up for success! If there’s no advantage of keeping them in the dark, then why do it?
Be their ally

Have a Wrap-Up (Andrew Brown practicing what he preaches)
As TA staff, you may not be a part of the process, but at the end of an interview day in person, you certainly would have done a debrief with the candidates, distance doesn’t have to stop you.
Recently, I (Andrew Brown) did a wrap up video and sent it to my candidates. If they had to make an introduction video, what should stop me from sending one back!
It was effective to commiserate with the candidates as the process was certainly stress inducing.
It also creates efficiency. You can send one message to a group with just a simple video, as long as you are prudent about using broad terms instead of names.
It served as a good jumping off point to next steps.
It gives some finality to the interview day.

Utilizing assessments is also a good tool to use during social distancing or remote recruiting. There are many platforms to use
Corporate culture is a consideration by company and candidate. Incorporating a culture test is also a great way to vet a candidate. (i.e. Culture Index)

While deciding to do remote interviews may have developed out of necessity, Andrew says, “It certainly has opened the door to continue these in the future. After a successful “interview day” my team was able to make solid decisions on candidates just as if they had been on-site with us. Does that mean we will always do remote interviewing? Maybe not, but it certainly shows us that the virtual tools that we have work and that the generation in and entering the workforce is prepared to utilize these tools to make distance an easy hurdle to jump.”

Remember all things are possible, it just takes a little ingenuity and creativity. What is your most creative change during this time?