Social distancing is a new term dominating conversations recently in both social and business environments around the world, unfortunately becoming a part of everyday conversations due to the spread of COVID-19. So when it comes to recruitment, what effects will social distancing, remote working and this shift in the fundamental ways we relate to each other have on hiring?

A company that’s working remotely, or with just essential staff in the office will still have hiring needs. Although growth may be lower due to economic uncertainty, as many companies report, there will always be jobs to fill. And just because the business is disrupted, doesn’t mean you can’t hire - it just means that it’s necessary to be agile and adapt the hiring process to suit the current situation. The following is how many businesses are navigating this new hiring reality.

Business continuity plans set the foundation

The first step in ensuring organizations can still function during uncertain times is to develop new or adapt current business continuity plans (BCP). Ideally, organizations will already have one in place before a situation like this comes up, but it’s not too late to produce a plan at whatever stage it becomes necessary. A BCP ensures that your day to day operations are stable, strong and able to withstand any challenges that uncertain economic times might bring.

A business continuity plan should include the framework for infrastructure that can support working remotely, how team structures will adapt, and how essential support will work. For example, many companies that we spoke to in Vietnam made a plan for essential teams such as IT to come into the office, but on a rotational basis. The BCP should also include what will happen to those in your company that need to travel, including a definition of what travel is considered essential to the business.

With the business continuity plans in place, it’s back to business (perhaps not as usual, but at least as productive). Then it’s time to reevaluate hiring needs and restart the recruitment process for essential roles.

Changes within the interview process

Many first round interviews are already done virtually as a normal part of the hiring process, whether over the phone or through email.  As such, it’s just a matter of continuing this practice throughout the hiring process. This is a great time to use phone interviews, video calls and virtual assignments for all interview rounds. Use technology such as Zoom or Skype, and prepare to make the whole process virtual. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Tips for conducting successful virtual interviews

Prepare and test.

Especially if you’re using technology that’s new to your organisation, set up a test call with a colleague to ensure that microphones and cameras are working properly, and that you know the ins and outs of the new software and how to troubleshoot if needed.

Prepare the candidates.

Ensure the candidate is well prepared by including essential details in the interview invite. Include technical tips, ensure the time zone is correct, let them know of any programs they need to download. Also send up a backup audio line to dial into if something goes wrong with the program you are using.

Be precise and detailed.

Just as in an in-person interview, prepare the candidate with an outline of what to expect, including information such as how long the call will take and who they will be virtually meeting with.

Focus on the parts that matter.

One downside to video interviews is that you can’t rely as much on non-verbal communication to evaluate a candidate. Keep in mind the factors that can make virtual interviews feel awkward, such as delays between the two parties speaking, a blurry video feed and miscommunications. Focus on what the candidate is saying and their experiences, not those awkward moments.

Don’t ignore employer branding.

Even virtually, keep thinking of ways for your unique employer branding to come through. Be creative, this can mean creating a welcome video for candidates to view before or after the interview, or even something like using VR to give virtual office tours.

Follow up.

As with an in-person interview, follow up with an email that includes information on what the next steps in the interview process are, what the timeline will be and ask for feedback, either directly or with a survey about how the virtual interview process can be improved.

Stay protected during face to face meetings

Even with the first few virtual rounds, many businesses we spoke to were uncomfortable with hiring a candidate without meeting at least once in person. If unavoidable, here are a few tips for a face to face meeting, keeping COVID-19 guidelines in mind.

Use necessary equipment such as masks and hand sanitiser and make sure they are readily available to the candidate when they come into the office.
Be sure to keep a log of who is coming and when, along with asking for recent travel history.

Make it an efficient meeting; keep to the times agreed upon and make sure the candidate meets with only the necessary stakeholders within the process.

Hiring will go on

In the end, hiring can go on, even in uncertain times such as these. With the use of technology, interviews can be done virtually, assessments made online and communications done almost as if they were face to face. Looking to the workplace of the future, virtual interviews are becoming even more commonplace, and this may be something your organisation can bring into day to day practice when things go back to “normal”.

While hiring and looking for that perfect candidate, the important part to remember is that we’re all operating in uncertain times, and we’re all human. Through the technology and virtual reality, find the humanity in the process and seek out the best fit for your organisation. The world is changing, but with the right plans, technology and practices, recruitment and hiring can change right along with it.

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