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HR Consulting & Recruiting: Finding the Right Talent Virtually

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted businesses in a variety of ways.

While some companies have been forced to temporarily close, furlough or implement layoffs, others didn’t necessarily have to reduce staff, but decided to put a temporary hold on filling open positions so that they could focus on the COVID-19 crisis. Still, there are companies that have been able to continue with their recruitment efforts during this time. Those in the fortunate position of continued recruitment have shared that, with some adaptations, it is possible to be successful and that there is often a silver lining in that there is new talent available in the marketplace.

As employers reboot and find their new normal, it is important to have a plan that includes a strategy on how best to move forward with recruitment activities. Preparation and new considerations may be needed to transition existing recruitment models to be more successful. The following information provides guidance and helpful tips as well as strives to answer some of the questions you may have as a result of the unprecedented times we are navigating.

Ramping Up

  • Review and update your company branding and job materials to reflect any changes that may have occurred during the pandemic.
    • Boost employer branding by revisiting/strengthening your employer brand:
    • Review your company’s website, social media pages, and job postings to be sure that they are up to date; reflect any changes you have had to make to products or service offerings as a result of COVID-19.
    • Consider sharing stories on your company website that highlight ways your organization has handled the pandemic and given back to the community.
    • Add a section to your company website and/or LinkedIn Career page, “Why Join Us?” which allows you to expand on what sets your company apart. Consider sharing the steps you are taking to ensure the safety and security of your employees going forward.
  • Revisit Hiring Needs, Job Descriptions and Job Postings:
    • If your company is not currently hiring, remove any active postings from job boards and career sites.
    • Review active job postings and job descriptions and edit when needed to better reflect the current job.
    • Determine if the position has flexibility to work remotely full-time or some of the time. Remote work options are becoming more prevalent than ever so it will be important to review your positions and determine which ones can be done remotely. The more flexibility companies can provide, especially during this time, the higher the likelihood of attracting more candidates.

Conducting Interviews

At this time, many people (on both sides of the interviewing table) may not be comfortable with in-person meetings. Companies need to find new ways to recruit staff that comply with health regulations and ensure that both the interviewers and candidates feel safe during the process. While virtual interviewing was an option some companies used prior to the pandemic, it has now become the most prevalent form of conducting an interview.

  • Conduct an initial interview via phone or virtual interview:
    • Most virtual meeting platforms are compatible with a laptop webcam, handheld device or smart phone.
    • Some popular options include Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, RingCentral Meetings and Cisco Webex.
  • When scheduling interviews via video conference, remember these tips:
    • Verify with the candidate that he/she has the ability to participate in a video conference and identify a platform that suits both the interviewer and candidate needs.
    • Review the vendor information to ensure there are no time limits or other factors to consider. Some of the free versions have limits and abruptly end the call once the limit has been reached.
  • Should a candidate be unable to video conference, consider mobile friendly conference line options.
  • Similar to how you would provide directions to your office, offer the candidate guidance on how to use the software so that the interview goes as smoothly as possible.

Virtual Recruiting Tips for HR and the Hiring Manager

It’s important to be just as prepared for a virtual interview as you would be for a face-to-face interview. This means having questions prepared ahead of time and beginning your interview on time. In addition to these normal preparation activities, you will also want to consider the following:

  • Location - Identify an appropriate space to conduct the interview where you can be alone and where you will not have any distractions. Be sure your space is uncluttered and exudes a professional appearance.
  • Attire - While some people may have resorted to some unconventional apparel during the height of the COVID-19 crisis (ball caps, sweatshirts and more!), interviewers are encouraged to maintain a professional appearance. Remember that solids and neutrals are usually the safest bets.
  • Internet Connection - Now is a good time to ensure that you have a video connection that is strong enough to stream video without interruption. Test your internet connection beforehand. If you find you are “freezing” or “crashing”, contact your internet provider to determine if a faster connection is possible. If you already subscribe to the fastest connection, ask about options to “boost” your signal. Always have a “Plan B” in place (such as a conference line for a phone call) in case the connection becomes unstable.
  • Video - Good lighting is key to ensuring candidates can see you. Experts recommend that if possible, you have the light source in front of the location you are recording from. Try to avoid having a lamp beside or behind you as that will often create shadows or distortion.
  • Sound - Remember to conduct a sound check to ensure your audio is crisp and clear. Table microphones should be properly positioned 1 to 2 feet away and special attention should be given to eliminate any noise that could come from household appliances, shuffling papers or clicking pens.

In Person Interviews - When Virtual Interviewing is Not an Option

At this time, while it’s still important to limit onsite interviews whenever possible, there may be situations where virtual interviewing is not an option. When you have vetted candidates completely and narrowed it down to qualified candidates under strong consideration, you should make plans to ensure the safety and comfort of the candidate and the interviewers. Things to consider when planning:

  • Set expectations - Communicate your commitment to the health and safety of employees and candidates. Provide guidelines about logistics during visits that include:
    • Your company and/or town’s policy on wearing a mask;
    • What you are doing to disinfect the workspace;
    • How you are ensuring social distancing;
    • Provide clear instructions about parking, building entrance and security protocol; and
    • Provide specific information on who to call if they need to reschedule the interview.
  • During the interview - Maintain social distancing:
    • Ensure an interview space where you can maintain 6 feet of separation;
    • Wash hands properly and/or have hand sanitizer available;
    • Refrain from shaking hands and instead greet the candidate warmly; and
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (tables, doorknobs, light switches, etc.).
  • Health Screen Prior to Interview – If the candidate or any of the interviewers are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 the interview should be postponed. Let the candidate know that rescheduling will not have a negative impact on their candidacy.

We encourage you to move forward with your recruiting strategy as soon as you are ready - it can be done!

- Stephanie Bettinelli