As the world economies seem to slowly restart, we need to reinvent the way we interact to prevent a re-escalation of the pandemic in the near future. Experts are estimating that the virus could stick around for another 2 years, leaving us with no other choice but to follow strict social distancing measures for the time being.
To stay active and attractive on the job market, employers need, among other things, to revamp their entire recruitment strategy, from screening qualified candidates to onboarding them.
In this blog post, we share our thoughts on the expected effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on hiring processes, as well as tips to help businesses to create a video interview strategy to overcome the social distancing measures forced on us by the pandemic.
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The (expected) effects of COVID-19 on the job market
As of May 2020, the UN is forecasting about 195 million job losses due to COVID-19.
According to an S&P Global Market Intelligence study, airlines, automobile and auto parts manufacturers, leisure, and fossil energy companies will be the most affected, showing a high probability of default.
As frightening as this may sound, not all businesses have been equally impacted by the various measures and strict lockdowns.
In fact, it turns out that most businesses are still hiring.
Most businesses are still hiring
Don’t take our word for it. A live and collaborative analysis (Candor.co) shows that a majority of businesses (59.49%) are, in fact, hiring (32.74% are freezing recruitments and 7.78% of businesses are laying off part of their workforce).
As of May 20th, 2020, here’s what the analysis revealed:
The situation is not as critical as one would think, but no one is out of the woods yet. As the world slowly restarts, social distancing will remain the norm for quite some time, and only one option remains to hire new talent: hire remotely.
This is not something that all Human Resources professionals and team leads are familiar with and, in many cases, it will be a challenging shift.
3 challenges you might face when hiring remotely
We have identified 3 challenges that most businesses are likely to face when hiring new talent in a post-COVID-19 Era.
Starting with the obvious: no in-person interaction.
No actual in-person interaction
Words aren’t the only way we communicate with each other. Our body language can also tell a story about who we are. This is one of the many reasons why social distancing may become a problem for recruiters.
For obvious reasons, they can’t fully grasp a candidate’s personality over a simple phone call – at least, not recruiters ignoring video recruitment tactics.
“RecRight’s newly appointed CEO was hired 100% remotely. I only met him face-to-face a couple of weeks after he had joined us, and he is exactly how I expected him to be. Our video interviews did deliver a real-life impression of him.”
–Saara Saalamo, Marketing Lead, RecRight
Potential technical difficulties
If the UN has declared Internet access as a Human Right (2016), we’re not all equal when it comes to having an internet connection, and a clear gap remains between developed and developing countries. But solutions do exist.
For example, if candidates don’t have access to a stable and unlimited data access point, one option is to bring the data to them, and send prepaid sim cards. An inexpensive and ideal solution that will most likely boost your candidates’ experience from the very beginning.
Onboarding will be more challenging
When starting in a company, newcomers naturally tend to meet the people they will work with and most stakeholders, within the first couple of days. What’s more, team leads or HR managers often schedule lunches and after-work events to introduce the latest hires to the rest of the group and set them up for success.
Due to social distancing measures, those moments are to rarify. As a consequence, newcomers are less likely to be involved in informal, bonding discussions, thus decreasing the likelihood of successful onboarding. In other words, you need a thorough remote onboarding plan.
Having said all that, hiring remotely also comes with its fair share of perks.
6 benefits you’ll see when hiring remotely
It is safe
Hiring remotely means that you’re not taking any chances for yourself, your colleagues, and your candidates. At this point, we can only recommend that you follow WHO regulations and only meet with coworkers and candidates in person if you deem it a 100% necessary.
You get to enter your candidates’ world – and vice versa
Do you remember this 2017 BBC interview briefly interrupted when kids entered the interviewee’s office?
As funny as this is, it’s gentle a reminder that, behind our titles, tasks, and skills, we’re people.
This is one of the many outcomes of the pandemic: because we’re spending a lot of time at home, we’re inevitably sharing a larger part of who we are with our colleagues.
The same applies to remote candidates. While you should keep the conversation professional, not to waste anybody’s time and eventually miss out on important details, this is an opportunity to meet with people, not only skills and titles.
This extra personal touch is all the more important as recruiters around the world are slowly realizing that skills aren’t enough to justify a hire. In many cases, a successful hire is first and foremost a cultural fit for your business.
It’s cheaper and more flexible
This applies to both you and candidates.
Hiring remotely gives you the flexibility to conduct interviews from anywhere, thus avoiding delays and potential scheduling conflicts for all those involved in the recruitment process. What’s more, the time saved by avoiding transportation will result in increasing recruiters’ productivity, thus reducing the cost per hire.
You can track everything
One of the many perks of hiring online is that you get to keep a trace of all interactions with candidates. This is made possible by the use of an ATS (or Applicant Tracking System).
An ATS does help recruiters to keep all the information about candidates in one place. This promotes collaborative hiring – as all recruiters involved in the hiring process can access the same information – and, therefore, positively impacts the efficiency of the decision-making process.
What’s more, tracking every step of your hiring process can help identify bottlenecks you didn’t know about.
You can reduce the effects of recruitment bias using video interviews
A structured remote interview process can significantly reduce recruitment bias, thus giving an equal chance, at first, to all candidates.
Say, what are video interviews, exactly?
So that we’re on the same page, here’s a definition.
A video interview is simply a job interview taking place remotely.
There are two types of video interviews:
The key is to find the right balance and adapt the interview format for your needs. May it be via pre-recorded interview questions or live conversations, you decide how to pick your candidates’ brains. To learn more, read our dedicated blog post: Pre-recorded and live video interviews: What's the difference?
Pre-recorded video interviews provide consistency
When interviewing a candidate live, recruiters may go off track and ask more questions to certain candidates, thus making it more difficult to evaluate candidates fairly in the end. Using pre-recorded video interviews, all candidates will be asked the same questions, in the same order.
Video interviews make the process more transparent
When using pre-recorded video interviews, all questions and answers are stored, and all stakeholders can access them. See it as proof of what was, and what wasn’t said.
In all fairness, this is something that live video interviews also allow, if you record them. The key differentiating factor here is that all the questions asked during a pre-recorded video interview are the same, while live interviews leave room for improvisation.
This makes the process fairer for candidates and reduces the risk for personal bias as more people can get involved in the decision to move forward with applications, or not. For businesses, this is also a shield against rogue accusations from disappointed candidates.
To learn more, read our piece on how video interviews reduce discrimination.
You can tap into global talent
If the position you’re hiring for allows it, remote recruiting gives you access to an (almost) infinite pool of talented people: You can hire anyone, from anywhere. Besides, when using pre-recorded video interviews, you don’t need to worry about the time difference between you and the candidates.
Now that you’re aware of the many benefits of remote hiring, here’s our 5-step guide to make the best out of it.
5-step guide to building a video recruitment process to keep hiring talent despite COVID-19
Did you ever try to cook a fancy dinner without utensils? Or to do some gardening ... without any gardening tools? Well, if you have, you know that the result wasn’t great.
Same. Thing. With. Remote. Recruitment.
If you want this to work, you need the right equipment.
Invest in a dedicated video interview software
Of course, you can rely on tools such as Zoom and Google Meet to run live video interviews with selected candidates, but it’s:
- Not scalable
- Not reducing recruitment bias
- Not ideal to deliver the best candidate experience.
Call us biased, but we highly recommend that you consider using a video interview software, fully integrated with an ATS. This is key for recruiters to:
- Screen candidates fairly, and faster,
- Share the interviews with other stakeholders and get second opinions.
- Handpick the top candidates to interview live later on.
See an example of the process here.
How to select the right video interview platform?
We recommend that you look into 5 criteria when benchmarking the right video interview tool for your business.
- Ease of use: If the platform gives you and the candidates a hard time, this is not going to work. Give it a try and ensure the platform you select is both intuitive and simple for everyone involved.
- Customer support: while you should be able to navigate yourself in the tool, you may need help or some advice to make the best out of your investment. What’s more, when new features will be released, a highly-responsive customer support team will be there to show you around.
- A built-in commentary and rating system: when scoring and rating candidates within your video interviewing platform, the communication throughout the hiring process becomes a lot easier, especially when doing so 100% remotely.
- Mobile-friendliness: smartphones are the most-used devices to interact with video content. What this means is that you need to ensure that the video interview tool you end up using lets users go through the entire process from a mobile device, without having to download any app. Both your colleagues and future candidates will appreciate the ease-of-use.
- ATS Integration: If you’re already using an ATS, make sure that it integrates with your video interview platform. Note that, if our video interview platform is a part of our ATS, it also seamlessly integrates with many ATS applications.
Screen candidates efficiently
Sure, they provide a lot of information about candidates and their skills, but most CVs aren’t even inspected thoroughly by recruiters. In fact, we now know that recruiters don’t spend more than 6 seconds, on average, on each CV. This isn’t enough to learn anything about a candidate. On the other hand, recruiters can learn a lot about candidates and their unique personalities by watching 30 seconds video interviews.
Besides, CVs only put skills and titles forward. They’re not helping when trying to hire people and personalities. Using a video recruitment platform (just like Recright), you can screen candidates by watching their answers to your pre-recorded questions and learn a lot more about who they are in the process.
“It’s [pre-recorded video interview] mainly to identify the right people in terms of more abstract personal qualities and attitude, not so much to go into their skills or expertise. We have face-to-face interviews for that. After 20 seconds, you form a conclusion of the person.”
–Jonathan Laitala, HR Business Partner at JYSK
Run structured live interviews
Once you’ve hand-picked your top candidates, you’re ready to move to the live interview phase.
When chatting live with candidates, try to keep the conversation as structured as possible, and follow the same pattern for all candidates. This is essential to reduce the risk of being influenced by the many recruitment biases.
Here are 5 extra interview tips to strengthen your remote recruiting process:
- Schedule interviews using tools such as Calendly. Note that advanced tools, such as RecRight also let you schedule your live interviews directly from the ATS.
- Share relevant information about your company culture and help candidates to picture what it is like to work for your organization. This is extremely important as 56% of job seekers say that they’re also discussing with 2+ companies when in a recruitment process. If you happen to be at the office, show them around.
- Inform candidates of the next step(s) of your hiring process, and get back to them as soon as you have relevant information to share.
Don’t make them wait. We strongly recommend that you let candidates know that you won’t be moving forward with them as soon as you can.
- When using a video interview tool, recruiters should send instructions to candidates so that they know how to use it (and don’t have to stress about anything going wrong). Note that RecRight automatically sends a tutorial to applicants as you invite them to participate in video interviews.
- Be ready to answer questions about how your company copes with COVID-19. According to jobpal.ai, 47% of job seekers demand to know more about how the businesses they apply to react to the pandemic.
Here are 3 COVID-related common interview questions that we believe you need to be ready to answer:
- What are your COVID-19 safety protocols?
- If an employee gets sick, what’s your plan to keep others safe?
- How and how often will you communicate about the pandemic with your employees?
The more accurate the answers you give, the more you’ll show candidates that you take the situation seriously.
Hire and onboard your newest coworkers, remotely
This is the last, and maybe the most important step of your remote hiring process.
Given the current situation, and the doubts authorities have at the moment, you may have to do this remotely for quite some time. This means that you need strong processes in place. Here’s what we recommend:
- Introduce the newcomers to their colleagues during all-hands-on-deck company remote meetings.
- Schedule catch up meetings with their direct manager, daily or weekly, to ensure that the onboarding is going well and that the tasks are clear.
- Schedule onboarding sessions with key stakeholders to introduce other teams (and what they do for the company) to the newcomers.
- Organize informal team meetings and activities as often as possible. Being onboarded remotely can get pretty lonely and confusing without the informal chit-chat by the coffee machine with Mark and Beatrice from accounting. One way to solve this is to add daily coffee chats in everybody’s agenda (it’s also a good reason to take a break for everyone else!)
Set yourself (and your candidates) up for success
That’s it. We’ve told you everything you need to know to rock remote interviews going forward, or at least for as long as COVID-19 is a public health threat. As we don’t know how long social distancing measures will last, act upon this now, or you may spook candidates with short-term bootleg remote processes.
Besides, if remote recruitment has become a necessity during the pandemic, it is also something your business can benefit from in the future, COVID-19 or not.
If we know one thing for certain, it’s that the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to upgrade the way we work. It’s accelerating what Forbes’ contributor Heather E. McGowan calls the Future of Work.
If you’re looking for a partner to strengthen your remote recruitment process, get in touch and we’ll get back to you in a couple of days!