Hiring in a Pandemic Environment

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​The COVID-19 pandemic has given many employers and organizations a host of new challenges to overcome, particularly those related to recruiting. Out of these challenges, new innovations in the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding of employees have emerged to meet companies’ needs. 

With the move to a primarily digital environment, employers have new concerns to account for in their hiring practices and planning. Some of the biggest things they should consider are reviewed in this article. 

Let Go of Geographical Barriers

There’s no doubt that one of the biggest workplace changes ushered in by COVID-19 was the dramatic and widespread adoption of remote working practices. And with the full ramifications of the virus still widely unknown, many organizations must consider their long-term plan. For some, they will cling to old working patterns and return to in-person work as soon as it is safe to do so, while others might recognize that remote or hybrid environments can be just as productive as their old norms.

An important benefit of the remote work strategy is that employers are no longer constrained by geographical barriers when it comes to hiring. Hiring managers can select and offer positions to the best candidates on a state, national, or even global level, and most employers realize that when you broaden the talent pool, you have a much greater chance of finding someone with the right skills who is the right fit for your company. 

Many prospective employees also appreciate the flexibility offered by remote working arrangements and will see that as a benefit in and of itself.

Virtual Interviewing

Interviewing in a remote environment is much more challenging. Companies are tasked with adequately conveying company culture to ensure a good fit for the employee, and they also must gauge applicants’ ability to be productive in a remote environment and make sure that the employee has the proper technical and soft skills necessary to succeed.

While many of the standard interviewing questions will remain applicable, additional ones should be considered, such as:

  • Can you discuss any previous remote work experience?

  • How do you structure your day and prioritize tasks when working from home?

  • How proficient are you with the existing technologies we use (provide examples of remote collaboration tools currently in use)?

  • How easy is it for you to learn new technologies?

  • What additional tools, resources, and training would you need to meet the expectations we have for working from home successfully?

  • Are you strong with collaborating digitally?

  • What tools do you currently use to stay on top of your tasks?

Another important element in virtual interviewing is assessing the applicant’s soft skills. Soft skills are the non-technical skills that are important for doing your job. Examples of soft skills include how an applicant solves problems; how they foster relationships with clients and colleagues; or how they manage their time and workload. In the current environment, the top soft skills that employers may want to assess during a virtual interview include:

  • Communication

  • Collaboration

  • Curiosity

  • Critical Thinking

  • Empathy

  • Agility

  • Adaptability

  • Time Management

Sharing Company Culture Remotely

There has been a plethora of information released in recent months related to the difficulties in promoting company culture remotely. It’s not as easy as scheduling hands-on team-building exercises or planning a company picnic to foster relationships. Building the company culture you want—whether in a remote environment or not—starts during the hiring phase.

Here are a few key strategies hiring managers can use to highlight remote company culture in the interview phases:

  • Rather than describing the culture as you see it, provide examples of the culture across the organization. This additional detail can help the applicant visualize what their day may entail and determine if it’s a job that would appeal to them.

  • Introduce team members. Part of a traditional interview often includes taking a candidate around the office to meet and greet the team. While this process is more challenging remotely, giving the candidate a few minutes of screen time with each team member can tell them a lot about the company’s culture. Plus, you can receive helpful feedback from team members after their introductions.

  • Share corporate social media accounts and websites with the candidate before the interview. A company’s culture is no longer only confined to its team members. It is fostered and refined by the community surrounding the organization, including partners, vendors, and customers. Additional details about the company culture can be gleaned from reviewing its online presence, and any potential employees will want to review this information while conducting their research.

  • Let them ask questions. You may feel you are doing a great job of presenting your organization’s culture throughout the interviewing and hiring process, but you might omit several things that are important to the applicant. Allowing them to ask questions throughout the interview, as opposed to just at the end, ensures that they get the full picture and have what they need to make the right career decision.

Consider Staffing Firms

As you can see, there are a number of factors to consider when hiring in a remote working environment. Many organizations can benefit from working with a staffing agency that understands how to successfully navigate this new working world. Here are a few of the advantages a staffing partner can bring to the table:

  • Staffing firms have experience in helping companies determine their short- and long-term staffing needs. They can help to tailor a staffing plan to meet an organization’s unique needs and goals, and make adjustments when rapid shifts are required.

  • Staffing firms can help your company balance the need for flexibility, the desire to attract qualified employees, and the overall budget. They can also save you time by doing all of the heavy lifting and pre-screening of candidates until they identify one who meets your criteria.

  • Many staffing firms also help to mitigate risk and save organizations money by managing HR requirements for consultants by taking on the management of payroll and benefits. 

Ultimately, staffing companies can help you identify the right employee faster, while still offering flexibility to meet your business’s changing needs. If your company is struggling with new hiring processes or seeking new ways to promote efficiency, reach out to us today to discuss how we can help to enhance your hiring process.