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Hiring Safely During the Coronavirus

Why people are hiring People Ops
Lionseye insights from AC Lion

The coronavirus is a part of our professional lives now, with its influence even slowing down some of the world’s most elite companies. Even giants like American Airlines are implementing a hiring freeze. If your company is like most others, you can’t afford to slow down for long. This includes the hiring process. The show must go on, even if your best candidates are shuttered in their homes unable or unwilling to come out. You need a safe yet effective process to keep the talent flow moving in your organization. Fortunately, we live in an age of technology that makes this entirely possible.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can actually streamline your hiring process using the coronavirus as a catalyst for positive change.

Sourcing Elite Talent:

Good talent inflow comes from good talent outreach. Most companies are doing this more effectively than the later steps in this process, because the positive effects for doing it are well-known even in a quiet economy. Most hiring managers understand that coordinating a hiring round through LinkedIn gets a better crop of candidates than putting ads in the local newspaper. There are a few things you can do to optimize the process even more.

  • Improve your messaging. You can bet that online job postings will saturate in the coming months. The few laggards who weren’t using digital job boards will quite certainly start now. Your edge is in your messaging. Fast food front line positions notwithstanding, you are not going for the biggest pool of candidates. You want the most qualified people in your queue. One way to do this is by creating brutally honest, highly specific job descriptions. The coronavirus will spike layoffs. We are moving into a buyer’s market. State exactly what you want in your online description, and you will probably get it.
  • Choose your platforms well. Outreach on Facebook gets you a completely different crop of people from outreach on LinkedIn. You can start your research using the annual statistics on social media use from Pew Research. Also, consider industry specific job boards. Many of these are under the radar even to insiders, so you may want to connect with a digital recruitment specialist to save time and money here.
  • Empower your employees. The best candidates for your new positions often come as word-of-mouth referrals from your current employees. If they are also on the other side of your company’s social media communications, you start the hiring process on the right foot. Employees know the best ways to communicate with their peers – the right hashtags to use, the right descriptions of company culture – and they also know where the more passive candidates are hiding. 
  • Host candidate events online. With your current employees empowered, you will have an inside track on the kind of online events that will appeal to quality candidates. 
  • Analyze your results. Coronavirus or no coronavirus, no candidate outreach process will be perfect from its inception. Take a hard look at what is bringing in quality and what is lagging. Test different platforms, including their paid options. You may also look to a qualified recruitment partner to skip a lot of the trial and error here.

Trimming the Herd:

Automating the résumé filtering process through a proven applicant tracking system is a great way to save time and effort before engaging candidates directly. This automation may come through delegation to a recruitment partner or through an online system. Online systems use keywords to locate the résumés that have a high likelihood of relevance to your job posting. A partner adds the experienced eyes of human recruiters to keep the diamonds in the rough from falling through the cracks.

Making use of online question templates is a great way to save time and get some great information from candidates while keeping the process safely online. Asking the right questions is incredibly important here. Ideally, you are looking to showcase more of your company culture while encouraging truthful answers, leaving little room for candidates to curry favor. Digital brown nosing is a bit easier for prospects on these questionnaires, because you cannot monitor their body language or tone. There is a way to get around this, however. Read on to learn about how you can use video interviews embedded within questionnaires to simulate more of a face-to-face interaction while also testing a candidate’s technical skills.

Assessment tests are an alternative to the open-ended questionnaire, especially if you are hiring for a position with strict guidelines for success. Again, choosing the appropriate test for the position is key. You may need to have candidates submit multiple tests if you are hiring for a higher-level position. Be careful, however, that you do not scare off high-level candidates by subjecting them to tests that they consider rudimentary. You may want to stick to tests that assess the soft skills of execution and delegation, filtering out unqualified applicants earlier through a more stringent round of automation. Logic tests, personality tests and behavioral tests are less likely to offend. However, they are also easier to brown nose. Pay special attention during the interview to ensure that the person you are speaking with matches the person on (digital) paper.

Scheduling an Interview:

While you are digitally transforming your hiring process, you may as well save time in the scheduling process as well. There is no need to play phone tag with the candidates you choose after the initial rounds of hiring are done. Make use of easy online scheduling programs that allow your chosen prospects to pick a time on your preferred calendar with a few clicks. The best of these packages integrate directly and fully into your email client, delivering the completed task into your inbox and alerting you via mobile phone if that is what you are looking for.

Keep in mind that candidates may have unexpected emergencies during this time of crisis. A missed interview is usually grounds for immediate dismissal of the application, but we are not in usual times. Consider family emergencies as valid during the coronavirus scare so that you don’t mistakenly miss out on a genuine candidate – extra points for those candidates who showcase an ability to plan ahead and communicate well during a high-level crisis. More than any individual skill, this levelheadedness is what you will need in new hires during the next few months of the coronavirus scare.

The Wonder of Videoconferencing:

A great deal of business is conducted through videoconferencing these days. Social distancing also increases the need for team members who can conduct business through vidcon tech. Conducting your interviews through the same medium shows you how a potential candidate might perform when placed in the same circumstance when under your employ. Obviously, you also save yourself and your candidate the need to put each other in harm’s way through unnecessary contact with the outside world!

If you plan on increasing your work-from-home workforce (which you may want to consider), you also need to ensure your new hires know how to navigate an industry standard videoconferencing platform. You may want to list Slack, Zoom, HuddleCam, et al. as necessary skills in your job posting. Savvy applicants will understand what you are getting at, and you are likely to attract a better crop of potentials.

If you want to separate the wheat from the chaff even earlier in the process, you may require your applicants to record a video in place of a cover letter or as a response to a series of interview questions. This saves you the trouble of direct contact with candidates until the second round of hiring, and it also shows you with more certainty who already knows their way around a videoconferencing camera. Note the quality of the video as well, especially those smaller companies that may rely on candidates to maintain their own camera and Internet connection for the sake of doing business. If a candidate turns in a lower quality video, it is a tell that their home setup may not be right for what you need.

At the same time, make sure that your business presents well on video! Elite talent always has choices when it comes to employment. If you come across as too much of a technical noob, top candidates may assume that your company culture is antiquated as well. This is especially true for new hires in the tech space. You also want to make sure that the video conference is conducted in front of a welcoming background. Although you are looking for remote workers, your background speaks to that all-important company culture you need to attract and keep today’s top talent. If you are interviewing from home, make sure you are in an area that is professional and quiet. You don’t want your neighbor’s dogs making the conversation annoying and scaring off a great candidate for no reason.

Some of our greatest advancements come from necessity. If you are having trouble filling out your workforce because of the social distancing brought on by the coronavirus, don’t fight the flow of business. Use hiring technology to your advantage and show your current workforce just how inventive the business can be in hard times.

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital recruiting agency, AC Lion International, and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. For over 20 years, AC Lion has been the trusted provider of revenue generating talent in the digital and technology landscape. Our reach spans from innovative venture-backed startups to enterprise level organizations. AC Lion is a proud member of the Lionseye Group, a collective of brands furthering talent acquisition through Venture Capital, HR Technology and Thought Leadership.