Recruiting in a Pandemic
By: Luke Myer
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the world we live in, and recruiting is no different. It is in many ways easier to interview, but much harder to ultimately attract top talent to a new firm in this environment. Below we will talk about how the process has been impacted and strategies to drive successful outcomes.
With most professionals currently working from home, being able to interview over video conference without having to invent phony dentist appointments or travel to another firm’s offices midday has broken down some barriers for individuals to have exploratory conversations. On one hand this has opened a wider pipeline of talented candidates, but on the other hand, this has lessened the sense of true engagement for candidates in an interview process. The ease of interviewing today has made the initial ‘flirting’ stage of recruitment much easier.
However, without the tangible effects of seeing a company’s offices and being in a room with an interviewer, candidates can lose the sense of comfort that comes with those physical touchpoints. When recruiting someone who is in a good seat without any “push factor” causing them to look at jobs outside their organization, the calculation for joining a new company can become that much riskier due to the unknown.
Additionally, without the ability to grab a coffee or dinner, opportunities to persuade a candidate over the finish line are diminished. As a result, we have seen an increase in candidates who will take a first meeting but have also seen a marked rise in finalist candidates turning down offers or being successfully bid back by their employer. It is vital to understand a candidate’s true level of interest earlier in a process because of the decreased ability to close them at the end. Hesitancy early on shouldn’t rule a candidate out, but it cannot be overlooked and warrants further examination.
Therefore, it is imperative to put your best foot forward and maintain contact with one, or ideally two, other candidates you would be comfortable hiring in case the lead candidate ultimately declines. We have found expiring offers (ideally around seven days) to be effective in moving processes toward a conclusion because even if the preferred candidate declines an offer, this allows an organization to extend an offer to another candidate without too much time passing.
Once a candidate becomes an employee, the challenges of remote work start in earnest. Without the ability to bring new team members along to meetings or mingle with coworkers in the office, it is more challenging to incorporate them into your company’s culture and workflow. Maintain consistent touchpoints, perhaps standing video calls, with leadership and the new hire to talk through challenges as they arise, instead of allowing them to fester in isolation. When thinking of onboarding, be proactive in managing a new hire, as navigating an organization without guidance is an extremely challenging task.
In summation, while the pandemic can bring more people to the table, candidate care and maintaining consistent touchpoints throughout what can be a protracted search process is vital to driving successful outcomes. Communication is key from start to finish and make sure to not put all of your eggs in one basket.