Coronavirus (COVID-19), Recruiting

Should You Suspend Hiring During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

United Airlines recently announced that it will be implementing a hiring freeze through June in light of the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the United States. Part of its decision stems from the fact that many travelers have suspended their plans, resulting in less air traffic, and therefore, there isn’t as high of a demand for new employees when business is down.


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As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the nation, it leaves us wondering: Should all employers suspend their hiring process until the virus has run its course? At the very least, you should definitely refrain from the celebratory handshake when a candidate accepts the job offer.

You can also adopt the same process Google is using to fulfill its hiring needs: Do it virtually! At a time when online recruiting is being so heavily adopted, this seems to be the most logical choice, as most of the recruiting process is done via phone calls and e-mail communication.

If you’re looking to avoid human contact in the wake of the coronavirus, we’ve got a few tips for taking your recruiting process solely online.

Candidate Outreach

While job fairs are a great place to source top talent, if you’re trying to avoid face-to-face communication, online communication options are the route you should go. These days, more and more recruiters are turning to online methods to source and connect with potential candidates. Seeing as a vast majority of jobseekers are online, that’s your best bet for finding top talent. But where can you search?

Start with social media! LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the most popular social media platforms, and if you tailor your messaging just right, you’ll be sourcing talent in no time! Here are a few tips to get started with social media recruiting:

  • Set up a specific feed for job posts if you have frequent vacancies to fill.
  • Utilize social media functions to allow quick access to the application process.
  • Ensure the individuals responsible for social media response are incredibly quick when responding to candidate inquiries.
  • Use social media tools like hashtags to draw attention to the organization when appropriate.
  • Encourage employees to be active on social media. They may be able to forward job openings to their network, for example.
  • Consider hosting online events via social media platforms to encourage candidate interaction with the organization. (If you use this option, troubleshoot the entire process, and do practice runs to ensure it goes smoothly. Test on multiple platforms and devices before going live.)
  • Consider using the various paid options offered by different social media platforms to host and/or boost a job post. This may include advertising or other specific job post functionalities.
  • Ensure your social media pages are optimized to be found in search results.
  • Use social media platforms to seek out and proactively reach out to passive candidates.
  • Utilize the data analytics tools that social media sites provide to help tailor your posts to garner more interaction.

To learn even more about social media recruiting, check out this recap from Kristin Dudley’s RecruitCon 2018 preconference session, “Growing Your Online Presence: How to Build Out Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy.”

Conducting Interviews

After you’ve found the perfect candidates, interviewing them comes next. Traditionally, most companies start with a phone screen, and if the person seems to fit the mold, he or she is called in for a face-to-face interview. At times like these, conducting in-person interviews may have your recruiters and hiring managers on edge, but with technology, it doesn’t have to be that way!

You may be wondering whether candidates even want to conduct interviews virtually, but according to Amy Warner, Director of talent acquisition at iCIMS—in the new guide, Keep Your Business Running with Virtual Hiring—candidates are receptive to this method. “Candidates really appreciate the opportunity to interview from a place that is convenient for them,” she says. “There’s a strong sense of candidate appreciation when you show concern for their schedule, health, or family situation. It doesn’t have to be a major disruption to implement virtual screening—they are always useful as an employer and for the candidate.”

Additionally,  Irene DeNigris—Chief People Officer at iCIMS—offers this tip for recruiters and hiring managers looking to utilize video interviews: “Don’t lose the human connection with video. You can still assess facial expressions and levels of engagement when speaking virtually to candidates. It’s just an easier way to connect in today’s world.” Conducting virtual interviews doesn’t require too much technology, either. So long as your computer has a web camera, or your cell phone has FaceTime or Skype-like features, you can get the job done. And new technologies continue to pop up in the world of online recruiting.

LinkedIn is now offering interviewing capabilities via its Talent Hub platform. This new benefit allows users to interview candidates anytime, anywhere; assess coding, writing, speaking, and soft skills; and even verify the authenticity of candidates through secure proctoring. Instead of assessing candidates in-house, you can do everything online!

Additionally, even scheduling interviews can be done online! No more playing phone tag or waiting for a candidate to get out of work before calling you back to schedule an interview. Now candidates can access your calendar via a variety of Web-based applications to pick a date and time that works best for them.

If you want to scrap the interview in some cases, you can also ask candidates to submit a project-based assessment. In lieu of an interview, for some roles, it may be appropriate to ask candidates to provide a completed project, the requirements of which are created and detailed in advance by the hiring company. This shows the individual’s skills upfront and tells you a lot about the applicant by how he or she approaches the entire project. (This can be applied in various ways for different types of roles.)

One last strategy to try is to, again, scrap the interview and head straight for the assessment portion of the hiring process. While this step may or may not negate the need for an in-person interview, the idea is to shake up the recruiting process by going to assessment testing immediately rather than waiting until you have a candidate (or shortlist) in mind.

This stage may include skills-based tests, logic tests, behavioral tests, personality tests, etc. The potential benefit here is that the employer may discover there are more qualified candidates for the role than it would have thought; some applicants may excel at all of the necessary assessments, even though those same individuals may have been overlooked if the traditional recruiting path had been followed.

While coronavirus fears continue to plague the United States, it’s time to start looking into technology-based aspects of the hiring process. As the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, you’ll at least be ahead of the curve when we all go fully digital!

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