After an extremely active legal job market in 2019 and an equally great start to 2020, we hit a mammoth roadblock with the COVID-19 pandemic. Scheduled interviews quickly went from in-person to video or phone to being canceled altogether. Employees began working remotely and within a week, office buildings were empty and Zoom and other video platforms were commonplace.
Video Interviews are the Norm for Now
Recruiters and Hiring Managers began relying heavily on video interviewing. While tools like Hangouts, Zoom or GoToMeeting are convenient and get the job done, they’re better suited for video conferencing. And it’s difficult to replicate an in-person meeting, which is considered by many as a crucial step in hiring.
As recruiters, we have clients ask us on a regular basis, “have you met this candidate in person”? Hiring Managers are often interested in hearing about their personality, demeanor, energy, eye contact and general interaction. Again, can be hard to convey those traits via video.
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Onboarding is Changing Just as Much as the Interview Process
Speaking to hiring managers in early May, the need to fill jobs they were working on pre-pandemic still exist. But onboarding a new hire while employees are working remotely is unchartered waters. Many employers consider onboarding a vital part of the new employee’s experience. Lunch with colleagues during the first week, learn about the company’s culture, the softball team, get to know people you will be working with daily. Not to mention training – possibly the most difficult part of the equation to figure out.
Also, a new part of the interview process will be determining how well you’ve done and will continue to do working remotely. This can include “tell me about your day” or “how do you run your day?” The answers to a prompt like that may reveal how disciplined and self-directed a person is, how flexible he or she may be, qualities that may serve the company well while working remotely.
Full-time Work and Salaries are Being Scaled Back
Some firms will want to begin looking at candidates very soon after we are back to work. Consequently, a solid pipeline of talent prospects is still necessary. Some employers may have imposed a hiring freeze during the pandemic, an established pipeline ensures a smooth rebound when recruitment resumes. Many of these businesses will be significantly affected, creating lay-offs and furloughs. This will organically create a larger candidate pool, more contract/ gig work and potentially a drop in salaries.
Moving forward, the results on long-term effects of virtual hiring and working remains to be seen. Although many businesses have begun a partial reopening, the possibility of periodic lockdowns and reduced capacity in public spaces extending through the end of the year. New job descriptions and postings should clearly explain the scope of telecommuting. Inform candidates if there will be instances of work travel throughout their tenure (i.e. needing to go to HQ for evaluations or meetings, travel to meet clients).
How Companies are Approaching In-office Positions
Some jobs are impossible to do remotely. When hiring for an in-office/on-site role, the job description should state that the company follows all cleaning and social distancing protocols instituted by public health authorities. Communicate what the business does to protect employees and minimize the risk to them. These assurances build trust in the company from potential employees, aiding talent attraction and retention and making it more likely for strong candidates to follow through the entire recruitment process.