If there is one thing that the current pandemic of COVID-19 has taught us, it is that the show must go on. The world is following social distancing, implementing lockdowns and restricting travel. In this scenario, organisations are finding new ways to carry their operations as usual. This situation has brought several recruiter challenges to the already high-pressure job of recruitment. Hiring has traditionally been a high-human-interaction job and thrives on face-to-face conversations.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, recruitment will slow down in some industries. However, online shopping giants, retail stores, technology and healthcare will see a spike in their hiring numbers. In other sectors, recruiters may still have to close the open positions. They may still have to prepare a pipeline for critical positions.
This phase of COVID-19 is also a good time for leaders to reset their recruitment functions. It is an opportunity when they can prepare their teams to work in a virtual environment. It will help the teams to traverse the physical boundaries and even lower the costs in the long run. Moreover, it will bring more flexibility to the hiring process and engage more candidates.
Let’s look at a possible action plan that recruitment functions can adapt to manage recruitment challenges.
Prioritise the tasks at hand
The COVID-19 pandemic was so sudden that nobody could prepare for it. Organisations had to move their operations to the virtual environment almost overnight. Recruiters can manage the situation effectively by targeting the immediate tasks at hand. For instance, they can prioritise the candidates who are set to join shortly. As the future is still unclear, holding their onboarding to an indefinite time is also not an option. Moreover, there must be candidates who were far ahead in the interviewing process. The line managers could still be keen on hiring and onboarding them at the earliest.
Leaders can enhance the output of their recruitment functions by addressing these recruitment challenges.
Equip the recruiters to work from home
If the recruiters have never worked from home before, they may not be prepared to do so. To begin with, they may not have the right wifi setup and other tools. A few companies are offering allowances to address such recruitment challenges. The team leaders can share tutorials to help the recruiters maintain their productivity when working from home. They can also ask the recruiters to take breaks as the boundaries between personal and professional life may start to blur.
The time also demands organisations to be sensitive to the needs of their employees. For instance, recruiters may have children at home who may need attention during the day. The team leaders can offer time slots so that they can give equal attention to their personal needs.
Lastly, recruiters thrive on human interaction and conversations. This sudden lull of activity and social distancing can get to them. The team leaders can encourage their teams to stay connected. Apart from frequent calls, offline IM thread, sharing personal pictures, virtual pizza parties can help in engaging the team.
Conducting video interviews
One of the main recruitment challenges is moving to video interviews. Recruiters and line managers are used to meeting candidates in person for most hiring positions. It is during these interviews that they have evaluated candidates and made their hiring decisions in the past. They are not going to be comfortable with virtual hiring overnight.
In light of this, recruiters may have to unlearn and relearn a few aspects of interviewing. Team leaders can start by encouraging recruiters to take an empathetic approach. All the rules of in-person interviews may not apply for video interviews. There are good chances that candidates are also not comfortable with the distance. Moreover, they may not have a disturbance-free environment for interviews. With a sensitive outlook, recruiters can resolve these challenges more efficiently.
The team leaders can also share the best practices of video interviews with their teams. Additionally, the recruiters can be encouraged to share their learnings on a common platform. Apart from engaging them, it will help in fostering a long-term virtual hiring culture in the organisation.
Work closely with hiring managers
Building better relationships with hiring managers is a crucial part of a recruiter’s life. The new situation of COVID-19 demands them to collaborate even more than before. Hiring managers may not be comfortable with interviewing people remotely. They may need hand-holding and some encouragement from the recruiters.
Hiring managers can also play a crucial role in the acceptance of offers. Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, candidates may not be willing to leave their current jobs. The hiring managers can take them in confidence and assure them of job security.
In the absence of walk-in interviews and job fairs, volume recruitment can add to recruiter challenges. COVID-19 may have also affected the plans of visiting campuses for hiring freshers. Even if the organisations cut these numbers by half, the recruiter could still be up against a huge challenge. They may have to spend several days doing what could have been achieved in one or two days. Moreover, their follow-ups and manual tasks can increase by manifolds.
To overcome these problems, leaders can evaluate technology-powered tools. For instance, recruitment chatbots can substantially reduce the efforts of recruiters. Moreover, they can enhance the output of the hiring process, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Recruiters have to spend a lot of time answering calls and queries of candidates. Recruitment chatbots can be programmed to manage these questions. Their most useful feature is that they can be used to conduct the first level of assessment. Recruiters can feed interview questions into the chatbots. As the candidates apply to the open position, the chatbots will administer the questions. Impress’s recruitment chatbot is an intuitive platform. Many organizations use the platform for remote recruitment and for creation of virtual graduate recruitment experiences.
Positive candidate experience
Maintaining a good candidate experience is one of the recruiter’s challenges that need priority during COVID-19. In-person meetings can have positive influences on the candidate. However, at a time when every conversation is going to be virtual, it is going to be hard.
The fundamental rules of a positive candidate experience will remain the same. There could be some candidates who would have entered the recruitment funnel just before this pandemic. It is advisable to inform them of any changes in your hiring plans. The recruiters can ensure a positive experience by adapting an empathetic approach. For instance, overlook the appearances of kids or pets during the interview.
These simple steps may seem unnecessary now but will reap results in the long run.
A survey by Glassdoor found that positive onboarding experience can improve retention by 82%. Maintaining the same level of onboarding experience is going to be challenging in these times. However, there are a few steps that the recruiters can take to deliver the best in this situation.
- Ensure that the IT accesses, usernames, emails etc. are configured before the day of joining.
- A new employee is going to have several queries and will need resources to understand the processes and systems. The recruiters can assign mentors who can help the employees in this regard.
- Recruiters can organise virtual events like one-day video-conferences. It can help in giving a virtual experience of the organisational culture. The recruiters can manage the first few days by arranging calls with team leads and inter-departmental colleagues.
- To give a view of the organisational culture, recruiters can use story-telling. New employees get to experience the culture through casual conversations and professional interactions in the office. In the absence of these, recruiters can use several incidents to weave stories around the company’s culture.
Upskill the recruiters
What will the recruiters do if your organisation has implemented a hiring freeze? It is a valid question that many leaders will be asking themselves.
If the leaders see the business picking up in the next few months, they can utilise the recruiters for workforce planning. The recruiters can have detailed conversations with the line managers and evaluate their future needs.
Besides, it is a good time for the recruiters to upskill themselves. Leaders can encourage recruiters to take courses. For instance, data analysis, behavioural interviews and story-telling can help them to become the masters of their profession.
COVID-19 has resulted in an unpredictable situation. The real impact will come to the surface after things have settled down. Organisations will have to reassess their hiring systems and processes to take a more empathetic approach. It will be a good time to assess how technology can empower and resolve recruiter challenges.
Leaders can also use the current experience as a test-run for virtual hiring. They can understand the bottlenecks and brainstorm ideas for adopting remote hiring as a standard practice.