Hiring During the Pandemic: New Processes and New Traits to Look For

Written by: Amor Traceski  

In these times of economic struggle and uncertainty, employers are faced with multiple challenges in hiring the right people to fill their vacancies.  With so many people out of work, it may seem that hiring top quality candidates would be easy.  However, given required social distancing and other safety measures, recruiters have had to drastically adjust their recruiting processes.  Hiring managers are forced to think out-of-the-box to get a good sense of the applicants.  No more handshakes, office tours or getting-to-know-you lunches.  Creativity, patience and diligence are critical in ensuring you’re spending your resources on the right pick.  Look at the recruiting process as a form of investing.  The smart steps you take today will strengthen your employee base and further the success of your business post the COVID-19 outbreak.

Below is a 3-step overview of the recruitment process with simple strategies you can use to avoid losing out on top talent.

STEP 1:  Defining Job Requirements.  

Qualifications.

The pandemic introduced many new stressors to businesses so much so that hiring candidates who have experience or technical knowledge alone is not enough.  Make sure you hire those who possess positive character traits, as well, to help secure the stability of your business, moving forward.  Examples of positive character traits are:  adaptability, compassion, confidence, courage, empathy, flexibility, gratitude, judgment, optimism, patience, reliability and resilience.  

Work Schedule and Location.

Whether or not your employees can work remotely depends on your specific business needs.  Since social distancing and working from home has become the new norm, this is where you will need to weigh the pros and cons of the new workforce reality in order to stay ahead of the curve.  When you identify your ideal candidate, be open to negotiating work schedule and location, if necessary.  

STEP 2:  Sourcing Potential Candidates.  

With the applicant pool overflowing, how do you find and attract top talent?  Being creative in designing your advertisements to stand out from among your competitors is one way.  Highlighting perks of the job, e.g. employee discounts, training, free stuff, meals, etc. is another way.  Promoting a safe and healthy work environment with benefits like health insurance, flexible hours, training, etc. is yet another way.   During these turbulent times when human emotions are running high, emphasizing that you’re an employer who cares will go a long way to finding the right top talents who will want to be a part of your team.  

Find quality applicants by advertising in a variety of outlets, e.g.:

  • Online Job Boards, e.g. Indeed.com, Monster.com, Craigslist.org, Glassdoor.com, SimplyHired.com, CareerBuilder.com, etc.
  • Social Media Advertising on LinkedIn, Facebook Marketplace, Twitter (with a blog), Instagram, etc.
  • Print Advertising in local community newspapers, magazines, bulletin boards in coffee shops, cafes, churches and other public gathering places.
  • Referrals.  Word-of-mouth advertising, especially one that comes with a referral bonus, is a win-win situation.
  • Storefront Signs.  Communicating hiring vacancies with large, attractive signs, e.g. “Now Hiring!” along with perks, e.g. Great Benefits, Associate Discounts, Flexible Hours, etc. are definite attention grabbers.

Your Company’s Website.  How your website is designed is a reflection of you.  Make it speak to the kind of people you want as part of your team.  Also, think:  If you were looking for a job, would the website engage you and make you want to apply for a job there? 

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money.  But, if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.”                       

 Simon Sinek

                                                                                                              

STEP 3:  Interviewing Candidates. 

The Interview Process and Technology.

Whether it be using Zoom, Google Hangouts, RingCentral Meetings, Skype or other videoconferencing platforms, many employers have switched from traditional, in-person interviews to conducting virtual interviews.  The arrangement you choose should be based on what will enable you to match the holistic picture of the candidate to the role, as well as, what makes the most sense to your company.

Virtual interviews protect the health and safety of managers and candidates, allow for schedule and location flexibility and ultimately saves the company money.  Unfortunately, it can be challenging to fully assess a candidate through virtual interaction and there can be technical issues (connectivity, webcam, audio), as well.

In-person interviews allow for the ability to fully assess a candidate.  However, there is a greater health and safety risk to managers and candidates, which should be taken seriously.  If you determine that in-person interviews are necessary, it is recommended that you do so, after virtually vetting candidates down to only the top qualified potential hires.  

Below are best practices to ensure the safety of the candidate(s) and the interviewer(s) during in-person interviews:

  1. Provide Clear Instructions and Expectations, e.g. wear a mask, where to park, specific building entrance, etc.
  2. Follow Social Distancing Guidelines:
  • Ensure 6 feet of separation, wash hands properly, have hand sanitizer available.
  • Since shaking hands is not acceptable, think of a fun alternative, e.g. “air fist pump”, “air high-5”, etc.
  • Frequently disinfect touched surfaces, e.g. doorknobs tables, chairs, phones, countertops, switches, etc.
  1. Pre-Interview Health Screening:
  • Schedule candidates to come in 10-15 minutes before their interview for a health screening.
  • Take the candidate’s temperature.  (Note:  If he/she has a fever, immediately postpone the interview.)
  • Ask the following questions:
    • Have you recently traveled to an area with known local spread of COVID-19?
    • Have you come into close contact (within 6 feet) with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
    • Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, vomiting or diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell?

Note:  If the candidate answers “yes” to any of the above questions, postpone the interview.

“In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities:  integrity, intelligence and energy.  And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

Warren Buffett

In Conclusion

More important than adjusting to and enhancing new hiring experiences is getting the word out that you are an employer who cares.   All job seekers need to feel secure in knowing that their potential employer does look after its workforce.  Now is the time to build deeper connections.  So, what is your reputation as an employer?  Is your company’s culture a positive one?  In order to maintain and build stability in your business, moving forward, your answer should be, “YES!” 

About the author:

Amor Traceski

Amor Traceski is a Human Resources Consultant with over 20 years of experience in human resources management in various fields of industry.  She is also a motivational speaker, life coach and author of Been There, Done That: Practical Tips & Wisdom from Cancer Survivors for Cancer Patients.  

Learn more about Amor online at https://www.amortraceski.com/

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