Four Things That Do Not Change for Talent Acquisition During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Video Interview

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought a lot of considerations to the table in a very short period. It’s a health concern, a business concern, and a travel concern and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. While companies spend time in their ‘war rooms’ making important decision about customer, vendor and employee interactions, there is an important audience that requires your focus and planning as well. Candidates.

The candidate experience has likely been mapped out and refined by your talent acquisition team and is both an art and a science. Representing your brand from the very first interaction, through interviews and onboarding is all about the relationship. In the turbulent times we have ahead of us it becomes even more important to bring your candidate experience to life, even if it’s done from afar. As you think about your strategy to keep the hiring engines on and bring in the talent your organization needs for the future, here are four key elements of the experience that should not change during any crisis.

  1. Communication. You will need to communicate in new ways and through different channels, but do not let your touchpoints or interaction with candidates go quiet! It’s even more important now to stay connected through phone, video, text, chat, or carrier pigeon – whatever you use as your remote tool. Consider doubling your efforts to reassure candidates your hiring engine is not going to be turned off during this period.
  • Set Clear Expectations. In your communication, one area to be clear, consistent, and sure about are expectations. If your company has suspended all travel and banned visitors to your office, that is a reasonable business move at this moment. Not telling candidates that you’ve made this move is not! If you had shared with a candidate that they will eventually be invited in for an in-person interview and that can’t happen anymore, be clear about the contingency plan, if the hiring will be paused based on the nature of the role, and when you will take a next step.
  • Keep Interviewing. Video interviewing is not new – but not every company is using it. You don’t need a fancy tool, it can be any two-way video chat that you use to establish a visual connection to your candidates. If you do have a video interviewing tool in place, you can continue to scale your hiring efforts and build a talent pipeline – but make sure you keep #1 and #2 at the forefront of your efforts. If you are not entering a hiring freeze, talent acquisition teams should continue as much of their usual operation as possible.
  • Be Ready. Recruiters are the face of your company for most candidates. Arming them with the latest updates, decisions, business impacts, and positive steps your company is taking during this crisis is very important. Much like you would share a new product release, award, or new executives named at the company, updates about your safety and productivity efforts should be available for Recruiters to share with candidates who will likely have questions about how your organization is protecting employees, the financial impact that might change the company’s outlook, or leading efforts to keep communities safe.

It’s a daunting time to worry about your health and the health of those you care about. While the Coronavirus is said to be riskier for those with existing health issues, the spread of it is alarming for many and it is a very hot topic in the media. There are complexities from manufacturing and retail roles that are only done in person, to trying to work in new ways to get a sense for who someone is in more corporate roles without being able to meet them. Companies are asking candidates if they feel comfortable coming to a business location for interviews knowing there might be some risk and both sides trying to navigate the pros and cons in the effort of having the best matched talent in each role.

Through all the uncertainty and differing opinions on what the best approach forward is, remember that the candidate experience must remain top of mind. It is your differentiator and how you treat candidates now will impact your ability to hire for the foreseeable future. If you don’t know the answer to timelines, travel guidance, or your office policies are in flux right now, that’s OK! Many companies are making decisions every day in real time as new information comes to light. Communicating badly, not being clear about expectations, stopping your talent acquisition engines, and keeping your Recruiters in the dark is not OK!

I for one, like many of you… may feel we are in that weird “I don’t know what the future might look like” mode… I feel as if it is vaguely familiar to the time immediately after 9/11, when we all sort of felt like life had changed—and we had no clear vision on what the future would behold, and for that moment, the future was scary.  It’s not quite the same situation… but eerily familiar. We need to put it all in perspective.

Many locations may be in a state of emergency for the foreseeable future. It is not a place any of us want to be in – but we are – so we have to make sure we keep focused on engaging with candidates to show them that regardless of any external factor, that your company is great place to be.

Stay healthy!

Jeremy M. Eskenazi, SPHR CMC

Jeremy Eskenazi, is the Managing Principal of Riviera Advisors, Inc.

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