Interviewing and recruiting during a pandemic

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The number of companies around Australia and New Zealand transitioning to a “work from home” arrangement is increasing by the day. It is looking increasingly likely that social distancing measures will increase like what we have seen around the world, in order to slow the spread.
 
This unprecedented situation has an obvious economic effort on the world, however for many companies the show must go on. For many businesses this will mean moving their hiring processes online. So how can you do this effectively, and ensure you are not missing out on the best talent or compromise your recruitment process?

Avoiding face to face interviews

The most immediate change that we are already seeing begin is companies abandoning the face to face interview. This can be a worrying change for many employers; however, it is fast becoming the norm for many businesses regardless of a worldwide pandemic.
interviewingandrecruitinginpandemic | Teamrecruit
The downsides of this process are obvious, but the positives are more hidden and less considered. Ditching the face to face interview brings candidates from out of town, interstate or perhaps even overseas onto the same level playing field as local candidates. This can mean an increase in the pool of candidates that you can choose from.
 
Other positives include the increased speed in which you can conduct interviews with candidates without the complexity of syncing availability and organising a face to face interview – being quicker than your competitor can be the difference in securing the best candidate.
 
So how do you get the most out of an online recruitment process and ensure you don’t compromise your typical standards? Our team has provided some valuable tips that we hope will assist.

Conduct a brief phone interview as your first point of contact

Video interviews can have technical issues and frustrations that you don’t ordinarily encounter with face to face interviews. Defaulting to a video interview as your first step will result in a greater level of frustration than you need to put yourself through.
 
Conducting a brief phone interview for 15-30 minutes at the first stage will allow you to rule out any candidates that don’t match your specific requirements. During this process you can discuss availability with your favoured candidates for a phone interview in the coming days.

Setting up a video interview

Video interviewing is the next best thing to having the candidate right there in the office. It allows you to review body language and to build rapport with a potential new hire.
 
There are many providers of video conferencing services, and if you don’t have an ongoing need or large volume requirements there are some great free options.
 
Zoom – Zoom is a US based video conferencing company that has a free product that will most likely suit your needs. It has free unlimited 1 to 1 video conferencing and is available on mobile devices (iOS & Android) as well as PC/Mac. You can even record the session locally (with the attendee’s permission of course) as well for future reference. And candidates don’t need an account to join a meeting, which means it’s quick and easy for them!
 
Facetime – With around 37% of the Australian smartphone market, Apple’s Facetime is a quick and easy way to conduct a video interview, provided both parties have an iOS device. But with Android having a sizable chunk of the market, a cross-platform product might be more suited.
 
Google Duo or WhatsApp – If you’d like to be able to standardise your video conferencing methods across multiple devices (iOS/Android/PC/Mac), Google Duo and WhatsApp are both good options. They allow for registration with just a mobile number and you can be underway very quickly.
 
Skype – In the past, Skype was the go-to for video interviews – mainly because there wasn’t much else! Sadly, ease of use for attendees is not as simple as it is on other platforms and out of all the platforms, this is the one we have the most issues in using. Our recommendation is to look elsewhere for simpler video conferencing.

Conducting the video interview

Conducting the video interview provides a unique set of challenges that you do not experience during a face to face interview. Being on top of these will ensure a smoother interview and allow you to have a positive experience.
 
Set up in a quiet location as if you were conducting a normal interview. We would recommend conducting the interview in a conference room or office.
 
Set the camera up in a stable position ensuring the camera is not susceptible to movement. Movement can cause the sound to drop in and out and creates a disjointed interview. It is also to ensure the camera is at eye level and provides a good angle for the person on the other end.
 
Ensure all decision makers are in on the interview. Video interviewing can be confronting for a candidate who has not experienced it before so you want to ensure the process will go as smoothly as possible. By ensuring all decision makers are present on the original video interview, you will minimise your need for multiple interviews.
 
Conduct a virtual tour of the dealership. Once your interview is complete and if you believe the candidate will be shortlisted for the next stage of the recruitment process, pick up your phone or laptop and take them on a virtual tour of the dealership. This won’t be perfect, but it certainly is better than nothing! Candidates always appreciate the opportunity to see what they are applying for.

Plan for a future commencement, and communicate delays

Planning for a start date a few weeks into the future can be a difficult undertaking considering the fluidity of the current situation. Keeping up constant and consistent communication will be key to ensuring your new employee remains engaged.
 
Your new employee may want to give a shorter or longer noticed period to their current employer, depending on how the pandemic is affecting them. Be flexible with this and try to accommodate their needs. This is a tricky and completely new situation to everyone involved, so be as understanding as possible.
 
As your new employee may be impacted by the pandemic, so could you, as the employer. Communicate any delays effectively and explain the reasoning behind them. If your new employee understands your issues and concerns, they will likely be more accommodating and happier to wait. Again, open, honest and consistent communication is key in a situation like this.
 
With just a few adjustments to your interviewing process, you can still meet with and appraise potential staff during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The virus will stop. Australia and New Zealand will bounce back.
 
When we do, will you be fighting your competitors to secure the best talent, or will you already be ahead of the pack?
 
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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