Traditional hiring practices are no longer effective, causing employers to try new methods for finding great staff

Rose Bak

Tired of Hiring Mediocre Staff? Use These Tips to Find the Best Employees -- Despite the Pandemic.
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

If you’re a manager struggling to fill open positions, you are not alone. COVID 19 social distancing protocols, teleworking and changes in the workforce have created a new challenge for supervisors looking to hire professional staff.

Hiring processes that worked great last year are no longer working, and in today’s pandemic business world everyone is searching for new ways to recruit and interview applicants. But how do you get a sense of the candidate when you can’t even meet them?

Here are some tips to help you find and hire the best candidates during the ongoing pandemic while keeping yourself and the applicants safe.

Include pandemic information in your advertising

People applying for jobs these days have a lot of questions about how you, as their potential employer, are protecting the health and safety of your workers. Questions may include:

Will the employee be required to come into the office? Will they be working exclusively from home? Will it be a combination? Will their schedule be flexible? Is there a technology stipend? Will they be issued company laptops? Will these things change when pandemic restrictions ease?

You may have applicants who want to work on-site while others need to work from home and adjust their schedule to accommodate their kids doing remote school.

Let applicants know upfront what to expect in order to save you both time. Ensure that you only get applicants who not only are able to meet your current workplace requirements but will be able to pivot when we move past the pandemic.

Expand your advertising beyond your usual sites

When you use online sites like Indeed and Monster, you often end up with a lot of applicants who are completing applications to comply with unemployment requirements. People randomly applying from out of state or turning in incomplete applications can be a huge waste of your recruitment time.

Include non-traditional options to increase your application pool of interested candidates. Some things to try:

  • Professional networking sites
  • Diversity networks
  • Local job training programs
  • Encouraging staff to share announcements with their networks
  • Referral bonuses

Consider job shares

Women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate as men right now. This is no surprise. Women are disproportionately impacted by the move to make schools remote. It’s difficult to work while you’re also managing a school schedule, helping kids access their online classes, and managing their self-directed study time.

While women who are also managing remote school may be hesitant to take a new full-time job, they may be interested in part-time work that they can schedule around what’s going on at home.

Advertise your positions as both full and part-time to expand your pool. Be clear that you are willing to hire two part-time candidates instead of one full-time person if the candidates are right. It’s a win-win all around: you fill the position with two qualified applicants and your new employees maintain their career path.

Conduct interviews via video

One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that many things we convinced needed to be done face-to-face can actually be done remotely. There’s really no reason for you to do in-person interviews, especially for the first interview, unless your interview includes some kind of in-person testing.

Video interviews are safer for you, your hiring panel, and your applicants. If the job you are hiring for is going to be partly or fully remote during the pandemic, the video interview will also give you an idea of the applicant’s ability to use technology and present a professional image once they are an employee. If your applicant shows up in a t-shirt with a beer can pyramid behind them, you’ll get some important information.

Make sure you set the expectation that your hiring panel will be fully present for the applicant. Just like they should not be answering emails or texts during a live interview, they should also maintain that same level of attention for video meetings.

Also, don’t forget to allow extra time in your interview schedule for internet snafus and breaks between applicants.

Be clear about how to participate in the interview

Doing interviews on video is new for most people. First of all, make sure they understand you are doing a video interview, not a live interview in your office. Don’t just assume people know how to access Zoom or log into your Microsoft Teams.

Send the applicants the meeting link and any required password well before the meeting, and let them know if your chosen video platform will require them to set up an account or download an app to join the meeting.

Encourage the applicant to access the interview via video rather than calling in, if possible. Let them know how long you have allotted for the interview, and how many people will be on the panel, so there are no surprises.

Send the interview questions out ahead of time

Interviews are stressful for just about everyone. Add in the tiny lags in video calls, sputtering internet connections, and lack of being able to read body language, and qualified applicants can easily be tripped up by or miss part of your questions. This can be even more difficult for applicants who speak English as their second language.

Let the applicant know that you will send the questions the day before, or even a few hours before, the interview so they can think about their answers and make sure they understand the whole question.

If it feels important to not give them any advance notice of the questions, at least post them on the screen so the applicant can read along as you ask the question. Or send most of the questions out ahead of time and add one or two bonus questions to see how they react in real-time.

Minimize participation from other panelists

Ask your hiring panel to introduce themselves, then mute their microphones. Have one person ask all the questions to minimize all the “I was on mute” back and forth.

It also helps the applicant focus on one person and keep on track. In a video call, there’s a tendency to move your eye from person to person to see who is talking or what people’s expressions are. That can be very distracting, especially if someone’s pet or kid pops up on the screen.

Ask panelists to use the chat function to alert you if they have a follow-up question or want clarification on an applicant’s response.

Be clear about the timeline

Everything seems to be moving at a slower pace during the pandemic. Let your applicant know your schedule and when they should expect to hear back. Build in an extra couple of days, just in case things get held up in the process.

Do reference checks by email

Many hiring managers appreciate the opportunity to discuss their applicants in a live conversation. The pandemic means that most people are away from the desks and they likely are checking voicemail messages less frequently. Email reference checks can be faster and also provides you with a written record of the feedback you received.

Use these tips to safely and effectively navigate the hiring process. Even if your workplace is not on full telework status, you can save some time and protect everyone’s safety by making the hiring process more virtual.

#pandemic #covid19 #business #supervision #management #hiring #humanresources

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Portland, OR

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