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Successful recruiting in the crisis

14/04/2020 2020/04

Staying successful even in a crisis and home office

The current corona crisis has had a major impact on numerous companies. Many companies have already sent their employees to the home office. There, they have to face their own unique challenges: technical equipment, digital communication with colleagues, team meetings via video chats, childcare and so on. For many companies, short-time work has also become an issue in order to survive the challenging times. However, the search for the right skilled workers must not be left by the wayside during this time, in order to remain competitive at the end of the crisis. In an interview with our colleague Tatjana Roth, we clarify some questions on this topic.

The Home Office offers applicants and recruiters new possibilities in working time management.

How are companies reacting to the crisis with their recruiting activities?

Digital recruitment processes are becoming increasingly important and the current situation shows this very clearly. If a large part or even the entire HR department works from home, it is essential that all data that is important for recruiting is available digitally and can be processed by everyone. Only in this way can we access important information and guarantee a smooth process. I would say that thanks to our ERP system Odoo, applicants do not notice whether we work from the office or from home. The difference lies only in the way interviews are conducted.

There are also candidate assessment methods. These are part of the process that an employer carries out to determine whether a candidate is suitable for a job. Various instruments can be used to assess candidates. On this basis, candidates are assessed in terms of their skills, knowledge, performance and style of behaviour. Candidate assessments can be designed differently depending on the position and range from personality tests, to work samples, to ability analyses. In addition to the classic interview, these methods help to determine whether a candidate fits the position and the company. The positive thing is that many of these methods can now also be carried out digitally. It is therefore definitely worth considering whether such online assessments should be introduced in the current situation, but also beyond.

Switching to virtual job interviews is probably the least challenge for companies. Microsoft teams, Skype for Business or other providers have been established for a long time and are now experiencing a boom in usage. Nevertheless, some companies are waiting for the situation to improve and therefore postpone meetings. I find that a great pity. Why not use the time to get to know candidates, draw attention to your company and at least prepare for the time after the crisis? Furthermore, some recruiters still rely on the personal interview and cannot make a decision without it. In my opinion, there is no need to wait and postpone. Virtual interviews offer a fantastic alternative to the personal interview and processes are not slowed down.

Will these methods continue to exist and expand after the crisis?

Many companies are currently "forced" to use various online tools and upgrade their HR processes digitally. I think this will take away the fear of digitalization for many companies and show tendencies that the current situation will definitely accelerate the digitalization of recruiting processes. Figures continue to show that a majority of companies will continue to maintain digital process steps in the future. This is what I would like to see for the future. Why not use this situation as an opportunity and continue to make use of the many digital possibilities we have? It will definitely take recruiting to a new level and simplify the process for applicants.

How is the crisis affecting the number of applicants?

My first thought was that the number of applications will definitely decrease. But it's not that clear. Depending on the company and the industry, the number of applications will remain about the same or will only fall slightly, as applicants want to take less risk in times of crisis by changing jobs, among other things. Some companies even expect an increase in the number of applicants, as candidates either enter the market due to job loss or use the time to seek a change.

How do candidates react to direct approaches in the current situation?

Interestingly, the response rate to my direct contacts, e.g. via Xing, has not increased recently. However, I have noticed that the candidates respond faster than before and are also available for telephone or video interviews at shorter notice. I suspect that this is due to the fact that there is currently simply more time available to spend in social media, as other leisure activities are no longer necessary or many people work in the home office and can manage their time more flexibly.

What should be considered during digital job interviews as a human resources manager?

Basically there is not much difference to the conversations I usually have. It still requires a quiet place and a prior discussion of the applicant profile and the position to be filled. So take notes about the candidate, prepare questions and structure the interview. What is now added is the need for a good telephone or Internet connection to ensure that the interview runs smoothly, as well as a dose of patience and calm nerves in case of any problems. Last but not least: It may sound banal, but I dress the way I would dress for a personal interview at the office. My counterpart may not necessarily see it, but it has a positive effect on my attitude and mood.

I wouldn't really change the way we talk either. It is especially important to behave and speak the way you would otherwise do in order to conduct a conversation that is as authentic as possible. Nevertheless, make small talk, give the applicant a rough outline of the interview, ask the same questions as usual and finally give an outlook on how to proceed. Don't be afraid to ask questions during a telephone interview, where you cannot see the person opposite you and therefore cannot see their facial expressions and gestures, if something is incomprehensible.

Proper clothing makes you look more confident and serious.

What should applicants pay attention to in digital job interviews?

The same applies here as well. Actually, not that much changes. Prepare for the interview as usual, by discussing the company and the job. Write down questions, prepare your application documents and stay calm. Here you can take advantage of the fact that the interview will take place in a familiar environment. This also eliminates the traffic jam or the search for the right building. So be punctual. Since the conversation will not take place in the office of the company, choose a quiet and preferably presentable corner in your apartment beforehand and make sure you have a good telephone or Internet connection.

Also very important here: Dress as you would for a personal interview. This will have a positive effect on your charisma and the effect on your counterpart. Especially in video interviews this is a must and definitely makes a more professional impression.

How does the circumstance home office affect the work of a recruiter?

Here it certainly depends on whether you have already gained experience in the home office or not. The biggest change is above all that all processes are no longer carried out in person, but digitally. Especially the HR department of companies usually lives from personal contact, direct exchange and close support of applicants and employees. In my opinion, however, a changeover to the home office is not a great challenge if a few points are observed and well prepared: These include good technical equipment, a planned work structure, defined working hours but also breaks, proactive communication (both with applicants but also, very importantly, with colleagues and specialist departments) and, above all, availability should be ensured. The current situation requires a change for all sides, both recruiters and applicants. However, a new and different approach does not necessarily have to be bad, just different, and we definitely have the means and opportunities to attract new employees to the company from home.

What are your recommendations for recruiting in times of crisis?

The key is to keep your finger on the pulse of time, to remain flexible and to embrace digital change. Of course, every company has to decide for itself whether the financial means as well as the orders are sufficient to hire new employees. If this is the case, it is important to keep up with the upswing and the drive of digitalisation. Applicants can also be interviewed via video interviews. For personal fit, team members can be brought in and there are various possibilities for online assessments. It is important to consider not only the current situation, but especially the time after the crisis. What capacities do I need as a company to be able to get back on track after the difficult times? This is where recruiting should also prepare in good time for the time after the crisis.

About the Author
Susanne Ackermann | Recruitment Consultant
Susanne Ackermann
Senior Recruitment Consultant

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