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5 Ways Recruiting Teams are Adjusting to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Mike Joyner

Over the last several weeks, companies have been wrestling with how to respond to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). While it’s an extremely difficult time for everyone, we are inspired by the level of collaboration and support we’ve seen across our community of HR and Talent leaders.

We recently brought together recruiting leaders from over 30 companies all over the U.S. for a virtual Zoom community roundtable discussion. The companies represented were from different industries, locations, and stages of growth. If you’re interested in joining our next roundtable, you can reach us at

Our goal is to surface the rapidly emerging best practices as teams iterate on their recruiting processes in response to evolving company policies. We’re sharing what we learned in an effort to help others as we all work through these uncertain times together. Our resource guide is a collection of informative resources for recruiting leaders looking for guidance as well as notes from the roundtable discussion.

Conversations are shifting from being internally focused on helping keep employees safe to finding solutions for external audiences like candidates and new hires. We’ve seen a consistent progression in the conversation through these stages as leaders navigate the new data that emerges each day. It’s still early on as teams adapt, but here are the themes discussed in our community roundtable and how recruiting teams are responding to this next stage of challenges.

Five Adjustments Recruiting Teams are making to respond to COVID-19

1) Experimenting with virtual interviewing tools (coding, presentations, whiteboarding)
Some companies are taking the opportunity to re-evaluate the need for whiteboarding for certain interviews since it can be awkward even in person in some cases. Those that still rely on this for interviewing are starting to evaluate and experiment with these tools.

  • Coding:
    HackerRank CodePair (paid) — useful for coding interviews.
  • Presentations:
    Zoom with Webinar (paid) — teams are experimenting with additional features available in the add-on.
  • Whiteboarding:
    Free: AWWapp and Google Drawings. If you’re considering Drawings, keep in mind that your coordinators will need to generate a unique link each time.
    Paid: Google Jamboard and Invision Freehand.

2) Updating how they prepare interviewers for remote interviews
Teams are updating their communications to give hiring teams clear instructions on how to prepare for virtual interviews. For example, providing tips on common solutions to connectivity or technical issues and virtual meeting etiquette. Additionally, teams are shifting to deliver virtual and on-demand interviewer training like this example of Training 101: Conducting an Interview at Gitlab.

3) Redesigning a thoughtful candidate interview experience
Simple things can help your team nail a great candidate experience with virtual interviews. It’s important to be transparent and honest with candidates as teams are figuring things out. They are likely just as anxious as you are with the new format, and you can help by acknowledging this is new. It’s a moment to be more personal and less buttoned up. Let your culture shine through.

  • Send candidates guidance and instructions with steps to log into their interview and what to do to troubleshoot.
  • Share the recruiter or coordinators cell # in case there are issues.
  • Have someone from the recruiting or hiring team catch up with them at the start of the interview to greet and at the end to wrap up. This is a great time to get feedback on the process so you can iterate on things that are and aren’t working.
  • Setup the interview loop to keep a consistent video conference link, so candidate doesn’t have to switch for different interviewers.
  • Update hiring manager and candidate surveys to start tracking sentiment and feedback on virtual interviews.

4) Being creative with closing candidates
It’s natural that both candidates and hiring managers may have challenges making a decision without meeting in person. First, try to get to the source of concerns and be creative in addressing each of these concerns on both sides.

  • If the candidate is local and the hiring manager is supportive, it may be possible to have the hiring manager and candidate connect 1:1 outside of the office if it’s closed.
  • Create and send a video of your space or consider doing virtual office tours.
  • Hiring teams can record asynchronous videos on why the role is so important to the team or why they’re excited about this candidate joining. This could also be written. The goal is to make it personalized to the candidate you’re trying to close.
  • Invite the candidate to a virtual team stand-up meeting to hear from you and get a better sense of the team culture and how it operates.

5) Shifting to virtual onboarding
Your future teammates are in the middle of a career transition, which is stressful on its own. It’s important to remember that they’re having to navigate a new company, team, tools, AND all the disruption caused by the virus. Don’t forget to over-communicate during this time and help them make early connections to ramp up with your company.

  • Onboarding buddies are an option to quickly get new teammates rooted into the team by sharing organizational context and helping figure out those final details on setting up company tools necessary to be productive.
  • New hire orientations are moving to virtual channels. Content is being recorded and facilitated through video conferencing tools like Zoom.
  • IT teams are setting up and shipping laptops to new employees’ homes.
  • Teams are considering temporary shifts to I-9 verifications that rely on bank notaries with detailed instructions or ‘authorized representatives’ like spouses or roommates.

These are definitely challenging times for all of us, but sometimes necessity is the mother of invention — it may force us to innovate new ways of working together and move toward a style of recruiting that we never would have otherwise embarked upon.

Growth by Design Talent helps early & mid-stage high growth companies design talent strategies to help them scale quickly and thoughtfully.

Image: Generic image used to respect confidentiality and people keeping it real at home.
Generic image used to honor confidentiality and those keeping it real at home.

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