By Hari Viswanathan
With the coronavirus pandemic working its way through the United States, many employers are re-evaluating their hiring plans and processes. The reality is that frontline workers are essential to our country’s response to COVID-19, and their work cannot be put on hold. The United States is facing an unprecedented threat in the form of a faceless, nationless enemy that targets everyone regardless of race, nationality, or descent. The only way to confront this threat is by making sure our nation’s manufacturing and transportation industries are able to make the essential supplies needed to support our medical personnel, keep our populace fed, and strengthen our supply chains.
From delivery professionals bringing supplies to people’s homes to manufacturing associates making face masks and hand sanitizer, it's more critical than ever for many U.S. manufacturers to continue their hiring and recruitment during this pandemic.
Hiring in the time of coronavirus is even harder due to the ongoing risk of spreading infection. However, it’s still possible.
This guide is intended to help HR personnel and recruiters continue their work during this critical time. With CDC guidelines requiring social distancing, and with shelter-in-place orders being in effect in many communities for the foreseeable future, now is not the time for critical and exempted businesses to stop work. Exempt and essential businesses can, in fact, continue recruiting and hiring while following all safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To help employers navigate the talent acquisition challenge in these uncertain times, we put together insights and best practices from our experience in remote recruiting, screening, and placement of candidates. Because of the nature of our business, Daughters of Rosie operations have always been conducted remotely.
Remote Screening Is in Our DNA
Daughters of Rosie is a professional network for the high-potential hourly worker. We recruit, screen, and coordinate interviews with candidates that match the talent needs of the companies we serve in manufacturing and transportation.
We started Daughters of Rosie with a mission to connect as many people as we could with careers that are meaningful to them. Remote screening and interviewing is in our DNA and is something that we’ve been effective at carrying out, even today. Some of the best candidates we’ve placed have been folks who we’ve never met in person.
Remote interviewing is not something to fear. In fact, it can be a source of immense leverage for your HR team, as it effectively broadens your reach to find the best possible hire for your team.
Is the In-Person Interview Really Necessary?
One of the major effects of COVID-19 is the inability to complete in-person interviews. At many companies, the typical hiring process involves at least one in-person meeting before a final offer is made. However, due to the spread of COVID-19, this may not always be possible.
Nevertheless, it's critical that companies continue their recruitment efforts and keep their talent pipeline fresh. It typically takes a company at least one quarter to attract, screen, and hire talent, and having a steady pipeline is even more important on the frontlines and at the entry level.
Now is the time to get creative with your process, so you can feel confident about hiring a candidate, even without an in-person interview.
For example, phone and video screenings are excellent ways to replicate the in-person experience of an interview. The main goal of the in-person interview is to connect more deeply with the candidate and get to know their personality in a more vulnerable way. It’s also a chance to show the candidate what the working environment will be like, so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to take the job if you offer it to them. It might feel strange at first, but you can also create that same connection and trust with a remote interview.
In cases where an in-person interview is absolutely essential, consider the following options:
Alternative Ways to Assess a Candidate
It's important to be flexible, generous, and kind in your assessment of the candidate. Hiring during a pandemic is a unique position for anyone to be in — the safety precautions, masks, gloves, and absence of physical contact can be disorienting and stressful to any candidate.
Try to give as much allowance as possible for someone to adjust to the new situation. Understand that it can be even more stressful to look for a job with the risk of infection. It’s also very likely that your candidates are dealing with a lot of pressures, like taking care of their children at home since schools are closed and childcare is unavailable.
Try to give as much leeway as possible to appearance, demeanor, personality, and “soft skills.” These qualities can be highly affected by the current atmosphere of general low-level panic.
Create a set of questions to help you connect more personally with the candidate. You can ask and gauge their responses through a video stream, and you’d be surprised at how much people will share with you over a video chat. Dry questions will get you dry answers, and answers that stem from a place of connection with the candidate will solicit more honest and vulnerable answers.
Here are a few open-ended questions to help you connect and draw deeper insights:
Preparation Is Key When Interviewing Remotely
Making successful hires without an in-person interaction is certainly possible — as long as you take the right steps and prepare accordingly.
Here’s How Daughters of Rosie Can Help
Remote interviewing and screening is what we do at Daughters of Rosie. Our way of remote operations has enabled us to operate nationally and deploy to any manufacturing plant in the US. It makes us experts in the best way to remotely attract, screen and retain the best possible talent. Remote operations also allows us to support companies that have less staff available for screening – in turn helping internal HR teams focus on other high-priority day-to day work.
Remote recruitment and screening works, even for hands-on entry-level roles. Our process cuts down the time needed to source candidates, screen, and place into roles.
Through this process, we’ve placed candidates within 3 weeks or less when starting from scratch. Here’s some statistics from our most recent placement drive:
How are you handling hiring in a pandemic? If you’d like to share any insights or feedback, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.