In the past six months, pandemic-driven changes to the economy have caused major shifts in the job market. Thousands of layoffs have resulted in a “buyer’s market” of sorts for companies fortunate enough to be in the position of hiring new employees. The hiring process itself has also undergone dramatic changes, because companies can no longer invite potential employees to the office for in-person interviews. As with many other issues, small businesses need to adapt their hiring processes to fit the times. 

Create New Postings

Begin with updating your job posting. Don’t rely on posts you’ve used in the past; ask new questions. You want to know about recent experience with technology and online resources, as well as willingness to learn new systems. Look for those with “remote readiness” – candidates willing to adapt as things change—because change is about the only thing that is predictable. Don’t be afraid of scaring off prospects by asking for specific skills (such as Excel); training is especially challenging from a distance, so hiring people who already have the skills you need is a wise move.

Have Extra Patience

Be both flexible and sensitive to what everyone has been dealing with for the past several months. Many times, interviewees are speaking from home where, despite their best efforts, distractions abound. Unemployment and personal issues such as childcare or ill family members may have taken a toll on their mental and physical health. While you don’t need to walk on eggshells, do be upbeat and display a positive, energetic demeanor. Be prepared to cut some slack, but at the same time take note of how they deal with their issues, as this may offer clues to potential job performance. 

Be Efficient

Keeping track of all the hiring steps (emails, interview notes, reference checks, etc.) can be tricky, especially from remote offices. Consider using an HR service to gather all the information you need in one place. Utilize more than just a video interview. One platform, Breezy, also provides the option to upload a personal video, which can give further insight into how someone handles themselves in front of a camera, a valuable skill in today’s climate.

Allow Extra Time

Gone are the days when you could schedule a half day of interviews and meet-and-greets. Expect the process to take longer. Coordinate multiple interviews to avoid repeated questions. Video meetings are exhausting for both interviewer and candidate, so don’t schedule too many in a row without breaks.

Create an Onboarding Plan

Jobbatical, a company specializing in relocating new hires, recommends having a thorough onboarding plan. If you haven’t done so already, create detailed documentation of company policies and expectations. Let this be the resource for everyone in the company, but especially new employees. Keep in mind that new hires can’t walk around and shake hands or chat with people. How will they learn your culture and become part of the team? Where can they go with their questions? Consider pairing them up with an “onboarding buddy” to be their go-to when they need to know something.

While current circumstances may not be the “new normal,” for now they are certainly the “present normal.” Adapting has become synonymous with survival, if not success, during the pandemic. Remember that the strength of your company depends on hiring quality people through a process that both meets your company standards and accommodates the current limitations. 

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