Coronavirus Impact: Adapting The Hiring Process
We know that thousands – if not millions – of people are starting work in the most unexpected of offices. Whether it’s the dining room table, a tiny corner desk, or a bedroom in a shared apartment, the work from home mandate for many is a new wrinkle in work life. (I’m sitting at my dining room table right now, in fact…)
But amid containment zones, curtailed travel, and the talk of how to stay connected to co-workers, I’m worried that we’re also missing another major discussion point: hiring in a remote world.
“Every adversity contains, at the same time, a seed of equivalent opportunity!” – Napoleon Hill
Yes, we’re now in a bear market (for how long, who knows). The first layoffs due to coronavirus have already hit, adding to the palpable unease we’re all feeling. It’s almost certain that – for now – companies likely won’t be scaling and may even start contracting. I already hear rumors of hiring freezes.
Yet that doesn’t mean hiring will grind to a total halt. And, frankly, it shouldn’t! There will always be critically important positions that have to be filled, backfills that need to be hired, and core functions that are required to operate. But coronavirus has pulled back the veil on the massive complexity that is interviewing, hiring and onboarding almost exclusively online. The answers will evolve in time but for now, I want my companies to start thinking about how important hires will be made in a virtual world. I have spent that last 6 days developing checklist and checkpoints to help you through this.
For example, how do you create an interview process that ensures you get the best candidate when you can’t meet in person? Exclusively remote interviewing can introduce bias into the process. If you’re requiring candidates to show up on Zoom, let's be sure that your questioning is strategic and to the point. (I can help with this – I have custom interview guides to help you navigate).
We have to be creative, we have to adapt – but the needs of your business do not go into quarantine. Business must continue – and we must find a way to be better, adaptable, innovative, and effective.
That creativity is also essential to determine how to compensate for the crutch of being together. We’re used to seeing if the salesperson has that presence through an in-person pitch, or working side-by-side with a PM to wireframe a product, or standing next to a designer as she takes you through some options. Now we’ll need to find other ways to get at that same goal. At Edna Rice, we’re taking the action to add a “trial” period to our potential new hires, to see how they perform in the day-to-day versus a contrived interview set-up. You are not in this alone, we are in this together.
Extending the offer
Once a candidate accepts, the complexity continues. And we will navigate this – I have a checklist of items that we will make sure you can automate your process. How do you get their passport for I-9 verification? How do you get a laptop configured and delivered? Do you have an onboarding process that lends itself to a virtual version? Will it have the same impact? What about the paperwork that needs to be physically filled out? Will your company issue stand-up desks and ergonomic chairs to help home office workers? The remote-only world, even if temporary, presents all-new challenges in actually getting someone hired. You will need a plan or hires won’t be made, further slowing your business.
In a typical scenario, we know what to do when a new person joins our team. You walk them around the office and introduce them to the people they need to know. We take them to lunch or out to happy hour. We show them the channels they need to join on Slack. Managers and colleagues do this informal integration work as naturally as breathing. It’s easy to remember who the new person is and that they belong.
But how do you now create new processes that feel organic and comfortable for both teams and their new teammates? Technology allows us to connect, but it doesn’t automatically fuel meaningful connections. Some kinds of people will naturally adjust easier: the extroverts. Once again, we’re creating a system that biases toward a certain personality type. Companies should consider how they can facilitate an inclusive connection that works for all. We started a weekly team all hands just for this case – give some face time and build connection in a time when we’re all at home. (Plus it’s nice to see a face when you’re isolated in your dining room, amirite?)
Coronavirus is a community issue. It’s only through communities taking action to slow the spread that we’ll curtail it. It’s only through communities that we can and will lift each other up. And companies are part of the community. My service is to you, the Company. My job is to adapt for you, to be a resource and to help you hire the best and the brightest – and I will do that – even if, from my dining room table.
Let’s remember that big picture – the sky is not falling – we will adapt, and we have the resources to do so…even as we work to solve our industry hiring and onboarding challenges.