The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted every business sector to some extent – from simply embracing remote working as part of social distancing, through to the abrupt closure of hundreds of small businesses in the hospitality and leisure industries. We are also seeing unprecedented, rapid pivoting, as retailers focus on e-commerce over physical locations or restaurants become delivery specialists to deal with the majority of us staying at home. There are significant implications for every employer in every sector and every one of us working, and these in turn are naturally affecting the recruitment process.
While some companies have understandably put a freeze on hiring until the outlook is clearer, many are continuing with their plans in an attempt to prevent a business slowdown, and as such are getting creative with their recruitment processes. At the time of writing, none of our clients have closed their doors completely, but have increased their existing remote working capabilities to ensure business continuity. Those who hadn’t rolled this out across the board are now seeing the immediate benefits of remote working and have brought forward plans that may have been pencilled in much further down the line. In the wake of the Government’s announcement this week of £350bn in support for businesses, we are seeing an optimism around continuity being the main focus, rather than survival.
The finance function has a crucial role in times like these: modelling the economic impact to a business and ensuring continuity of payroll, for example, and technology means this can continue while they work remotely. Tech is also the solution when it comes to continuing with recruitment plans, with a number of organisations this week announcing a total move to online interviewing, led by tech giants Google, Amazon and Facebook.
The adoption of video conferencing apps, including WeChat Work, Zoom and Slack, has risen nearly fivefold since the start of the year, and we are seeing first hand an increased use of Skype, Microsoft Teams, Hinterview and HireVue, most of which are a relatively minor cost to a business to ensure a seamless transition to a new form of communication. Some commentators are speculating that this trend for online interviewing, which was already underway, may have been escalated by two or three years to become the new norm even after the coronavirus issue.
Online interviewing is additionally streamlining many companies’ recruitment processes by limiting the number of people involved and minimising the need for a mutually convenient diary window. Candidates aren’t forced to only speak out of office hours or find an excuse to be able to interview, and employers are finding this efficiency is reducing the average time to hire. For organisations who are continuing with their growth plans to retain a competitive edge, we are seeing a lot of risk and reward as employers lock down the talent now, without waiting for a face-to-face meeting. One key client of ours is starting their year-end process remotely at the same time as going through a merger, so their need for temporary and permanent finance professionals is greater than ever, and they have readily adapted to 1st stage phone interviews and 2nd stage video interviews, with positive results.
As a genuine consultancy, we’re currently contacting all of our clients to offer advice and support on how they can continue to make hires remotely and discussing with them the benefits of implementing this way of hiring long term. We’re also in frequent contact with our candidates, coaching them on interview techniques that differ when performed over video, and reassuring them about keeping their career aspirations on track. If you would like any help on recruiting remotely, contact us today.