Job interviews in the era of physical distancing

Job interviews

Given the current climate, it is likely to be a while before in-person activities return to pre-pandemic levels. This presents employers with a chance to rethink their hiring processes, while taking into account the limited ability for in-person interactions. Virtual interviews are not the ‘new normal’ but the ‘only normal’, and there are a few reasons why virtual interviews are helpful in the current environment to reach ideal candidates, writes Tom Cornell, Head of Assessment (APAC), Hirevue.

The pandemic has forced businesses to rapidly rethink the way they operate — from their business models, to working and hiring. As a result of various physical distancing and safety measures, it’s no surprise job interviews have gone virtual.

Virtual interviews were already on the rise before the pandemic, but recent events have sparked a dramatic surge. On the HireVue platform, we have seen a 653 per cent increase in live virtual interviews, across Australia, between July 6 and July 20, when compared to the weekly average between January 15 and March 10. HireVue’s 15 millionth virtual interview was reached this July, just over a year after its 10 millionth was conducted — pointing to a recent and sharp rise.

This is a unique opportunity for companies and hiring managers to take a hard look at their existing hiring processes, and consider how they can make them more efficient and effective.

When businesses do gradually reopen, leaders need to plan for a surge in rehiring as the economy begins its recovery. Investing in top talent will be crucial for companies as they look to build organisational resilience and drive value and profitability. However, given the current climate, it is likely to be a while before in-person activities return to pre-pandemic levels. This presents employers with a chance to rethink their hiring processes, while taking into account the limited ability for in-person interactions. Virtual interviews are not the ‘new normal’ but the ‘only normal’, and there are a few reasons why virtual interviews are helpful in the current environment to reach ideal candidates.

Going virtual allows for recruitment at speed and scale
Since the pandemic, some industries including call centres and delivery services are hiring workers in large numbers to meet unprecedented demands. Most recently, a leading Australian telco also saw 19,000 candidates applying for 1,000 vacant call centre jobs. As companies look to redeploy pandemic layoffs, organisations now face hundreds of applicants per opening, and need to sort through these applications quickly to get key talent back into the workforce, while on reduced resources.

This is a unique opportunity for companies and hiring managers to take a hard look at their existing hiring processes, and consider how they can make them more efficient and effective. Technology can be a great enabler in the situation, such as platforms like HireVue, which offers video interviews; live, person-to-person online interviews, and online assessments, helping employers find and interview candidates remotely, while social distancing rules are still in place.

HireVue also has the capability to allow for structured interviews to take place on-demand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any device. One advantage is the accessibility it affords both the candidates and the hiring managers. Candidates can take the interview from anywhere around the world, at a time that suits them, without needing to travel to physically meet their prospective employers. This is hugely beneficial for those who work full time or serve double duty taking care of children or elderly relatives, to interview for new positions when it’s most convenient for them. It also creates flexibility for the hiring manager to review interviews at a time that also enables them to still accommodate their existing workloads.

In the absence of the physical aspect of job interviews, the use of appropriate functionalities such as introductory videos and branding can still make candidates feel they are part of a personalised interview experience.

Virtual interviews are not the ‘new normal’ but the ‘only normal’, and there are a few reasons why virtual interviews are helpful in the current environment to reach ideal candidates.

Broaden your talent pool with fairer hiring practices
Virtual interviewing is also one way to ensure a level playing field within the talent pool. Using on-demand technology to deliver structured interviews means candidates receive a consistent experience such as being asked the same, competency-based questions during an interview. This way they are not impacted by uncontrollable factors such as the interviewers’ mood or demeanor, immediately improving the fairness of the process for all candidates.

Another way to assess talent is using skills-based pre-hire assessments to narrow down on the ideal candidate. This is done via objective methods of evaluating job-relevant abilities. With skills-based assessments, recruiters rely less on CVs and grades which are rarely predictive of job success and are often where human biases are activated, and instead remain focused on a candidate’s skills that predict success in a specific role.

Investing in top talent will be crucial for companies as they look to build organisational resilience and drive value and profitability.

This in turn breaks down barriers that exist within the current recruitment process. It also helps to uncover talent where employers least expect it — leading to a far more diverse and inclusive talent pool.

Businesses should not view this transition to virtual interviewing as a short-term solution. By taking the first step towards adjusting the recruitment process, companies can take advantage of tools that not only save time, but offer the objectivity and structured interviewing necessary to diversify the way they hire. This has proven to open up the talent pool to candidates that might not have been considered previously, and the benefits of the process will see businesses through the pandemic, and beyond.

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