It’s no secret that the ongoing Coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic has shaken markets globally, nationally, and locally, but we are still in this strange interim period where the effects are still trying to be identified. One of the most blaring effects has been on the so-called “workplace.” I say this with hesitation because prior to the pandemic, approximately seven percent (7%) of the workforce worked completely remotely. For most, when the pandemic hit, their offices went completely remote or even closed. Shifting to the present times, roughly thirty percent (30%) of workers consider themselves hybrid and thirty-five percent (35%) report working completely remotely.
Given this information, how are firms to hire new people when a third of the workforce is working remotely? Moreover, how are people in the industry supposed to find jobs that meet their workplace needs, and of course, what are the future implications for business? The best approach, in this case, is to unpack this one by one.
For the Firms
For firms, this might be the hardest. You’ve got many hoops to jump through and you’ve got to try to appease several different people. On the one hand, you obviously must comply with government regulations regarding COVID protocols in the workplace; of course, on the other hand, you want employees to feel comfortable in the office, so perhaps you won’t enforce them so strictly. Sadly, this list goes on and on, there are so many different factors to consider.
When applying all of these to the hiring process, it can get very convoluted and tumultuous very quickly. The interview process, however, may have just gotten more thorough. For you, this is a perfect time to really see how much people really want to work for you. Many businesses have now upped their previously one-step interview process to now have even three steps.
This can look different depending on the firm, but largely it consists of first a phone interview, then a video interview, and finally an in-person interview. There are several advantages to this model. As previously mentioned, as management, you can see how much people want to work for you.
If you have 100 applicants and only 10 are willing to put in the work to get to the third interview, you can learn a lot. Looking at the opposite, if you have 100 applicants and 60 are still kicking after you’ve done video interviews, that can also tell you a lot. (Of course, it is very true that perhaps people just don’t like this model and that may also be reflected in the numbers.) This is simply one example of how your interview process has changed and there are infinitely more that could be considered.
A tip that some firms are also looking to is finding new resources to relieve stress; simple things like reviewing your employee absence policy, reviewing remote work policies, assessing the capabilities of your technology for video conferencing, and just making sure you are communicating clearly are all things that can alleviate tons of stress from the employees perspective.
For the Person(s)
From a candidate’s or employee’s perspective, these are extremely trying times. You are very likely being tested in many different ways: personally, financially, and professionally. Odds are, you are under a lot of stress. In 2020, the WSJ wrote an article detailing the severity of unemployment, suggesting that between 20-40 million people had been laid-off as a result of the pandemic. Many of those people are still unemployed today, so how do you go about finding a new job? Navigating the current job market can be very overwhelming for anyone, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Now is probably the best time to contact a recruiter (this is not meant to be an advertisement) because odds are they have a better idea of the job market for your industry—granted the conditions are changing very frequently. Alternatives are simply to find ways to make yourself stand out on phone or video interviews. Following are a few tips we were able to conjure for acing your phone/video interview:
- Look into the webcam (since you can’t really make eye contact).
- Try to get direct lighting so they can actually see you.
- Too much backlight puts a shadow on your face and makes it hard to see you.
- Speak clearly and if a connection issue arises, be honest.
- Finally, try to have a clear location (clear of background noise and visual distractions).
These simple four tips can, hopefully, help you master your virtual interviews.
For the Future
Unfortunately, the truth is that no one knows what all we can do in the future to prepare ourselves for events like a pandemic. All we can do is work with what we have and do our best. At the end of the day, mastering an interview or finding the best person for a position is really hard and the pandemic hasn’t been making it easier. Life is hard, it’s messy, but we must prevail.