COVID-19 is, and will continue to, affect many parts of our work processes. One of them is how we select new employees. Yes, even with layoffs some companies are hiring now and most will be again before the end of the year. With social distancing and the acceptance of video-conferencing, we are beginning to accept that how we select candidates will change.
This does provide for a process improvement opportunity in what we do. Are all of the current steps we use necessary or are some based on myth? For instance, the National Football League is going forward with their big selection weekend at the end of the month, but there are concerns from those who evaluate the candidates that they do not have access to the tools that they normally would in doing their final rankings. I am guessing that they will find that some of those tools are for making people feel important in the process and do not really add a lot of value in finding meaningful differences between players. You may find that some aspects of your process are redundant or done for the sake of tradition rather than adding value.
Here are some selection traditions that we are going to have to let go of for a bit and the silver linings associate with the changes:
- Face to face interviews. Whether social distancing is officially with us for four more weeks or four more months, the hesitancy to be physically close to others will likely be with us for a while. People are becoming more comfortable and adept with video calls and we should continue to utilize them. Silver lining: In areas with heavy traffic, the video calls are easier to schedule for both parties.
- Virtual assessments. Whether it is for skills and personality testing, or role-plays, assessments have been moving online for several years and the current situation will likely convert some who have not yet made the switch. Silver lining: giving these assessments online is very efficient. The reduced cost improves their business impact and will make it easier to process candidates when hiring picks up again.
- Being ultra-professional. Being interviewed or assessed online was a way to put one’s best professional foot forward. Doing so from home, with kids and pets around, is going to chip away at the veneer. Silver lining: While I feel for the candidate who is trying to respond to a question with a barking dog in the background, I do think that interviewees will bring forth more of their authentic self. Whether this leads to a more valid process is an open question. But, hiring managers and HR will have a better idea of the “real” person being hired.
In HR we often talk about implementing change, but this is a time where we also need to be the leaders of it in our own areas. Let’s skip the denial of what is happening and ditch the resistance to new ways of evaluating candidates. I think we will be pleasantly surprised with the results.