The majority of organizations (86%) are conducting virtual interviews to hire candidates during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Gartner survey found. Because of the uncertainty the pandemic has caused, some 82% of organizations said they expect a decline in external hiring over the next three months.

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“Many recruiting functions were already conducting virtual interviews including using video interviewing technology for remotely located candidates; however, this now is the norm for all candidates given the current environment,” said Lauren Smith, vice president in the Gartner HR practice.

Hiring can be complicated during this unprecedented time, especially with the toll the economy has taken as a result of the disease.

“There are several important strategies HR functions must use to effectively conduct virtual interviews so as to ensure a positive candidate experience and effective assessment by the hiring manager or other interviewers,” Smith said.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

Tips for hiring during a pandemic

1. Create a virtual hiring process

The coronavirus has forced businesses to implement large-scale virtual recruiting and interviewing initiatives. The majority (85%) of organizations said they are using new tech to onboard employees, the report found.

“Provide context to interviewers and candidates about the need for a virtual interview as well as what is expected of the interview. Ensure they are prepared for any issues that could disrupt the interview and that they should inform the other person if the video freezes or they have an unexpected interruption,” Smith noted. “Provide solutions or backup options, such as sharing an alternate phone number in case of call failure or providing a list of responses in case of disruptions such as background noise,” Smith said.

2. Realign hiring plans

Hiring is chaotic with economic uncertainty and budget constraints. More than half (54%) of organizations have delayed candidates’ start dates and 31% said they have canceled internship programs, Gartner found. The majority (63%) of recruiting leaders reported that more than half of their job openings are currently frozen.

SEE: COVID-19: Summer internships aren’t going away, but they may look very different this year (TechRepublic)

During this evolving time, recruiters and hiring managers must maintain clear and transparent communications with candidates. Whether a position has been placed on hold or a start date must be moved, communication is key for the sake of the candidate, according to the report.

Communication is also vital for the interview process, since a virtual interview might be new for the candidate, Smith said.

“Schedule time between the recruiter and the candidate to talk through the virtual interview set up and set expectations and answer any questions,” Smith said. “The recruiter should share tips on how to conduct an effective virtual interview including thinking through the physical setting they choose to conduct the interview in.”

3. Promote internal talent mobility

More than half (54%) of respondents said that all hiring efforts, except critical positions, will likely freeze in the next few months, the report found. Gartner suggested sourcing for talent internally.

Some 39% of employees said they would be open to switching to a new role within an organization, and hiring within might help lower risks associated with an organization’s growth, according to the research.

4. Ask for feedback

Smith also suggested organizations ask for regular feedback on the virtual interview process. Since this form of hiring is new for many companies, feedback would help the company improve that operation.

“Collect feedback on the virtual interview experience after the interview is complete from both the candidate and the interviewers to make the required changes and improve the quality of virtual interviews for subsequent candidates,” Smith said.

For more, check out How to hire a top job candidate via video conference on TechRepublic.

Also see

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto, Chainarong Prasertthai

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