two women having an online meeting
From communicating with people through personalized messages to dressing professionally for video calls, there are several methods employers can use when hiring during COVID-19. — Getty Images/AJ_Watt

With COVID quarantines in full effect across the country, many companies have shifted to fully remote operations. However, hiring for essential positions can't stop just because you're not physically in the office.

If your company is looking to fill positions right now, you will need to adapt your regular recruiting efforts and keep your candidate pipeline full in this new remote work landscape.

"Companies that are [recruiting] new talent during the pandemic will need to make some common-sense changes to standard procedures, such as using video conferencing tools for interviews," said Will Bachman, co-founder and managing partner of Umbrex.

[Read: Resources to Help Your Small Business Survive the Coronavirus]

The reality of remote recruiting and hiring

While the abrupt transition to full-time remote work may be challenging for companies, this situation could be extremely beneficial if you're recruiting. According to Bachman, full-time employees who are now working from home will have greater flexibility to take a call from recruiters.

"Additionally, the pandemic is causing many employees to question many assumptions about their life, and so a greater percentage of the talent pool may be open to a discussion about a new role," Bachman added.

With the opportunity to snap up top-notch talent for your team, companies need to ensure their recruiters are ready and able to keep the candidate pipeline running smoothly. This includes equipping them with the technology they need to work from home and having the proper reporting channels in place so everyone can be kept up to date about open requisitions, said Bachman.

How to communicate with and onboard candidates if you're hiring during COVID-19

If your company's hiring strategy has changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristen Ribero, director of enterprise marketing at Handshake, recommends that companies take a proactive approach and close the loop on all open communications with active candidates. With so many things currently in flux, candidates will remember and appreciate companies that keep them informed in personalized, empathetic ways throughout these new hiring processes.

"Checking in on people or sharing brief status updates can go a long way in building trust," said Ribero. "They'll notice little things, such as using their first name and sending a small personal note rather than something that reads like an email auto-response."

If you're looking to hire in the near-term, Bachman said employers should allow new hires to work from home until the pandemic is under control.

"Establish procedures to on-board employees remotely," he noted. "Employers will be in a particularly strong position to attract top talent if they can design roles that allow working from home on an ongoing basis."

"Make sure you take the time to introduce new employees to the company through virtual meetings and encourage team members to welcome new employees through short email or Slack messages," added Ribero. "Arrange a virtual office tour for potential hires, or even a virtual presentation about different job roles at your company."

[Read: Top Tech Tools to Keep Your Team Connected During Coronavirus]

Checking in on people or sharing brief status updates can go a long way in building trust.

Kristen Ribero, director of enterprise marketing, Handshake

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Tips for a successful virtual job interview

Both candidates and employers need to prepare for remote video job interviews as the "new normal" for the foreseeable future. Here are a few tips for conducting successful virtual interviews from home, whether you're a hiring manager or a job seeker.

Test out your Wi-Fi connectivity

Be sure your home Wi-Fi connection is stable and test the connectivity strength in advance.

Get familiar with your video conferencing tools

Become familiar with the video conferencing tools and practice using them prior to the interview to avoid any day-of technical glitches.

"The day before [the interview], download the software to your computer, launch it and run a practice session with a friend to test the audio and video," said Ribero. "Save those settings on your computer and test them again one hour before the interview, [so you can] adjust them quickly if needed. The ideal distance from the camera is usually two to three feet."

Choose the right location

You may be in a makeshift home office but take some time to scout out the perfect location in your home to conduct a video call.

"Pick a place where you are on a single-color background, or at least one that is not too busy," said Ribero. "Your room should be well-lit and not have background noise."

Dress for success

It's tempting to stay in pajamas or sweats when you're working from home full-time, but interviewers and candidates should make the effort to look professional. Ribero recommends candidates make themselves "look as you would in your first week of work" in the office.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

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Published March 24, 2020