It’s likely already been over a month since your office transitioned to working remotely, and still, it seems, we may have several more weeks to go. While some states are already beginning initial steps to reopen, it’s unclear what that may mean regarding timelines for specific offices to open its doors and resume business as usual. Many organizations will still have to make critical hiring decisions while being away from the office and unable to meet candidates in person.
During this time of crisis, leadership is more consequential and necessary than ever. For organizations looking to add dynamic leaders to step in, one question hangs in the air: how can we hire senior positions confidently amidst such disruption to the hiring process?
From our experience assisting our clients during this time, we’ve compiled a list of critical benchmarks to address internally to ensure you can evaluate and hire leaders with your usual confidence.
Prepare internal interviewing teams
The coronavirus has spared no business process the mandate to innovate and adapt. Be sure to prepare and educate internal HR and executive leadership on necessary changes to the hiring process. Set expectations and establish roles early on so nothing can fall through the cracks; for the organizations that are surviving this economic upheaval, there will be a wealth of candidates knocking at their door. Make sure you’re prepared to handle increased volume and have the repeatable processes in place to devote the proper due diligence to each prospect.
Because we’ve lost the element of in-person communication, for the time being, all other channels of communication should be increased to keep engagement high. Consider assigning a dedicated coordinating role as part of the interviewing team to maintain consistent contact with candidates, communicate between meetings, and gauge how they feel about the process. Additionally, many are dealing with a considerable amount of personal disruptions while engaged in the interviewing process like closed schools, canceled events, and an unpredictable work-life. Be sure to be sensitive towards their time, needs for space and allow for breaks as needed as candidates deal with closed schools, canceled events, and other personal disruptions.
Evaluating management and leadership talent remotely
One of the most obvious challenges facing organizations is the restrictions on in-person meetings with candidates. For the time being, all of the usual vetting processes have to be facilitated virtually.
Get comfortable with whichever video conferencing tool you use and leverage it aggressively to check as many of the usual boxes as you can to gauge personality and cultural fit. While the traditional staples like taking prospects out to lunch or dinner and a day spent meeting the team are put on pause, make it easier on your hiring team by diligently scheduling as many points of contact as possible with candidates throughout the hiring and vetting stage.
Let technology empower your teams, ramp up communication, and get a little creative with how you engage with candidates. Virtual lunches, happy hours, tours of the office, and more are all perfectly acceptable and effective methods of establishing a personal report with prospective leaders, maintaining the human touch, and showcasing your company culture and empathy.
Setting expectations and maintaining transparency
In such uncertain times, consistent, transparent communication is your best tool to establish empathy and trust with candidates. Be direct and honest about how the coronavirus has affected your organization, starting with the very hiring and onboarding process in which the candidate finds themself. Let them know what to expect in the coming weeks so they can prepare accordingly as they are likely dealing with considerable disruption on their end as well.
As you progress to defining expectations for the position itself, be transparent about how the pandemic has affected the state of the company, organizational structure, and the functional area(s) that they will be managing or leading. Candidates have likely already witnessed dramatic change first hand at their current or previous role and they’ll have a watchful eye for any details that seem dressed up or vague. In times of such tumult, honesty and directness about the state of affairs are valued above all else.
Huffman Associates is a national executive search firm providing innovative solutions to help companies build leadership teams to meet their business challenges and navigate change. Over the years, our team of dedicated executive recruiters has partnered with great organizations to help them find the leaders they need to drive their business forward.
Get in touch with us today to learn more.