Recruiting During Coronavirus: Part 1 - Handling the Immediate Needs

Apr 01, 2020
| Jeff DeModna, VP of Recruiting Services

Recruiting has taken a dramatic turn over the last several weeks. Businesses have done everything from freezing open positions and pausing recruitment efforts to keeping candidates warm while waiting out COVID-19. Some organizations have even doubled down on their recruiting incase their team’s fall ill.

Whether you plan to cease hiring or continue your recruiting efforts digitally, here are some best practices to help ease the transitions of your recruiting program:

Make Communications Transparent

Candidates understand the current climate businesses are faced with while dealing with COVID-19. Like all of us, they are in limbo, waiting to see what the outcomes may be in the coming weeks.

What candidates need most today is honesty and transparency. Recruiting managers should openly share if there is no current timetable for decisions. It’s also important to share any available specifics on where this position may land after the pandemic is over.

Candidates appreciate candor. Which, in turn, makes them more likely to view your organization as having greater integrity, helping position you as a strong option for consideration when positions reopen or you restart the interview process.

Make Contact Quickly

Most companies are still heavily focused on planning, testing and safeguarding their businesses during these unprecedented times. Unfortunately, this makes it easy to overlook early stage candidates you may have been speaking with before COVID-19 hit.  

Don’t forget them. It’s important to let them know all things COVID-19 related are taking top priority. If time is of the essence, send them a quick email or LinkedIn note. It helps avoid putting candidates in the awkward situation of following up with a hiring manager or recruiting manager during this inopportune time.

Pending Candidates & Making a Final Decision:

"You don't lose the human connection with video. You can still assess facial expressions and level of engagement when speaking virtually to candidates. We've found there are many meaningful ways to engage with people besides face to face. You don't need to shake someone's hand to hire them," says Irene DeNigris, Chief People Officer at recruitment software company, iCIMS.

There are a myriad of ways to find out whether or not a candidate is a right fit without them physically in the room:
  • Utilize Virtual Interviews - Take advantage of cloud-based tools such as HireVue, ConveyIQ, Whereby or Microsoft Teams.
  • Issue Skills Assessment Tests – IBM’s Kenexa and others, offer hundreds of tests to help evaluate specific and targeted skill sets.
  • Rely on Reference Checks – Make sure requested references are relevant, someone who was a teammate, someone who reported to the candidate (if possible), and someone who was his/her supervisor. For the latter, remember the key question, “Would you hire this person again?”
  • Sample Assignments – For certain roles, you can ask the candidate to provide sample work. Most technology, marketing or design applicants have a portfolio. For sales, ask for a 30-60-90 plan, and if all else fails, create a situation and have them present how they would handle it.
  • Problem Solving Questions - Use the current global situation to get a stronger understanding of how they handle adversity. Talk to the candidate about the current market, what suggestions they would make to an employer in these times and how it would change their current routine.
  • Character Questions – Similarly, use the pandemic to get a feel for who he/she is as a person. How are you handling this with your family? Tough times can show a person's integrity and asking questions about the current situation can give you more insight to who the candidate is as a person.

Delaying a Start Date or Rescinding an Offer Letter

The key with either delaying a start date or rescinding an offer is the ability to be empathetic to the hire. It is imperative when rescinding an offer you put yourself in the candidates’ shoes. They made a life decision they felt would enhance their career and move their life forward and now that is no longer the case.

When delaying a start date, it is key to have a schedule:
  • Send “Keep Warm Emails” once or twice a week.
  • Assign a team member to be the new hire’s point of contact.
  • Discuss goals & training plans to keep enthusiasm high.

Please be aware if the offer letter has verbiage contractually binding your organization to hire the candidate. If an individual has given notice to their current employer, it could be a legal matter whether you can rescind the offer or not. If they have not given notice to their current employer, please use the tips above to help keep the candidate warm and your talent bench full.

For additional insight, please reach out to and look for our additional articles in the upcoming days to help navigate the new normal.