Technical Recruiting in the Age of COVID-19


April 14, 2020


180 Engineering

P.T. Barnum’s mantra, “The show must go on,” rings especially true today. Virtually overnight, COVID-19 has turned our world on its head. Many large gatherings, including trade events that were staple recruiting opportunities for many companies, have been canceled. International travel now formally restricted. Many companies are restricting or banning all travel, limiting the size of meetings, and rationing the number of visitors permitted on corporate campuses.

These efforts to control the spread of the virus throw an obvious wrench into a typical recruiting process where handshakes and in-person interviews were considered critical. Trying times call for creativity and process adjustments, so several of our clients are doing exactly this. Despite the COVID-19 challenge, 180 Engineering clients are still facing an incredibly tight engineering and IT labor market. They simply cannot abandon recruiting and hiring efforts waiting for this crisis to pass. So how can companies best handle their recruiting efforts while keeping their employees and candidates safe?

Adjusting Recruiting Processes

One of our clients, a large player within the life sciences industry, has sharply reduced the quantity of in-person interviews. Instead, they are relying more heavily on phone and video interviews. Candidates within driving distance are still being invited into the office for final in-person interviews. However, for candidates not within driving distance, final interviews are being conducted, hiring decisions being made, and offers extended based on video interviews.

Other companies 180 Engineering works with are managing with similar, yet slightly adjusted processes. For example, some companies are not doing any in-person interviews and are solely conducting phone and video interviews, including final interviews.

Video Interviewing Best Practices

Many of us have not had a lot of experience with video interviewing. In light of the current need to enhance these skills quickly, we assembled some tips that we hope you find helpful.

Set candidates’ expectations

While video interviewing is not brand new, it is new to a lot of candidates as its popularity has only been growing for the last three to four years. Given the COVID-19 outbreak, video interviewing will spike rapidly and suddenly, so be prepared to have a bit of patience and provide any needed instruction. Also, since many companies have extensively changed their hiring processes in a very short period, take the time to be as clear as you possibly can about how the hiring process will work.

Train your interviewing team

Video interviewing is likely newer to your hiring team, so conduct training sessions to share best practices, answer questions, and address concerns. You can avoid missteps and potential delays to your hiring process by making sure that your interviewing team is as trained and prepared as possible.

Technology and room preparation
Check your internet connection, webcam, and microphone in advance of the interview. Due to the significant amount of bandwidth video conferencing requires, use an ethernet connection rather than wi-fi, if possible. Also, think about the lighting in the room where you will be conducting your interviews. Try to avoid light coming from behind you, even natural light from a window. When excess light hits a webcam, the camera will compensate by darkening, and you’ll tend to look like a faceless shadow. It is generally much better if the light is facing you, but do some tests before the interview.

Add some visual appeal

It goes without saying that you should conduct interviews in a professional-looking and quiet setting. A unique or dynamic looking conference room is a great backdrop. Also, consider wearing a company-logoed oxford shirt, or other logoed items to increase the interviewee’s connection with your company.

Personal presentation

To provide the feeling of eye contact, try to look straight into the camera as much as possible. From an attire perspective, the same level of professionalism is required for a video interview as is needed for an in-person interview. The only recommended adjustment is to avoid wearing white, heavy patterns or bright colors as these choices often do not work well on camera. Stick to darker colors and non-white shirts.

Video Interviewing Technology Tools

Your company likely has a subscription to one of the many video conferencing solutions currently on the market. Given today’s need for more video conferencing, you might have to add more seats to compensate for the growing demand. While there are many choices out there, just some of the common options you are likely familiar with include:

Additionally, there are platforms specially designed for recruiting, such as Spark Hire and Vid Cruiter.

Spark Hire facilitates collaboration among the interviewing team, facilitates one-way video screening that allows candidates to answer questions in their own time, note-taking and documentation, and more. Vid Cruiter handles one-way interviews, live interviews, interview scheduling, and several other functions.

Regardless of the technology tools selected, we recommend having at least a couple of tools at-the-ready. Some candidates will have trouble utilizing some platforms, so you may need to be prepared to offer another option. For example, some tools can be difficult for some international candidates, and challenges can exist depending on the computer operating system the candidate is using. A little flexibility will go a long way.

No one knows how long the coronavirus threat will continue. However, it seems clear that we will be in uncharted waters for some time. Many of us will need to adjust talent acquisition practices so that we can continue to attract the talent we need to sustain our businesses while keeping our companies and candidates as safe as absolutely possible. 180 Engineering is here to help in any way we can.