The War for Talent

The Hybrid Workplace & The Pandemic: Answering Candidate Questions

Jun 22, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

When the pandemic hit, some organizations responded swiftly, put health and safety first, and created flexible solutions that allowed employees to work from home and take time off as needed. They included employees in conversations about how to move forward, and have emerged stronger than ever, with high employee engagement and a culture built on trust and transparency.

Other organizations, as we’ve all heard, did not handle the challenges as well.

Now, competition for talent is high and organizations in nearly every industry look to rehire for lost positions and add new staff, many job seekers want to know how their prospective employers responded to the pandemic and what their future plans are. We already know that 74% of job seekers say their current employer does not have a clearly communicated hybrid work plan and 9.7% of job listings across all industries now involve remote work, up from just 2% the year before. These figures suggest that job seekers will be curious to learn how flexible your work arrangements will be going forward.

Your recruiting team and hiring managers need to be prepared to answer questions about the pandemic as well as your approach to the hybrid workplace accurately and with confidence.

Here’s how to talk to candidates when they ask about your pandemic response and your future workforce plans.

Educate Your Team

Since your recruiting team and hiring managers may not have been involved in developing your organization’s pandemic response plan, this is a necessary first step. Conduct a training to get them up to speed on what happened and how, and equip them with specific talking points to address these questions when candidates bring them up. They may not need to have this conversation with every candidate, as some people will be uncomfortable with the topic and others may not feel they need to know. But, when candidates ask about your pandemic response, your recruiters and hiring managers need to be on the same page and understand how to talk about the subject so your response can be authentic and transparent.

Be Transparent & Proactive

Now that you know candidates will be asking about your pandemic response, it’s time to take action. Be honest and transparent with candidates from the start. Candidates may ask how your response plan was developed, what current employees think of it, what proportion of employees are working remotely now, and how your hybrid work plan looks for the future. Your recruiters and hiring managers need to be ready and willing to answer those questions. If your organization doesn’t have a formal plan yet, this is a good opportunity to create one.

Integrate Your Plan into Your Communication

Incorporate the story of your pandemic response into your recruiting communications and content. Create social posts around the topic as well as web content for your careers site and job postings hub that tell your story. Include employee testimonials (in video form whenever possible) that help round out the story and give candidates valuable insight into your employee experience.

Be sure to talk about your future hybrid work plan, or at least the fact that you have a plan, in all channels where you communicate with job seekers—your careers site and job postings hub, social media platforms, email/text communications, and one-on-one conversations. The talking points should be consistent throughout all channels to present a clear, cohesive story about your organization’s pandemic response and future plans.

Coach Hiring Managers on Talking to Candidates

In addition to training or workshops around pandemic response messaging, your hiring managers may need support navigating the next normal in the workforce. Many job seekers have an increased desire for work/life balance and more than a third of employees would look for another job if remote work was no longer available in their current roles. Train your hiring managers on the details of your hybrid work plan and teach them how it offers employees flexibility. Provide them with talking points so they can easily communicate these advantages in conversations with job seekers.

Ask for & Listen to Job Seeker Feedback

Even if you have a hybrid work plan in place, it’s a living thing that will need to evolve over time, as circumstances and attitudes shift. To ensure your plan, and your communication with candidates, continue to be relevant, collect feedback from job seekers about your pandemic response and hybrid work plans throughout the recruiting process. Consider those insights as you move forward with implementing your plan. Cross-reference candidate feedback with opinions from current employees, and look for solutions that address as many pain points as possible.

Empower Your Team to Tell Your Story

How organizations responded to the coronavirus pandemic will become part of your history forever, and just like many other aspects of your history, some candidates will have lots of questions and others will have few, if any. Preparing your recruiters and hiring managers to tackle these tough questions when they arise will strengthen your employer brand, build trust with candidates, and most importantly, will give candidates the information they need to decide to stay engaged throughout your recruiting process.

Read More on the War for Talent 

Stay in the Loop. Join 10,000+ Talent Acquisition Leaders