Virtual Recruiting Panel Webinar Summary

May 01, 2020 - Amanda Ebling

COVID-19 changed so much of our lives in just a few short weeks, from shutting down cities to toilet paper shortages. We wondered, how has it changed, and how will it continue to change, the way we work together? How will it change how we search for top talent?

On April 16th, we pulled in four experts in the TA/HR space to discuss some of these questions in a panel webinar.

Just like we've seen in many historical crises, there have been some positive innovations born out of necessity within the TA/HR space. We could see many organizations keep some of these new tactics and ideas even as we move past this unprecedented event.

The two moderators, Joe Matar from Brazen and Jenny Skundrich from Recruitics, navigated a discussion with the following experts:

  • Jane Ormerod, VP of Talent Acquisition at SAIC
  • Peter Brooks, VP of Talent Acquisition at Northrop Grumman
  • Tim Meehan, VP and Global Head of Emerging Technologies at Pontoon Solutions
  • Jen Tracy, VP of Recruiting Solutions at Spectrum

Note: Some quotes have been edited for brevity.

Below, we’ve pulled some of the top quotes from our panelists and also added our take on the virtual recruiting questions, based on numerous experiences of our clients.

How has COVID-19 impacted virtual hiring strategies for different organizations?

We’ve seen a surge in interest for virtual hiring as COVID-19 began to disrupt our daily life. Some organizations were already using virtual hiring tools pre-COVID-19, but COVID-19 shifted them towards 100% use. Some organizations were completely unfamiliar with virtual hiring tools until COVID-19, then started using them to fit their hiring needs.

“It has done more to digitize the TA/HR space more than any other single event probably in history. So, there is a silver lining.” - Peter Brooks

Google searches for “virtual hiring events” over the past year:

Likewise, Brazen has seen a 40-fold increase in interest for our platforms.

What is the most valuable feature in a virtual hiring event solution for a TA team?

Right now, the obvious most valuable feature is that organizations can still meet their HR needs while adhering to medical experts’ advice about social distancing.

Even without COVID-19, there are many benefits of virtual hiring events, from substantially lowering costs to adding convenience for both the candidates and the organization hiring.

“The biggest feature for me is that we get to meet the candidates where they are. We’re not limited by location. It opens the candidate pool.” - Jane Ormerod

What are some best practices for promoting virtual hiring events?

We suggest sending a few emails to your database leading up to the event and leveraging social media. CRM’s can be really powerful in organizing who should receive what invitations based on demonstrated interest. The good thing about these tools is that they shouldn’t cost additional money, Jen pointed out.

Peter added, beyond the tactical aspects of promoting events, to make sure you’re really engaging those candidates and interacting as if the event were in person.

What are your top recommendations/best practices for TA teams and hiring managers for virtual interviews?

Our advice has always been to spend some time before the interview testing your devices for sound, camera, and microphone. We also recommend make sure your background is neat and not distracting to the candidate.

In our panel, Jen recommended having your hiring manager record an introduction video of the job they’re trying to fill. “The reason that is so helpful is that if they do it well, and we send that out to the candidates, you get about 100% interview completion with your candidates… it engages them at an early point to really get excited about the company.”

Peter also made a timely point about best practices for virtual interviews:

“Understanding the very human context, they could’ve just lost their job, been the single bread winner, could’ve been an essential worker worried about bringing an illness… back to their families. It is really important to make sure you get someone in a conversational space, that they’re comfortable, that you’re meeting with them as directly as possible.”

What are some things your organization is doing to keep employees engaged and to keep morale up during this time?

We’ve heard of many great ideas to help employees get through this tough time. The main strategies seem to lay around virtualizing what used to take place in person, for instance, weekly all-hands calls, “coffee breaks” for smaller groups, scheduling one-on-one lunches, and even company-wide happy hours.

“We had 27 new employees that we didn’t get a chance to meet in person, so we did a company-wide video conference and each person introduced themselves.” - Jane Ormerod

“Every day from 12-1pm…I make time to talk to 2-3 of our front-line recruiters to see where they need help and what’s going on.” - Peter Brooks

Do you anticipate adopting some of these changes towards virtualization in recruitment for the long-term?

Obviously, we have been big believers in virtualizing recruitment, regardless of COVID-19. We’ve seen our clients get large, quality audiences for virtual events due to the improved accessibility. Candidates already have a positive feeling toward the company hiring because they just made interviewing so easy. For the organization hiring, there are major cost and time savings!

“We had started doing a virtual recruiting model three years ago…which has been a success for us, so this is something that’s been able to drive us to 100% adoption which has been fantastic for us. Most elements of the virtual recruiting process set up they will keep.”- Jen Tracy

“It’s very rare in the course of human history that you see the genie escape the bottle, then you shove it back in the bottle. So for those of us who want to leverage technology and for Millennials and Gen-z, digital natives who are accustom to using technology…I think this is really an opportune time.”      - Peter Brooks

We’re all one giant human experiment to prove that virtualization is possible. I think the way we work including recruitment will change. - Tim Meehan

Our final thoughts...

We really enjoyed talking to these four experts in the TA/HR space about their organizations’ responses and predictions about the current crisis. We’re hopeful that we, as the TA/HR community, will take some positives with us as we move past this unprecedented event.

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