Let’s face it, hiring is very different then it was this time last year. One of the ways it’s changed is how we approach candidate experience in the new normal. We often talk about candidate experience in terms of how we treat job seekers who cross our path but part of it is also how prepared hiring managers or recruiters are to address candidate concerns during an interview. And these days, candidates probably have a lot of concerns. Everyone wants to know how company life has changed as a result of the pandemic and the best candidates will come to their interview with a list of questions for a potential employer. From life in the office to your sick day policy, don’t go into an interview unprepared to address key topics that are top of mind for today’s candidates.
What are candidates looking for?
If you’re going to be hiring during the pandemic then prepare for the candidate conversation to have changed. Odds are, you’re not going to be touting the company ping pong table or that free lunch service anymore. Instead, provide a great candidate experience by being prepared for job seekers to ask about:
Remote work capabilities: Probably the first question a candidate is going to ask you these days is about your remote work policy. Has your company moved online or are you still working on-site? It’s important to inform candidates about how they’ll be required to work and what their environment will be. If your company is fully remote, what does that look like in practice? Perhaps you’ve created an active online community or maybe your employees prefer to be left alone with a weekly to-do list. By taking stock of what sort of online environment your company is offering, you’ll be better able to communicate those realities to a candidate. That way they can make an informed decision about whether your remote work approach aligns with their own working style.
Company culture: With the office out-of-bounds, candidates are looking for clues online about what life at a company is like. They’ll likely have searched your LinkedIn, company website, and social channels for any hints about what they can expect once it’s safe to go back to work. Get ahead of this conversation by being prepared for it. If possible, go to your empty office and record a remote tour to show your candidate what their future office life might be like. You can also have current employees record short videos about what their roles are or how they used to work in-person. Another strategy is to use public information like Glassdoor reviews to address anything that might have been an issue in the past and explain how the company solved the problem. Try to anticipate what your candidate will find online out about your company culture and employer brand in order to address it truthfully.
Embracing flexibility: Many candidates are looking for roles with some degree of flexibility. After all, they might be dealing with unexpected responsibilities like child care or sharing office space at home. Come prepared with examples of how your company has been working with your staff to help them balance work and life during the pandemic. If your company was able to bend or pivot in new ways those are great stories to share. Some companies, for example, shifted to project-based work weeks to streamline productivity or allowed employees to change their hours to be more in line with their home lives. In a similar vein, if your work doesn’t have any increased flexibility these days, it’s important for a candidate to know as well.
Development and growth: Right now everyone is thinking about the future. Candidates want to join companies that can offer them some way to develop their skills in order to protect their careers against unexpected disruption. We’ve all learned the importance of being adaptable and employees are looking for ways to strengthen their abilities and shore up their weaknesses. Employee development is one way of helping employees progress while also improving employee engagement and company loyalty. Choosing the right development tool, however, is important because you want to make sure your employees are developing skills that align to the goals of your business. Helping your employees grow today can future-proof your business tomorrow. Candidates will want to hear about what sort of development program or opportunities you have available so check with HR and make sure you’re up-to-date on your offerings before your head into the interview.
Health and safety: This is an easy topic to predict a candidate will bring up in an interview. Everyone needs to know what the health and safety plan of a company is, particularly if they’re considering joining it. Will the worker be remote? Are masks covered if they’re required on-site? Candidates will want to know how employers plan to protect their health and ensure a safe workspace once they start heading back into the office. Don’t begin interviewing until you’ve checked what your most updated return to work plan looks like. Give candidates a realistic view of your company’s goals around returning to work and any potential timelines involved so that candidates can be prepared.
Candidates needs are changing
What candidates were looking for in a job months ago is not necessarily what they want anymore. The hiring process is evolving for a remote world and how we address candidate concerns should be as well. Providing a positive candidate experience is all about being prepared in advance and considering the needs of the job seeker, not just the employer. Top talent, or really anyone for that matter, is going to want reassurance that their new company will take their health and safety seriously. They’ll also want to know how life has changed as a result of the pandemic and what they can reasonably expect in a role today. Be respectful of a candidate’s time and have those answers readily available. Not only does this strengthen your interview process and improve your candidate experience, but it shows you have a good understanding of your company and a plan for the future. So next time you start getting your hiring team together, take a moment to think about your candidates. What do they need to know to make an informed decision about your company in today’s world and what’s the best way to give it to them? Making a plan now might help you hire a great candidate later.