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Interview Techniques in the Post-COVID Landscape: Part 1, the Recruiter’s Perspective

Tip 1: First-round interviews should always take place online

The pandemic has taken many things away from us, but one of its blessings has been the normalisation of video calls and interviews. I have implemented the policy of always conducting the first-round interview via video, even though I am mostly working from the office these days. The main advantage is that it is far more time-efficient for everybody involved. If a candidate must travel to your office – often taking time away from their current work to do so – it is a major imposition. It is extremely awkward if you realise that the candidate is not a good fit within the first few minutes of an interview, but at least in the case of a video interview, they have not taken time off work and travelled all the way to your office. Ending a 20-minute inter

Secondly, if you are interviewing for a job that requires video calls, it provides a preview of how the candidate will be perceived in such a meeting. People who are strong in video calls are not always so strong in person, and the opposite is also true! Sometimes, people who are excellent in-person interviewers lose their “presence” or “gravitas” when confined to a video screen. While unfortunate, video calls are increasingly important for client and potential client interactions, and it is best to know of this weakness (or strength) before bringing the candidate on board.

Finally, this method saves face for the recruiter. Nothing is worse than having a candidate come in who is not a good fit for the company. We have all had it happen; we invite someone for an interview, and they show up drastically underdressed, or they are otherwise a poor fit for the company from an appearance perspective alone. Like it or not, the blame falls on you for bringing this person in, and others start to question your judgement. Being able to screen for professionalism and fit from the get-go reduces the risk to your image.

Tip 2: Learn how to sell

One of the most important aspects of your job is not to cross your Ts and dot your Is; it is to pitch your company. You are usually the first real interaction people have with your company, which makes you, at least at first, the face of your company. Surprisingly, recruiters often do not know the first thing about sales. This was always true, but it was not the end of the world for most recruiters. They could rely on the company’s name, image, or results, and they could also rely on a less-competitive job market. But being able to pitch well has become especially important as of late. Part of that has to do with the hyper-competitive job market. Microsoft recently announced that they are doubling their budgets for salaries; in most sectors, the more recent shift to remote work is giving workers many more options than in the past. Convincing people to come, and to stay, has become much more difficult, thus requiring improved sales skills.

But this newfound need to sell well also stems from changing attitudes towards work. The pandemic elicited existential crises for just about everyone. A common question was, “what am I doing with my life?” Candidates are searching for a sense of purpose, and if you can offer that to them, you will set your company apart.

Tip 3: Treat candidates with respect

This tip should not be necessary, but unfortunately, it is. So many recruiters do not treat their employees with basic respect. No, they are not treating them outright poorly – although I have heard about plenty of recruiters “ghosting” candidates – but they are also not adequately respecting their time and efforts. Respect often shows up when it comes to the little things. For example, it is quite easy to let a candidate know when they can expect to hear from you. If you have your act together, you should be able to let them know during each interview when they can expect to hear back, whether positive or negative. Even if you do not have a conclusive update for them, you need to let them know that there is no update and that you will be reaching out to them soon. Candidates crave information, and you need to be able to provide that to them.

Outside of developing the ability to sell, it is not that difficult for a recruiter to perform better than their peers. These tips are easy to implement, but they will have massive impacts on the overall recruitment experience of your company’s candidates.