How Virtual HR is changing the company playbook

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Despite the tough market conditions, brought on by Covid19, companies still need to recruit, — and often quickly. With businesses opening up again and with companies having to adapt to the current situation we also naturally see an increase in the demand for certain roles.

Online shopping platforms such as Amazon and logistics companies like DPD are some of those who are on large recruitment drives around the world, to pick up in the new demand for online shopping which will likely remain long after the Covid19 pandemic subsides.

Whatever field you are in, however, your normal company HR manual will probably need an update moving forward: Hello Virtual HR.

Virtual hiring helps reduce the risks of exposure to the pandemic, enabling employers with high-volume, hiring requirements to more safely prescreen, schedule and interview candidates at scale. In fact, 86% of organisations are now using virtual hiring technologies to acquire new talent, according to an April 2020 Gartner poll of HR leaders.

Here’s what you need to know about virtual hiring for your workforce needs.

Benefits of Virtual HR

Digital tools and platforms minimise health risks by greatly reducing, if not eliminating, the need for face-to-face interactions that typically occur during the hiring process. Other benefits include:

  • Increased efficiency for candidates and TA professionals. Recruiters and hiring managers can interview more candidates in less time, speeding up the hiring process and potentially yielding better results. Tools such as virtual job fairs, online assessments and virtual job tryouts can help employers more efficiently handle interviews and candidate screening at scale.

  • Decreased cost per hire. Virtual hiring’s faster time to hire and onboard new employees reduces your overall cost per hire. Automating some manual tasks, such as scheduling interviews with candidates, can reduce the time recruiters spend on seasonal hiring initiatives.

  • Wider candidate pool. With virtual hiring, employers can consider candidates for temporary remote work positions, such as customer service representatives, with less concern for traditional geographical constraints. Let’s say your call centre employees will be working from home instead of onsite at a call centre. This allows you to look further afield for candidates, thereby widening your potential talent pool.

  • Reduced ghosting. When unemployment rates remained low and the labour market was highly competitive, ghosting was a big problem. A 2019 report found that 83% of companies experienced no-shows for scheduled interviews or new hires who failed to appear for their first day. 

However, virtual hiring technology can help reduce ghosting by automating and streamlining initial communications (such as RSVPs) between applicants and hiring managers and recruiters. And because virtual hiring helps save candidates’ time and effort, talent professionals have reported a reduction in ghosting. (In June and July 2020, Indeed conducted a global research project, interviewing 26 TA professionals in US, Canada, UK, France and the Netherlands about how COVID-19 has changed the talent acquisition process.)

  • Better interview panels. In some cases, particularly for high-level hires, multiple people may need to interview a candidate at one time. Assembling a diverse panel of the most appropriate interviewers — especially when your company’s workforce is dispersed — may be logistically easier to accomplish virtually, which can, in turn, yield better results.

A few inherent challenges to hiring virtually

Regardless of technologies used, virtual hiring comes with a few inherent challenges:

  • Lack of confidence in hiring decisions. Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t always comfortable hiring someone without meeting them in person, even if that person is filling a temporary, seasonal job. In fact, according to interviews conducted for Indeed’s global research project, some employers still conduct the final part of the hiring process in-person. Most recruiters aren’t accustomed to making hiring decisions under these circumstances. So, it’s up to them to get over the fear of making a bad decision, and to learn to better assess candidates interviewed virtually.

Not being used to interviewing virtually, it is understandable that people can have a fear of making bad decisions. In fact virtual communication lacks many non-verbal and other subtle signals usually used for evaluating a candidate. Getting used to new mediums of communication via practice and training can equip recruiters with the needed skills and help them regain confidence in this new situation.

  • Logistics. Hiring virtually can present logistical puzzles or limitations to figure out. While virtual hiring can help you reach a more diverse candidate, it can also limit interviewing for candidates without access to high-speed internet or necessary hardware. And there are additional logistical considerations to make after making the hire: Companies need to adjust their onboarding processes for remote workers, distribute needed equipment and virtually set up access to systems. While none of these challenges are insurmountable, all should be factored into your planning. 

For many, virtual hiring is here to stay

“Before COVID-19, many recruiters and hiring managers hadn’t experienced virtual hiring and didn’t necessarily know to ask for virtual hiring tools,” says William Tincup, president of RecruitingDaily. “That changed when the pandemic and remote work forced them to work virtually.”

“Now that they’ve used virtual hiring tools, a lot of recruiters don’t want to go back to the old ways,” he says. “Once you’ve driven a Ferrari, you don’t want to go back to a horse and buggy.”

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