Employer Interviewing Tips During COVID-19

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The corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic is a global concern resulting in a number of changes to our day to day lives; with things evolving every day as new developments come to light.  Employers, from the skilled trades, “blue collar” industries, to corporate Wall Street organizations have had to adapt and implement new work policies (i.e. working from home, client interaction, etc.) and health & safety policies just to name a few. 

A company’s recruitment, interviewing, and hiring strategy is no different.  Hiring manager will need to adapt and adjust to new hiring trends that will likely become the new “normal” for all parties involved as this virus continues.  We have already seen a number of our residential, commercial, and industrial HVAC/R clients all across North America implement new interviewing techniques or ask us how they can continue their recruitment efforts to hire qualified Service Technicians, Installers, Fitters, or Management positions while still keeping their current employees and the potential candidate safe. 

Below are some interviewing tips and recommended practices for employers during COVID-19.

VIRTUAL INTERVIEWS

1. Phone Interviews

Rather than delaying the hiring process, start with a phone interview first to qualify and assess the candidates experience, skill set, wage expectations, and availability for shift schedules.

2. Virtual Video Interviews

Another option that provides flexibility to both the candidate and the hiring manager is virtual one-way videos.  There are many virtual interview platforms available on the market that allow you to choose the questions you want the Service Technician, Installer, Fitter, or Manager to answer, review their recorded answers, and send out interview invitations. 

If you don’t have the time or resources to complete a large volume of phone interviews or utilize video platforms – where you still need the time to view candidates answers – using a contingency recruitment firm that specializes in the HVAC/R trade, like Rockstar HVAC, can help streamline the hiring process by presenting only qualified candidates based on your requirements and let you focus on your business operation.

3. Live Video Interviews

Now that you have a qualified candidate from a phone or virtual video interview or presented from a recruiter, a live video interview could take the place of a traditional face-to-face interview. There are many video conference platforms available, some of which your organization may already use, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Facetime, BlueJeans, etc.  By using platforms and apps already used at your company, you can include other hiring decision-makers who are also working remotely.  Employers and hiring managers should keep in mind whatever live video platform they use, that it is also easy for the candidate to access (i.e. link) or download and can test the camera and microphone prior to their interview.

PREPARING FOR LIVE INTEVIEWS

BE PREPARED

While there are some differences between in-person and video interviews, there is still fundamental interview prep that owners, HR personnel, Service or Operations Managers must follow. 

Make sure you and any other interviewer is familiar with the candidate’s resume, job description, shift, wages, and overall compensation offering. Have a prepared set of interview questions on hand, and if there are multiple interviewers sitting in on the video, follow a shared agenda. Test your equipment and any technology you are using to make sure its functioning properly.  Shut down unnecessary tabs and software apps on your computer to avoid delays in video delivery

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Whether you are working in the office or remotely, choose a room that is quiet and well lit to be easily seen and heard. Make sure the background is simple and free from any distractions or clutter.  Where possible, use a room with a closed door to reduce any background noise and prevent any pets from coming in and out of the room. 

Avoid completing video interviews in your car or favorite café because the noise and scenery can be very distracting.  Similar to in-person interviews, put your phone on silent before the interview starts.

CAMERA & POSITIONING       

Prior to the interview, position the camera to frame you from the chest up with your face centered and at eye-level.

Maintaining good eye contact is one of the most important elements of body language, particularly since that’s what they’ll be able to see.  When speaking, look directly into the camera instead of the candidate so that on their end, you’re making direct eye contact and not looking down.  Avoid looking around the room as it will give the impression you are disengaged and not interested.

Be friendly, smile, and nod as you’re listening to create a positive experience and help the candidate feel relaxed.

DRESS CODE

While it may be tempting to wear your pj’s or bathrobe – don’t.  Wear whatever clothes you would normally wear if you were in office conducting an in-person interview. Keep in mind as you are on camera, it would be best to wear solid and more neutral colors.  Typically clothes that are too bright or with too many patterns can be distracting to the eye.

GIVE THE CANDIDATE TIME

Remember you are dealing with technology and there may be some time lag, so be sure to ‘pause’ after a candidate is finished with their response.

COMMUNICATE

Communicating with potential candidates during every stage of the interview process is essential to keeping them informed and interested in the position; plus, reduce the chance of them ghosting you.  During these unprecedented times, it’s vital for candidates to feel their time and efforts are valued.

REINFORCE COMPANY BRAND

In all stages of the hiring and recruitment process, interviewers and recruiters need to convey a consistent message about your company’s mission, core values, and culture.

IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS

If you can’t avoid doing an in-person interview, there are precautions and steps you can do to ensure a positive and safe experience for all.

EXPECTATIONS

Prior to the onsite interview, provide clear and specific interview instructions for the potential candidate (and all interviewers), which may include:

  • Name/title of everyone they will be meeting
  • Visitor parking location
  • Building entrance they should use
  • On-site health checks performed (i.e. temperature checks, health check list, etc.)
  • Enforcing no personal contact (i.e. handshakes)
  • Rescheduling instructions if they are not feeling well.  The CDC has a list of coronavirus symptoms to look out for and when you may need to seek medical help

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Follow the guidelines as set out by the CDC and your local and federal authorities. Some of these include:

  • Avoiding close contact and making sure your interview space allows you to maintain at least 6 feet of separation between all parties
  • Cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, desks, chairs, tables, phones, countertops, etc.
  • Frequently washing your hands and having hand sanitizer readily available for use for all parties

HEALTH SCREEN PRE-INTERVIEW

When scheduling an in-person interview, screen the candidate for any possible health concerns by asking these questions:

  • Have you recently traveled to a known COVID spread area or been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
  • Are you experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms outlined by the CDC?

If the candidate or the interviewer(s) answers yes to either of those questions, postpone the interview accordingly.

Employers, we hope you found these interviewing tips and best practices useful, particularly during these challenging times.  Don’t hesitate to call us at 1-833-937-3546 or email info@rockstarrecruiting.ca if you need help hiring rockstar HVAC professionals!

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