Recruitment Training for a Virtual World

By Lin Grensing-Pophal April 12, 2021
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woman doing video interview

Virtual interviews can convey organizational culture and provide a first impression of your company. How those interviews are handled can also prevent legal pitfalls.

But too often, companies overlook the need to train staff conducting these interviews. That training is critical to ensure that the best hiring choices are being made and that companies steer clear of legal risks.

Making the Shift to a Virtual Hiring Environment

During the pandemic's social distancing requirements, Cornerstone OnDemand has "had to rethink the hiring process to reflect a 100 percent remote model," said Brianna Foulds, associate vice president, talent systems, operations and acquisition, at the HR technology company. That has required new ways to train employees to recruit, she said.

"For starters, we worked on enabling our recruiters to help their hiring managers pivot from in-person to video interviews," she explained. "We launched virtual training curriculum and hosted mock interviews, online trainings and open mic sessions to ensure our leaders felt comfortable with this updated process. We identified quickly that we needed to ensure interviewers were equipped to assess skills thoroughly by using virtual collaboration tools and providing them adequate preparation."

Ony Beverly is chief human resources officer at IP law firm Marshall Gerstein & Borun in Chicago. The firm quickly adapted its processes to interview and onboard virtually, Beverly said. "Our current interview process includes a behavioral-based panel interview, so our first step was to train our interviewers on utilizing video meeting platforms to conduct this style of face-to-face interview." That involved training on how to use the platform as well as how to adapt it to the organization's existing process, she explained.

For example, the firm creates individual video calls for each stage of the interview. When candidates reach the panel phase, the firm uses the waiting room feature to ensure all interviewers are in the virtual room prior to bringing the candidate in. "We also discussed technological housekeeping items, such as turning your video off briefly when experiencing bandwidth issues so that the audio is clearer, connecting to the video through audio on the phone versus the computer, and utilizing the chat feature to ask a question," she said.

At EY, all team members involved in the interview process are required to take the firm's course "Recruiting Top Talent Behavioral Based Interviewing," said Larry Nash, EY U.S. recruiting leader. It's a course that was offered onsite even before the pandemic. Today, the four-hour course is being refreshed and transformed into a combination of virtual instructor-led training and Web-based learning, Nash said.

A Focus on Training Best Practices

At Cornerstone, training is primarily being delivered through prerecorded online videos and videoconferencing. However, Foulds stressed, "it's important not to ignore the social aspects of trainings." Consequently, she said, Cornerstone includes multiple breaks in the training process so team members can give one another feedback and connect on nonwork-related topics.

Diversity, equity and inclusion issues are an important element of EY's interviewer training, Nash said. Teams are trained to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias during the interview process and to interview with compassion and empathy—especially during these challenging times. They recognize that "working from home may include wearing many hats and dealing with distractions," he said.

"Preparing your team and shifting to a virtual hiring experience is ongoing and best approached from multiple angles, usually requiring technology, automation, guidance and training," Foulds said. "We continue to evolve these programs as we see changes with the current hiring environment."

Impacts on the Hiring Process

At EY, training isn't offered only to staff members involved in the interview process; job candidates are also offered training "to ensure they feel comfortable and prepared for the virtual interviewing process," Nash said.

"This virtual experience offers our candidates greater flexibility, consistency and a reduced need for multiple interviews," he said. "It also allows organizations to make faster decisions about an individual's candidacy."

Cornerstone's enhanced approach to training a remote workforce means "we're using more services and technologies than ever before, and we're using analytics tools to source candidates," Foulds said. "Although there are benefits to using artificial intelligence technologies, nothing can replace the personalization of the human connection, and increasingly the hiring process is a strategic hybrid of the two."

In any hiring environment, effective communication is critical. That's arguably even more the case in a virtual environment.

"Using tools like Zoom, chatbots, Teams, Slack, Pomodoro apps, training platforms, Dropbox or other document-sharing tools can make sure you are effectively communicating the latest training and best practices with employees," Foulds said. She recommended providing team members with collaboration tools, Q&A sessions, and interview and assessment guides. 

"Many companies used the virtual environment as a reason to analyze their operations and to rethink who they are and how they work," Nash said. "The same can be true for the talent attraction and acquisition space. As we look to the future and what's next, we'll continue to embrace the changes that worked well during the pandemic to further enhance the candidate experience."

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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