How to Make Your Hiring Strategy Pandemic-Proof

Premierehire Executive search and leadership strategies

COVID19 has certainly changed the recruiting landscape. Here are eight recruiting strategies and best practices that can help you fill key roles. Although the curve may be flattening, recruiting is still a challenge with lock downs, travel bans, and remote working. Candidates are also reluctant to take risks to move companies, especially if they are still being paid or are on, what is hopefully, a short-term furlough.

 1. First reassess your hiring priorities and formalize a remote on-boarding process:

Prioritize Roles– Many businesses and processes have had to adapt and what was critical a few months ago might not be critical today. Check back in with hiring managers and leadership to ensure your efforts are focused on the top priorities. Determine which roles can start remote and how long they can be productive without coming into the office or worksite. A quick matrix will help you determine which roles you can move forward on.

Remote on-boarding– Before you engage top talent, strategize with your teams on how to onboard a new person fully remote. Don’t fumble this one as you may create some buyer’s remorse on the candidates part or frustrate his/her ability to be productive right away. Everyone needs to be engaged and committed to helping a new hire be successful. Create action items and accountability for the team so they know what to do to help create a positive experience for the new hire. Avoid the out of sight, out of might challenge with an already stressed and busy team.

Assign a dedicated person as a mentor or host to ensure the new hire feels welcome and is able to get up to speed quickly. This role can facilitate key items like connecting the new hire with people they need to know, making sure they are on track with their training plan and know how to use the company knowledge base, and that their tools are working to connect easily with peers and SMEs. It is a great idea to also recognize this person’s role and announce this along with the new hire announcement.

2. Do not stop building your pipeline

This pandemic will end and you will need to fill roles fast. With many people side-lined, including top performers, now is a great time to reach out and build connections. Don’t be too forward but make a genuine connection based on congratulating them on an accomplishment you saw in social media, a shared interest or group, shared alumni or acquaintances, or just asking them how they are managing in today’s challenging world.

3. Focus on top performers to maximize each hire plus how to identify one

Maximize the potential outcomes by focusing on top performers. Top performers are not only good at their daily responsibilities but also great team players that take initiatives to improve things. Top performers are five to eight times as productive as average performers. Your recruitment strategies should focus on finding such candidates and not just sifting through resumes and applicants to determine the best of a pile. The top of the pile may be the best relative to others, but they may not be the star performer who will make a world of difference on your team. Of course, a star performer will cost more compared to average performers, but the cost spent is much less in comparison to the productivity gain you reap and you need people capable of successfully navigating through a downturn and recovery.

But how do you identify a top performer? Do so by thoroughly understanding past accomplishments. Investigate the role they played, their initiative, their problem solving, their resolve and their ability to manage in stressful or pressure situations. Then, test this insight and information for consistency across interviewers and references. To be able to best compare notes and candidates, recruiters and/or hiring managers should develop a systematic approach with structured interview questions and multiple rounds for assessing candidates for their motivation, values, aptitude, work ethic and overall culture fit.

Once a candidate is in the final rounds conduct an in-depth psychometric assessment. This is not for a yes or no decision, but to generate investigative questions to provide deeper insight into the candidate and how they will fit into your team and culture. This also helps to build greater rapport and will be valuable for new hires and their manager and/or teams get to know each other faster. It is especially helpful to have an intentional ‘get to know each other’ process when we are unable to have lunches, team activities or general chats in the hallway.

4. Tips to take your interview process online

Shift your regular interviewing system to video interviewing. We suggest you still conduct initial interviews by telephone. The next step is usually a face-to-face interview, but video interviews are a good substitute. Video is better than a second telephone interview as you can have a more natural conversation and it will help build better rapport between the candidate and the hiring manager.

The key to a good video interview is that you are well prepared with your questions and objectives and have tested out your technology. Choose a quiet, distraction-free environment and avoid multitasking. One advantage of video is that you can record a call for sharing, but make sure you obtain a candidate’s permission first and let them know how it will be used.

Panel interviews are possible on video but, just like in person, are not recommended if you are working to attract top talent. It is better to enable the candidate and each interviewer to build rapport, which is hard to achieve on a panel. A panel can feel too formal, says something about your culture whether accurate or not, and may turn off some candidates.

5. Formalize work from home flexibility to be an ongoing benefit (and a critical tip)

The ability to work from home even if only a few days is considered a perk to most candidates so begin to formally assess your roles and make it official which roles will have the flexibility of work from home either full or part time even after the pandemic. You are probably discovering that you have more positions than you realized that can function on a remote basis. It is critical to document the parameters and policy used to asses which roles can work from home so as not to expose the company to discrimination charges or create animosity within the ranks. How you assess a roles ability to work from home must be applied consistently across roles and people.

Hopefully, mandatory remote work is a temporary situation, but no one knows what the reality is, and it might be an ongoing up and down issue. Fortunately, studies have shown that remote workers on average stay in their jobs longer and are more productive than office-bound employees. Most of the challenges for companies come in compliance, accountability, and potential discrimination all of which can be managed with good policy and management. So do your homework and learn from best practices. There is a plethora of knowledge online including extensive libraries and consultants provided by your insurance providers.

Travel events and budgets can also be reassessed to determine what can be done remote and what is more valuable in person. Keep in mind that travel and in person networking may be highly valued by some so taking it away permanently will be like taking away a perk.

6. Tips to Secure the deal

The process of extending a job offer remains unchanged as before the pandemic. Contact the candidate via a telephone or a video to extend an offer and outline the details. After the call send the offer letter or contract via email. Use an e-signature tool like DocuSign which allows the candidate to sign the job offer letter online making the process easy and hassle free for both you and the candidate.

If the candidate is unsure about making a move during these times make sure you address them. If a hire date needs to be delayed due to current restrictions make sure an offer is agreed to leaving only the start date open. Treat the candidate almost like a new employee by providing regular company updates and make sure someone is touching base every week via phone or video.

7. Do your On-boarding exceptionally well – it really counts now

After spending so much time accessing, interviewing, and winning your new hire, do not allow your efforts to go in vein by delivering a below average on-boarding experience. Effective on-boarding requires careful planning and execution.

The main goal of on-boarding is to help the new hire adjust to the goals and inner workings of your company and to get productive and have an impact as quickly as possible. Prioritise your on-boarding activities that enable participation like setting up hardware and access to team collaborations tools. As always ensure you clarify your expectations of the role, organisational protocols and procedures, and provide a timeline. Studies show that excellent employee on-boarding consistently results in increased retention rates.

8. Minimizing Candidate risk – One solution with contracting

Until you can effectively recruit and fill roles you may want to balance your team with permanent and contract workers. Contact workers don’t require the extent of on-boarding and setting up of perks and benefits, and their work can be project limited. This will save but budget dollars but also minimizes the risk of a bad hire. If your project extends you can also extend your contracted employees. This approach acts like a try before your buy where you learn the capability of the candidate based on their work. Many good candidates might also prefer a contract, especially in these unpredictable times, so they can check you out and maintain their flexibility for other opportunities if they are not sure about long term fit.

If you need some extra help, Premierehire can provide you with a free consultation to determine how we could support your recruiting and leadership development strategies. Contact Leanne at (760)579-0248 ext 730 or

The Author

Leanne Abraham helps leaders and teams reach higher levels of performance and fulfillment in their work.

Leanne serves as an executive & team coach, facilitator, leadership trainer, and talent advisor. Her coaching, tools, and proven processes elevate organizational health, growth, and transformation to attract great people and build great places to work because ‘people are the point’.

She and her team also help organizations find and retain top people with their 4 Phase Executive Search and New Leader Integration Solutions.

Leanne has over 25 years of executive leadership experience and is a certified executive and team coach (EMCC). She is a certified coach for Birkman Leadership and Career Assessments and has extensive training with the Adizes Institute for Organizational Transformation, Robbins Madanes Intervention coaching, the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Global Team Coaching Institute (GTCI). She also has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Business from UBC.

Leanne serves clients throughout the US and Canada, ranging in size and industry.

If you are looking to elevate your team, your leadership, or your career, please send an email or book a complimentary consult.

Subscribe to our Blog

Receive the latest blogs on how to build a great team, grow leaders, and excel as a leader

You have successfully subscribed and we have sent you a confirmation email!