Charting new territory: How talent search and hiring have changed

07 Jul 2020

Charting new territory: How talent search and hiring have changed

The world has changed drastically in the last few months. For employers this means rethinking everything from how to stay in touch with their employees to how to organize their workplaces in anticipation of employees’ return. In addition, organizations have had to change the way they find and bring executive leadership on board.

During this time, Odgers Berndtson has helped many organizations adjust their talent search process in light of the lockdown and travel restrictions related to COVID-19 by adopting three key strategies: virtual hiring, virtual onboarding and interim executive appointments.

Nice to e-meet you

Screening or interviewing candidates through video conferencing software was already a widespread phenomenon before the pandemic but it is ubiquitous now. Options such as Zoom, BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams have made it possible to connect with candidates and hold panel interviews without anyone leaving their homes. Even as restrictions begin to lift, it is likely that the widespread adoption of video conference technology will continue to make remote interviews an attractive and efficient choice for global firms.

The widespread adoption of video conference technology will continue to make remote interviews an attractive and efficient choice for global firms.

“On the other hand video interviews are not able to substitute live interviews. In my eyes it is essential to see the candidates live and in person. You can hardly see behind someones forehead in a two hours live interview. But how the candidate behaves in a new environment  and seeing the full body (language) is something you cannot replace with looking at a screen.”, says Olaf Szangolies, Partner in the Manufacturing Practice at Odgers Berndtson Germany.

The way candidates are being assessed by employers in this virtual environment is also changing. Some organizations are adopting innovative approaches such as online psychometric assessment or having candidates record a video of themselves before creating a short-list for interviews.

Speaking to candidates through a computer screen can be challenging. At times it’s harder to pick up on non-verbal cues and a slow internet connection can cause awkward delays. But overall, candidates find connecting with a future employer this way to be more efficient and convenient. With practice, conducting interviews this way will become second nature.

Welcome aboard

It can be daunting to bring a new hire onboard without ever having met. But both candidates and organizations are proving themselves creative and resilient in navigating this challenge.

Welcoming new employees into a remote working environment requires a modified version of the onboarding plan used in an office setting. A well thought out virtual onboarding experience is a crucial first step in creating a long-lasting and fruitful relationship with a new hire.

A well thought out virtual onboarding experience is a crucial first step in creating a long-lasting and fruitful relationship with a new hire.

Odgers Berndtson has seen some very successful examples of virtual onboarding. Some companies record short videos to introduce the team and clearly communicate the organization’s purpose and values. Some also send welcome packages with branded office supplies alongside the IT equipment and devices necessary for the new hire to perform their role.

After they’ve been in the role for a while it’s important to follow up to see if the onboarding process made them feel welcome and introduced them effectively to their new virtual working environment. That feedback can be used to evaluate and improve the onboarding process for future remote hires.

“My clients have also reported quite a bit about the changeover to virtual communication. One positive aspect is how quickly companies have adapted to virtual onboarding and changed their internal processes.“, adds Christiane Pietsch, Head of the Financial Services Practice and Partner.

The rise of the interim executive appointment

Organizations have always used interim appointments to fill critical skills gaps during times of change, crisis and growth. Such appointments ensure that organizations have access to the full complement of talent they need to sustain and grow their business. So it’s no surprise that ongoing uncertainty in markets and a need for greater flexibility has led to an increase in interim appointments during the pandemic.

Interim executive appointments ensure that organizations have access to the full complement of talent they need to sustain and grow their business.

There are a multitude of reasons why organizations would seek to put off making permanent appointments in the normal course of business but especially during these unprecedented times. Whether facilitating change, overseeing vital projects, or temporarily filling a key management position, effective interim management and independent consulting is all about embedding best practice and leaving a legacy of improvement.

In the current circumstances, many candidates are also willing to take on interim leadership roles until the dust settles. It’s not surprising, then, that the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants has observed a marked rise in both the number of interim executives that have been placed and the length of interim assignments in recent months. “In our interim company Berndtson Interim we have also experienced an increased demand during the last weeks. We are happy that we can support companies even for short-term necessities.“, says Katja Hanns-Terrill, Managing Partner at Odgers Berndtson Germany.

Organizations and candidates have faced a steep learning curve when it comes to navigating the recruitment and hiring process in a completely virtual environment. But unprecedented times like these are proving that it’s possible and organizations and candidates are making it work.