Maggie Hulce, is senior vice president and GM of enterprise at Indeed. Views are the authors' own.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the world of work. New research shows that 77% of employers surveyed said they are now open to hiring talent outside of their local market, while 71% are offering more flexibility than they were pre-pandemic. Employers open to providing employees with remote work options are finding unexpected benefits — 55% said they receive more applicants, 44% said it helps reduce operational costs and 65% reported it improved workforce diversity.
As employers implement or consider a hybrid or remote-only future, they also are having to adapt their hiring processes to be more virtual so they can provide candidates with equal opportunity whether they are hiring for roles in their market or not. Many are looking for virtual only hiring practices or at the very least conducting virtual interviews. This adoption really accelerated during the pandemic — on Indeed, the demand for virtual interviews increased by 1000% within the first two months of lockdowns — and is only expected to increase, with 93% of employers saying they plan to continue conducting virtual interviews and make hires virtually even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
As employers adopt more virtual-first hiring practices, it is important for them to think about how they can create and deliver thoughtful virtual candidate experiences that will allow applicants to get a real sense of the job and what it would be like working at the company. Some tips for employers looking to create candidate experiences that stand out in a virtual-first world include the following.
- Screen only for required skills to start. Many job seekers will abandon applications processes that are too long or complex. They also complain that hiring processes are too slow and impersonal. By focusing only on the most essential screening criteria at the start, employers can ensure a more efficient and transparent process for candidates.
- Use virtual experiences to provide a glimpse into the role and company culture. When bringing candidates into the office is not an option, companies are bringing the office to candidates virtually. A pre-recorded office tour, greeting from the hiring manager, or day-in-the-role video can give candidates a more tangible sense of what it’s actually like to work there.
Transparency about the role and the company also extends to salary information. That same research shows that 83% of employers are being more transparent about salary, perks and benefits in job descriptions, with 96% of employers saying adding new perks or benefits has had a positive impact on attracting talent.
- Be flexible about how and when you conduct interviews. There's no question the interview remains a highly valued part of the hiring process. During the pandemic, many employers found the switch to interviewing virtually — whether via video or phone — saved time for both employers and job seekers.
Beyond time savings, virtual interviews also help support employer goals to build more inclusive hiring processes. Online interviews offer more flexibility for candidates as they no longer have to take time off to commute for in-person interviews or arrange extra childcare. Companies can take this flexibility a step further by providing even more candidate-friendly options, such as after-hours interviews.
- Mobile-optimize the candidate experience. Companies with mobile optimized application processes reach more candidates and reduce drop off. On Indeed, 72% of applications are submitted using mobile devices. We also find that employers with mobile optimized applications receive up to four times more applications as those without. Keep your job descriptions concise and your applications short to enhance mobile-friendliness.
- Set clear expectations. Keep candidates informed about the steps of the hiring process and the anticipated waiting time between steps. Proactively and regularly updating candidates on their status reduces drop off, given candidates do not have to wonder about where they stand.
Of employers who have implemented virtual hiring practices, 79% say it has made it easier to manage the hiring process from start to finish. Those who create engaging, compact, mobile optimized experiences also see faster time to hire and less candidate drop off. Lastly, these virtual approaches make it easier to engage diverse candidates — a priority for many employers.