Who would have thought at the turn of the year that a virus would present the global economy with such serious challenges? No matter whether it’s a small business or a large corporation – Corona is catching us all off guard. Is recruiting even worth thinking about in this time of crisis?
Corona – how TÜV Rheinland responded
Despite the current situation, it is essential for TÜV Rheinland to get good employees on board. The recruiting clock does not stand still. How has everyday life in recruiting changed?
When the first signs of corona appeared in Germany, TÜV Rheinland immediately initiated important measures. In addition to the installation of numerous new disinfection stations at important touch points – for example, at entrances and exits or in the canteen – “handshaking” for greetings was also prohibited, both among colleagues and with externs.
Shaking hands? No, thanks!
If we put ourselves in the position of an applicant who runs towards his or her contact person with extended hands and then receives a rejection with the remark “we are not shaking hands at the moment”, we can well imagine the confusion. This is a strange situation, since shaking hands is internalised in our culture. It is considered impolite to refuse to shake hands with someone. In such situations, education is called for. An explanation is absolutely necessary to make it clear that the rejection was not due to the person, but to the situation. “When they say safety- they mean it!” was how one applicant reacted to my explanation. Very apt, I thought.
Not shaking hands also had an icebreaker effect: in Corona a common small talk topic was quickly found alongside the classic question “Did you arrive safely?”
Challenge in the home office
In recent weeks, the effects of corona have become much more noticeable and the infection rate has increased rapidly. In order not to endanger the health of the employees at TÜV Rheinland, numerous employees were instructed to work in the home office. We recruiters had to get used to this new working environment quickly.
Of course this is not a new world. Some recruiting colleagues already took advantage of the opportunity to work in the home office before the crisis. However, remote working was limited to a few days. Tasks were done in peace and quiet and did not require any coordination or meetings. If we take a look at the typical tasks in recruiting, the challenge becomes clear. Recruiters should generate recruitments. Interviews are conducted to select applicants.
What are the characteristics of an interview? Coordination and meetings are required. And we are already at the biggest change in recruiting activity.
Interview via video chat
Social Distancing requires to avoid social contacts in private as well as professional contexts. Inviting a candidate to a personal interview at the company is therefore out of place. However, canceling all the candidates’ already scheduled interviews and putting them off until the “post-Corona period” was definitely not an option for us. The solution: telephone or video conferencing.
Even before the Corona pandemic, initial interviews were conducted by telephone or video conference. Now this is our standard. Fortunately, we at TÜV Rheinland are equipped with the necessary equipment to conduct video-based interviews from the home office from one day to the next. Our candidates were thankfully very understanding. It quickly became apparent – video conferences are a very good alternative.
Video interviews – things to consider
The feedback from the candidates and from the departments is positive. While the face-to-face interview was the only solution for a long time, it is now becoming apparent that hiring decisions can also be made unconventionally on the basis of video-based interviews. An important prerequisite is mutual, open, and transparent communication about expectations, wishes, and general conditions, so that decisions can be made by both candidates and managers. We recruiters must therefore describe the TÜV Rheinland world in as many words and pictures as possible, so that the candidate gets a complete overall picture of the company, the corporate culture, and the team spirit.
This also means planning more time and patience for the job interviews, for example, to compensate for interruptions in the interview due to technical problems ( to which each of us is exposed) or to be able to answer more questions about the company, the team or the job.
We have been discussing the increased use of video interviews within the department for some time. The current situation is suitable as a trial phase, from which we can draw conclusions about the advantages of using virtual interviews, what can or must be optimized and whether the tool we are currently using is the right one. So all in all a spontaneous but definitely exciting project!
Making use of time savings for further education
For me personally, work and private life are increasingly merging due to the permanent home office and social distancing situation. So why not serve work and private life on both sides? My recommendation: reading.
That’s how I spend my spare time and at the same time educate myself on recruiting related topics. Which topic is on my agenda? “Google for Jobs” is finding more and more supporters. I am curious about the advantages this platform promises. So I ordered a book about “Google for Jobs” and how I benefit from it in recruiting. Let’s see what conclusions I draw from this.
Franziska Scharpel is a recruiter specialized in the IT sector. From cybersecurity experts and consultants for cybersecurity services to specialists for functional safety and operational technology. Software developers and IT project managers also belong to Franziska’s target group. Every morning, the TÜV Tower, which is only two kilometres away, shines a light on the Cologne-based woman. At the same time, she studies business psychology alongside her job. As a real summer person, she is drawn to the Rhine outside in good weather with a psychological thriller book or to the garden for a barbecue with friends and family.