Interview: Hiring in an uncertain economy

For most, the impact of the novel Coronavirus has meant significant change to almost every aspect of daily life.

Unfortunately for many, it has also cost them their job. As our economy comes back to life, so too must millions of roles left vacant by the pandemic.

To an HR professional, that means one thing: hiring new candidates to fill those roles.

Wonderlic’s Kati Lechner, Organizational Learning and Development Manager, was new to recruiting during the 2008 economic crash, and worked for one of the most well-known tech retailers in the world. She explains how including assessment as part of a larger hiring process can help shoulder a significant amount of the talent acquisition. Here it is, broken into three parts:

1. Different kinds of resumes

In the aftermath of 2008, companies saw a serious influx of resumes that had almost zero experience within their industry.

“We were seeing new kinds of resumes and thinking, ‘Holy cow! We actually get to interview these people?’ We were starstruck and heavily influenced by the halo effect of these candidates.” Lechner explains. “I learned the hard way though, you don’t always get what you need from a resume. These candidates seemed amazing on paper. But once hired, they couldn’t always keep up with the fast paced learning environment required of a tech company.”

All HR professionals could use the term “halo effect” at one time or another. It’s that feeling you get from a glowing resume- a seemingly perfect candidate that appears out of nowhere. Hiring them immediately seems like the only option, although it may not be the wisest.

Hiring based on a unique resume can go either way. Using an assessment would have helped Lechner determine which candidates to hire based on their potential. The flip side of the coin could hold wildly successful candidates who flourished in their new professional environment. Understanding candidate potential, regardless of whether their resume showed a natural ‘fit’, could have shown her that.

The problem was she didn’t know who would thrive and who would be throttled by the competitive, fast-paced organization. Lechner says this is where assessments could’ve been useful. Instead of relying on her gut, an assessment tool could have given her insight into who the truly qualified candidates were.

2. Applicants of all backgrounds

“With so many people suddenly out of work, we were inundated with applicants. There was no way to tell who we should interview and who to let go for another opportunity. We’d have to dive in and start reviewing resumes, never quite sure if we were seeing the best candidates in the pool. The reality of our situation was that the economy, and the lure of our brand, were drawing in all kinds of people. We knew we were leaving qualified people on the table because we just didn’t have the bandwidth to review everyone,” says Lechner.

As soon as the economy’s gears start grinding again, there will be thousands of applicants for any and all open positions. Using an assessment tool helps sort who should be interviewed. Lechner’s team could have used assessment as a tool to find top talent, regardless of resume experience. But that’s not the only benefit:

“They don’t get tired! Assessments can handle an infinite volume of applicants, and if we’d used one, we may have hired more qualified people for our open jobs. They show an in-depth look at someone’s cognitive ability, motivation, and personality. These factors can help predict job success, and you’re more confident in their potential to do the job you’re hiring for, regardless of what’s listed on their resume.”

3. The economic alphabet

No one actually knows where the economy is headed following this pandemic. However, speculations indicate a short-term bounce back in either a V or W shape, leading to a peak that shoots toward the sky. If that’s the case, it’s in the hiring professional’s best interest to beat their competition up that hill.

“I’ve definitely been in situations before where it’s not the right time to hire yet, and a hiring manager doesn’t want to see any candidates. As frustrating as that is, and as much as I know that situation will change quickly and we’ll want to have people ready to hire the moment the switch flips, if a hiring manager won’t interview, you’ve got to listen,” Lechner laughs before pointing out the silver lining: “Even if you can’t interview candidates, an assessment tool allows HR teams to get the preliminary vetting out of the way, so that when the switch flips, you’re putting the best candidates forward.”

It can take a while to go through resumes and pick out the candidates that seem like the best fit. In an unstable economy, that time is precious. With millions of people out of work, candidates will be flocking to any and all organizations that are still hiring. If you’re not one of those companies, you’re at risk of losing the best candidates for your position. Assessment tools allow you to get your hiring process started, even if you’re unable to interview.

Improve your COVID-19 hiring performance.

As COVID-19 has turned the talent landscape upside down, you’re likely seeing a flood of unique resumes for every position. Regardless of whether you’ve seen business increase, discovered new definitions for ‘business as usual,’ or are trying to find a new normal as your business reopens, one thing is certain: it’s up to HR professionals to stay ahead of the curve.

It’s possible to give yourself an advantage. Adding assessment to your hiring toolkit not only helps your company but also helps put people back to work by allowing you to hire the best candidates for your open positions. Assessments like WonScore provide in-depth candidate insights based on data, so when the frenzy of applicant selection starts, you can be confident in who you hire.

Published: June 18, 2020

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