Maintaining A Talent Pipeline During Covid-19

by Gretchen R. Crist

In the spirit of sharing as we all navigate new ways of working, I am beginning to sense a shift in the daily conversations across businesses.  While ensuring employees and their families are safe is, of course, still the priority discussion, leaders are beginning to come to terms with the “new normal” and how to find solutions for external audiences like candidates and new hires.  Not only is this crisis an opportunity to rethink how we work but, also, how we hire.

While many companies are being very selective about which positions to fill during this pandemic or imposing hiring freezes, there will inevitably be exceptions for key strategic and/or uniquely skilled hires.

Moreover, there has never been a more important time to put a fine point on workforce planning then now by ensuring you have the best possible talent on your team and are well positioned as things return to normal.

I think it is fair to say we are all very accustomed and somewhat dogmatic about assessing cultural fit via face-to-face interaction. However, it is times like now that force us to be more open minded and creative. Personally, I have found video meetings over the last couple of weeks to be more engaging and revealing of one’s personality than I would have thought prior to this crisis.

That said, I wanted to share what I have learned from my network of HR colleagues over the last couple of weeks that I believe will be helpful in adjusting to virtual hiring practices and ensure you can keep your talent pipeline filled during these uncertain times.

Filling the Void for Face to Face Interaction

Request that candidates submit with their resume a supplemental video where candidates share who they are, their personal interests outside of work, families, etc.  Said another way, their own personal advertisement.  This brings a higher level of engagement to the process and surely gives the interviewer a view into the candidate’s communication, presentation skills and overall personal style and how they may or may not fit a company’s culture.

Prepare Hiring Managers

Ensure hiring managers have an advance set of questions around company values which will enable a deeper probe into culture fit.

Screening for Agility, Initiative and Ambiguity

The current crisis calls for leaders who can act with agility and deal with ambiguity.

Be sure to utilize behavioral interviewing techniques such as asking for examples of where and how they’ve dealt with ambiguity in the past.

Additionally, assessing one’s aptitude for taking initiative is also critical especially if remote working extends for a longer period.  A good way of probing one’s ability to operate in an uncertain environment is to ask the candidate for an example of the hardest job duty they had to learn in their role and how did they go about accomplishing it.

Upping The Game on Candidate Experience

The candidate’s experience is just as important with virtual interviewing as it is for face-to-face interviewing and possibly even more so.  Be open and transparent with the candidate that virtual interviewing is new to your organization.  Ask for their patience as you work through it together.  The candidate will likely fully appreciate the honesty and humility and grant you some grace if things don’t go perfectly.

Closing A Candidate

Exhibiting creativity in closing a candidate is a great way to show the personality of your company.  Ask team members to produce a short video on why the role is critical to the team and why they believe the final candidate would be a great fit.  This approach is probably even more effective than the typical phone calls team members would normally make to final candidates to welcome them to the team.


So here you have a few ideas on how to keep recruiting active and effective while we navigate through this crisis.  Even if you don’t go through with making a candidate an offer you will at least be further ahead in the process versus waiting until the social distancing restrictions ease.  Additionally, you will likely find that passive candidates are more interested in exploring opportunities during these uncertain times resulting in likely a larger and more diverse talent pool.   We are experiencing difficult times and I think it is fair to say that everyone is reassessing everything in their lives.  Nonetheless, this is a great time for recruiters to capitalize on this moment.

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