Recruiting—the process of hiring the most suitable person for a vacant position in an organization—has never been an easy task. The recruiter has to identify the job vacancy, analyze the job requirements, review applications, screen applicants, shortlist the most qualified candidates, and finally, select the right candidate.
After all, the stakes are high. Hiring the wrong person for the job is expensive, time-consuming, and detrimental to the work environment. On the other hand, hiring the right employee pays off in terms of employee satisfaction, a supportive work atmosphere, and a stable employment relationship.
The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed obstacles around the globe that have changed the way we do many things, including recruitment. One of the biggest differences of recruitment today? Virtual recruiting is the new normal that recruiters and job seekers like you have to navigate.
Reliable technology is now available to help companies looking to recruit. With recruitment software, companies and staffing agencies can use features like 1-click candidate sourcing, automated hiring pipelines, complete email sync, third-party integrations and more.
Although the transition may have been difficult initially, talent management professionals have been up to the challenge. Some parts of the recruitment process, like phone screenings, haven’t changed. But other parts of the recruitment process, like face-to-face interviews, now take place online. Other hiring formalities, like contract signing, employee pre-boarding, and employee onboarding, have been digitized. In fact, many HR professionals now prefer using free electronic signature software instead of collecting signatures on paper and would rather onboard employees virtually than in person.
Of course, virtual job interviews do have some benefits. For one, you don’t have to dress up head-to-toe in your most professional clothing—a nice top will do! You also don’t have to stress about beating rush hour traffic or slipping out of your current employer’s office with the right excuse. Instead, you can just hop onto the video call during your lunch break.
However, the virtual interview process isn’t straightforward in all respects. Going through a virtual interview process means facing a different set of challenges. Some of those challenges include dealing with potential technical problems (we all know technology isn’t always the smoothest) and not getting the clearest picture of a company’s culture (it’s harder for those details to get across virtually versus in person). Other difficulties in acing an interview virtually are that it’s harder to pick up on non-verbal cues and build rapport with everyone.
To grab that position you’ve had your eye on, you need to make sure your best traits shine through from behind the screen.
Companies are consistently using automation in their recruitment processes. Applicant Tracking Systems use keywords and algorithms to scan resumes and narrow down applicants. However, beyond that stage, the hiring process remains a distinctly human one.
That’s why while your resume can get you in the door with a recruiter, you still have to pass an important test once you virtually meet that recruiter. So, it’s crucial that you prepare well for the interview and show a strong interest in the role during the conversation with the hiring team.
First things first—first impressions are important. According to a study by the resume building website Zety, 83% of hiring managers consider their gut feeling about a candidate a serious element of their hiring decisions.
Here’s how Jacques Buffet, a career specialist at Zety, explained it to Fast Company: “Traits don't seem to be identical as skills” and “Skills are the items that are listed on your resume. You recognize a programming language as an example of a tough skill, while soft skills include leadership, teamwork, and communication. it is the first impression you create by your demeanour and the way you hold yourself from the instant you step within the door.”
As far as what contributes to someone's first impression of another person, according to Healthline, one study found that nonverbal communication and body language are the main factors. In contrast, a person’s appearance (like their hairstyle and clothing) has a smaller impact. Another shocking fact Healthline reports? People start to form impressions of you within one-tenth of a second of seeing your face!
So, how can you make a great first impression from behind the screen? Some tips career coach Ashley Stahl has are to avoid looking at your face while you’re on the video call (so you can be fully present) and to show positive body language (specifically, exhibit good posture, don’t cross your arms, make eye contact, genuinely smile, and be mindful of your tone of voice).
According to the same Zety study we mentioned earlier, during your virtual interview, the recruiter will also look for evidence that you have ten behavior traits in particular. These behavior traits have always been important to employers, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made these traits even more valuable because they want resilient employees who can put their best foot forward during challenging times.
Loyal employees contribute the most to the organization’s success.
Consumers are scrutinizing businesses more closely than ever to assess their honesty, and hiring workers with integrity will show that the company takes honesty seriously.
It's a no-brainer—if a worker is unpleasant and dishonest, they will create problems for their team.
People who can navigate challenges and adjust their approach will be more likely to help the company achieve success.
Persistent employees will achieve goals big and small because they overcome obstacles, follow through on tasks, and remain focused.
Personable employees form cohesive teams and avoid unnecessary clashes with coworkers.
Patient employees will work harmoniously with coworkers and clients because they can respectfully and effectively communicate in difficult situations.
Picking up on others’ emotions and motives is the key to communicating appropriately and understanding where others are coming from.
People are different, and employees who are tolerant of those differences can create a work environment where their colleagues feel safe and heard.
Open-minded employees will be the most innovative because they’re willing to explore new ideas and new working styles.
Remember that every touchpoint you have with an employer during the virtual interview process is an opportunity for you to showcase these ten behavior traits. Sending one rude email is all it takes to ruin your chances of getting the job.
Recruiters will also look for evidence of these traits as you’re making your first impression on screen, just like they would if you were interviewing in person. Of course, some traits (like loyalty and sincerity) can’t really be measured objectively. But the way you approach their questions and the anecdotes you use in your answers will help recruiters see whether or not you have these ten behavior traits.
For example, if they ask you, “Can you tell us about a time you worked with your coworkers to overcome a challenge?” and you answer, “We were dealing with a looming deadline, and my coworkers were struggling, so I told them to not worry about it because they’d mess things up and I would just deal with everything myself,” the employer won’t be impressed, because they’ll see that you didn’t exhibit patience, kindness, or emotional intelligence in that situation.
Employers will also turn to other methods to see if you have these ten behavior traits. These aren’t new methods by any means, but it’s good to be aware of them as you embark on the virtual interview process.
According to Zety’s Buffett, many employers find candidates’ Facebook, TikTok, and other social media profiles to see how they behave online. A post or comment they deem concerning might end up costing you the job. That’s why we recommend cleaning up your online presence before you even submit your resume to an open job.
Another method? The Zety study found to classify desired personality characteristics in candidates, about 52% of respondents use personality assessments or psychological profiling techniques to work out if candidates’ actual personality traits match up to their gut feelings. To shine on these assessments, some tips from the employment website Indeed include answering honestly (don’t present yourself to be someone you’re not) and avoiding giving too many of the same answers (like hitting “Strongly Agree” for every statement).
So, now you know that in 2021, employers want candidates to have certain behavioral traits and will use a combination of their first impressions, research into candidates’ online profiles, and behavioral assessments to assess them.
No matter what the seniority level of the role you’re applying to is, throughout every stage of the virtual recruitment process, you have to show that you’ll be:
Good at the job
A team player
To best prepare yourself for these different elements of the recruitment process, start by researching the company before you head to the interview. This research will help you understand the company’s unique interview process, culture, and product or service.
From there, you can reflect on how your traits align with what the company wants. Here’s what Zety’s Buffett recommends: “Speak to current friends and colleagues to find out what impression people have of you” and “Look at the 10 key traits and determine how you can improve on those to show the best, most authentic version of yourself to employers—and land your dream job.”