October 22, 2021

The post-pandemic war for talent: how your interview scheduling can give you a competitive edge

The COVID crisis has shifted the hiring power. With competition at an all-time high, we discuss how recruiters can get ahead with the right technology.
10 min read
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Amy Gallagher
Content Marketer
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The COVID crisis has shifted the hiring power dynamic further in the candidate's favor. With competition at an all-time high, we discuss how recruiters can get ahead and win the war for talent with the right technology.

The war for talent is nothing new among recruiters and hiring managers. There's been a long ongoing battle to attract and retain the best people, and the COVID pandemic has only exacerbated this.

The unavoidable job cuts and business shut-downs during COVID's peak put the power temporarily in the employer's hands. There was a general acceptance that if you had a job, you were one of the lucky ones. A year later, the power dynamic has once again been turned on its head. UK job vacancies have hit a record high of one million, while US jobseekers have 10 million openings to choose from, leaving employers scrambling to fill the growing skills gap. A recent KPMG report found that global CEOs now regard 'talent risk' — the urgent need to attract and retain employees with the right skills — as the most significant threat to their growth prospects. The hiring landscape is fast-changing, and only the employers that adapt will win the best talent.

The post-covid hiring landscape

The value of having the right people has never been more clear as employers plan their post-pandemic recovery. As businesses have opened back up and job vacancies have soared, the number of employees leaving their current jobs has skyrocketed with it. Lockdown and furlough gave people time to reflect: am I in the right role or industry? Am I valued? Would my talents be best served somewhere else? According to a survey from Workable, 70% of respondents were either actively or passively looking for work, and 54% had started looking just in the last half year. The 'Great Discontent' is spreading throughout the working population.

However, even with people more willing to leave their roles, there is heavy competition from other companies and recruiters vying for the best talent's attention. To get ahead, organizations need to meet the changing expectations of the post-pandemic candidate in terms of wage, benefits, company culture, and internal processes. They expect to be respected as an individual. Crucially, employers also need to build engaged relationships with prospective and current employees.

The technology industry in particular is experiencing a notable skills gap. The rise in remote working has increased the reliance on tech solutions that enable people to do their jobs from home. The mounting pressure on tech employers to hire the right talent fast is acute, in order to enable growth and to help meet this increased demand.

The age of instant gratification

Digital culture has impacted our attention spans. We expect everything to load quickly, deliver immediate answers, and connect us to the things we want. This is true from accessing news to ordering next-day deliveries and has molded the modern job candidate, transferring these expectations to the hiring experience and making the war for talent a race against time.

Recruiters have to beat the competition with their speed-to-hire. They need to progress the hiring process from application, to interview, to job offer at a fast enough pace to keep the candidate's interest piqued. With so many businesses looking to hire and job vacancies at a high, they can easily go elsewhere if you don't keep the candidate engaged. First impressions mean everything, and the hiring process is the first point of contact. Poorly done, and it can negatively affect a company’s brand.

Hiring is part of your brand. I think people see branding in terms of marketing, they see it in terms of culture, but they don’t always align it to how they hire... Getting people to understand that is key.”

David Smith | Leading Speaker on People Engagement & Business Performance

Common problems with recruitment processes

Recruiters are feeling the pressure to find the best people as quickly as possible. Businesses need to fill vacancies fast to boost productivity and recover from the effects of the pandemic. Despite the undeniable pressure, it's important not to let this reduce the standards of the recruitment process. Time and time again, recruiters let the financial targets of the business lead their strategy rather than the people. A survey from CareerBuilder showed 74% of employers say they've hired the wrong person for a position, with 43% saying they made this hire as they had to fill a vacancy quickly. This approach creates company culture and role mismatches, which inevitably leads to a high turnover of staff.

Likewise, a slow response will lose the attention of the candidate. Our candidate expectations report showed that speed ranked in the top three things candidates expect from the recruitment process, with 62% saying they have dropped out due to delays – particularly with interview scheduling – in the past. The recruiter has to navigate between many stakeholders, organizing meetings, interviews, and email responses. Manually handling this can be a logistical minefield and a time-consuming one at that. It slows the process down and increases drop-out rates, leaving the employer less likely to find the right fit.

Although the hiring process needs to be fast-paced to secure the right people, this shouldn't be at the expense of the human touch. Candidates still want to speak to real people and build relationships with their prospective employer rather than be hurried through the motions by a robot. A successful approach to hiring finds the right balance. The recruitment process is an integral part of sourcing and evaluating the right talent, and is where a recruiter can properly gauge how good a fit the candidate is for the role and the company. It's a two way sales process – a chance for a company to put their best foot forward and win talent with their culture.

What tactics are employers using to win talent?

There was naturally a widespread shift to remote work during the pandemic, and now many don't want to return to the office 9 to 5 model. A survey by Envoy found that nearly half of employees say they will likely look for another job if their current employer does not offer a hybrid workplace. Employee wellbeing is also being prioritised through mental health days and support. Being able to adapt to the new way of working in terms of benefits stands an employer in much better stead with job hunters, but these benefits are becoming commonplace and will soon be matched by the competition.

Many businesses have responded to the heightened competition with a higher wage offering. Figures from the Office of National Statistics have shown pay is rising at 8.3% as businesses chase skilled staff with pay raises and bonuses. However, this isn't a sustainable option, particularly for smaller companies with less capital. There needs to be internal change to processes, culture, and employer branding to make the business somewhere people want to work. An efficient hiring process is an ideal platform to communicate this and stand out against competition.

Interview scheduling automation is the answer

The interview scheduling process offers the perfect opportunity for recruiters to get ahead from the start. In our independent research report on candidate expectations, 65% of respondents agreed that a poor interview scheduling process negatively impacts how they perceive an employer. A smooth, swift transition through the stages of the hiring process through automation allows the business to put its best foot forward and boost its brand.

Manually organizing interviews is a drain on everyone's time. The back-and-forth emailing or calls between recruiter and candidate can quickly spiral into an infuriating game, resulting in stressed recruiters and frustrated candidates, waiting for answers. It makes the business appear chaotic and unappealing to the candidate. Automating this process is an easy win over hiring competitors.

Recruiters can link products such as our Scheduler to their existing calendar and hiring workflows for seamless interview scheduling. They can send an email to the candidate that contains a private link, personalized with all the candidates' details and showing them times based on the availability of the interview panel. It provides them with the instant gratification they have grown accustomed to in the digital age by offering them immediate access to different times and dates to choose from. The power is in their hands to select the one they want, and they automatically have an event added to their calendar. The job applicant feels their time is respected; the modern candidate already has plenty of other priorities that they need to work around. Letting them choose a time slot for the interview is a way of acknowledging their busy schedule.

It's essential for automation to enhance rather than detract from relationship building during the recruitment process. Lockdown has made the human-touch element of hiring more important than ever. We're social beings; being forced to isolate has left us craving interaction with others. Time-consuming administrative tasks like interview scheduling don't benefit anyone from being completed manually; often the opposite is true. Automation gives the recruiter more time to focus on what's important: building relationships and matching the right candidate to the right role.

The first step is to evaluate the hiring funnel and optimize the areas where automation would add value. Our report revealed that these areas included video interviewing, candidate screening, interview scheduling, and online tests. Automating these processes frees up time for those parts of the hiring process that are better delivered with human touch.

“Candidates like automation, but they also want a human touch - which seems like a paradox. But I think candidates don’t really care about what’s actually happening in the background, they just want to avoid a stressful ambiguous period of not knowing what’s going on.”

Hung Lee | Curator at Recruiting Brainfood

The key takeaway here is that the post-pandemic recruitment sector is fiercely competitive. Recruiters need to adapt to the expectations of the new candidate driven job market if they want to attract and retain the right people. Although an impressive salary and benefits package could win the battle, it's those employers that speed up their processes and project a great impression of their culture that will win the war.

The right automation can elevate a company's employer brand to help its open position stand out in the current sea of vacancies. The candidate's first impression of the business as a whole will be the job application and interview scheduling phase. Getting this wrong can make the difference between bringing top talent to an interview or losing out. The war for talent is a race against time: automation is a recruiter's best weapon when it comes to efficiency. Using it to improve the hiring experience, tackle the frustrations associated with interview scheduling, and beat the competition at the first hiring hurdle is a smart approach to standing out in a saturated market.