Among the many new virtual realities forced on organisations this year, one of the most significant has been the shift in the recruitment process. COVID-19 may have disrupted business operations, but HR leaders are secretly breathing a sigh of relief. This year, they finally had the opportunity to put to test the advanced technology solutions they had been touting long before the pandemic hit.
“Companies that had proactively invested in technology solutions are truly reaping the benefits,” notes Tanvi Choksi, head – HR, JLL. “We are able to use the solutions we invested in a lot more now than we had earlier. The pandemic has really increased the uptake of these platforms very nicely,” she adds.
Praveen Menon, chief people officer, IndiaFirst Life, mentions a similar success story. “All our IT investments are really standing the test of audit and times. It’s been a seamless transition for us,” states Menon.
“many senior managers believed that all they needed was a handshake to tell what a person is like. that intuition is not working anymore.”
Tech saves the day
Pre-COVID, most HR professionals who already believed in the potential of recruitment technology were struggling with crawling adoption rates in their organisations. “There was a lot of resistance to change the existing processes,” observes Choksi, who has been working with some of these solutions since 2018. “Without the pandemic, normal face-to-face recruiting was working just fine so there wasn’t an urgent need to start adopting technology,” she explains.
2020 has “massively changed” that, believes Choksi, who says, “certain things have accelerated compared to earlier. Reliable technology has become the centrepiece of all hiring, recruiting and onboarding.” Now, to the surprise of most, not only are their colleagues and senior management sold on the technology, but they’re keener than ever to explore further solutions.
Rethinking from scratch
Many offline processes swiftly shifted online when the lockdown first hit. However, at the time, “the intent was just temporary sustainability. People didn’t really rethink their processes,” points out Choksi.
“EARLIER, there was a strange fear that made managers want to see the person physically before making the offer. We’ve grown out of it NOW AND know that a physical meeting doesn’t change the hiring decision.”
Now that everyone around the globe has resigned to the fact that our reality will continue being virtual in the near future, “companies are really rethinking their entire processes from scratch,” says Choksi. “They are reconsidering processes they don’t need, and exploring whether there’s a technology that can make it simpler. The identifying and rethinking of these processes is demanding a fair amount of time and energy from the HR community,” she adds.
Here are the six ways organisations across sectors are using technology to make their recruitment and talent acquisition processes smarter:
1. Virtual can be reliable too
The most significant shift HR leaders are thanking 2020 for, is the change in mindsets towards in-person meetings. “Before COVID, one of the biggest gaps in adopting virtual meetings was the mindset of managers,” notes Satyajit Mohanty, CHRO, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals. “Most managers used to think that an in-person meeting is crucial for proper assessment of the candidate,” explains Mohanty, “Senior management particularly insisted on meeting candidates in person.”
Ritu Moitra, chief human resources officer, Duroflex, agrees, “Prior to COVID, calling candidates, especially if they’re in the same city, for multiple rounds was a trend across the industry.”
“We partnered with a pre-screening vendor to record screen-capture videos, computer-facing and side views of the candidate, and also detect tab switching and alert about any suspicious activity.”
Now that the pandemic doesn’t leave us the option, “it has enabled us to leverage what we could never do before,” says Mohanty. “Virtual meetings have changed the face of hiring,” adds Moitra. “Though we did video interviews in the past, there was a strange fear that made managers want to see the person physically before making the offer,” she says, “That’s not the case anymore. We’ve grown out of it and know that a physical meeting doesn’t change the hiring decision. So that shift has certainly happened.”
2. Saving time efficiently
Virtual interviews and meetings have also allowed for time efficiency with tasks, such as checking availability and scheduling being automated and synced. “I’m seeing better preparedness across, since everyone receives notifications about the meetings, and everyone logs on at the same time,” says Moitra, “The respect for each other’s time has increased and it has nudged us to be time-conscious.”
Interview scheduling may seem like an insignificant aspect, but Choksi points out that “a lot of the time of recruiters goes into calling candidates and recruiting managers to fix a suitable time for the interview. It’s a non-value-add role that is very time consuming.” Technology makes it easy and “completely takes away the need for coordination”.
Since travelling to the interview location is out of the picture, it has also helped improve candidate experience. “In case the profile is not great or the meeting turns out to be short, and if the candidate has travelled a long distance, it has potential to spoil the candidate experience,” explains Moitra, “But now, since that is out, the investment is low and it’s much easier.”
3. Smart screening
Technology has also helped speed up the screening process and is proving particularly handy, now that the available talent pool is massive. IndiaFirst Life has developed pre-scheduled interviews. “We send a link to the candidate with pre-populated questions, which they can respond to at their convenience,” explains Menon. “Their answers are recorded and the first level of our filtration happens on the basis of that recording.”
JLL has been experimenting with talent acquisition powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, since late 2018. “We use Workday as our tool for talent acquisition, which has built-in AI elements for candidate screening,” informs Choksi. Artificial intelligence has also come to the rescue for candidate sourcing. “You can use multiple sources to narrow your list. It’s much faster and the more you screen, the better outcomes you get thanks to machine learning,” she explains.
Artificial intelligence is also empowering JLL to select the right talent. “Candidate assessments have become better with AI,” says Choksi. “Once you feed the key abilities you’re looking for into the algorithms, it can give you many better-shortlisted candidates,” she explains.
4. Trust the data
In the absence of in-person meetings, where the infamous ‘handshake’ theory cannot be applied any longer, data-assessment tools are garnering popularity as well. “Surprisingly, many senior managers have this inflated opinion of their ability to judge people,” points out Mohanty. “They used to say that all they need is a handshake to tell what a person is like.”
“We use Workday as our tool for talent acquisition, which has built-in AI elements for candidate screening. It’s much faster and the more you screen, the better outcomes you get thanks to machine learning”
Now that most managers are still warming up to the virtual medium, they’re leaning towards data-assessment tools to infer the candidate’s personality for them. “Right now, those intuitions are not supporting you so much, and have therefore, become much more receptive towards the quantitative tools, which were already in place,” says Mohanty, “Openness for these assessment tools has gone up significantly. Now they’re asking for it themselves.”
While JLL always encouraged recruiting managers to use assessment tools rather than just relying on the interview, Choksi notes that, “assessment tools and other mechanisms to understand personality as a whole are becoming really important.”
5. Monitoring virtual interviews
The new normal of recruiting has opened up the “opportunities for malpractices,” says Ramesh Kalanje, VP – centre of excellence, Commvault, “so there’s a need for extra caution and continuous monitoring during interviews.” To avoid fishy business during virtual interviews, Commvault partnered with a pre-screening vendor. “They helped us record screen-capture videos, computer-facing and side views of the candidate,” explains Kalanje, “The vendor had existing technology to detect tab switching and alert about any suspicious activity.”
“All our IT investments are really standing the test of audit and times. It’s been a seamless transition for us.”
6. Enhanced candidate experience
JLL is also working on technology solutions that can enhance the candidate-engagement experience further. “Today, candidates want updates very often. They do not want to wait one or two weeks for a response. Therefore, using AI and tools, such as chatbots, we can send them instant updates on where they are in the recruitment process,” explains Choksi. While the Company hasn’t put this technology to practice yet, Choksi says, “we are in the exploratory stage to see if we can use it in our recruitment process and make the candidate journey even better.”