The Impact of Coronavirus on Recruitment

Admit it, you only clicked on this article because we put Coronavirus in the title. Coronavirus is everywhere you look; the media have whipped us all up into a frenzy and convinced everyone that we need to stockpile 10 years’ worth of hand sanitizer, face masks and dried or tinned foods.

Maybe this is all just an elaborate marketing strategy from Carex and Heinz, if so, touché – judging by the empty shelves in my local supermarket, it’s working!

Whilst we all need to take a few more precautions than normal; including washing our hands regularly and thoroughly (who wasn’t doing this before?!), not touching our faces and isolating those colleagues who’ve just returned from Coronavirus hot-spots (we’re looking at you Rosie Twist and Jon Booth), we’re already noticing that Coronavirus is having an impact on the recruitment process.

Changes to the interview process

A number of clients have reported to us that they will be utilising Skype and video conferencing for interviews moving forward, instead of meeting with candidates at their offices. This can actually help to expedite the recruitment process, as candidates are often able to fit telephone or video conference interviews into their schedules at much shorter notice than a face to face meeting, oftentimes fitting these meetings into their lunch hours or before they start work. Everyone is happier when the process moves more quickly, but is this actually a good thing?

Whilst video conferencing is undoubtedly the next best thing to meeting with candidates in person, it does still leave a small disconnect. Meeting via video conference often doesn’t result in the candidate being as invested in the process, the hiring manager or in the business as a whole. Think about all the interviews you’ve been to: the feeling you had walking through the front doors of the offices for the first time, how welcoming (or not) the staff were, being shown round the building and picking up on the vibe of the team, imagining how you could fit in. You don’t get any of this through a Skype interview.

Whilst there are hugely successful hires who only interviewed via Skype and never visited the offices before their first day, more often than not hiring managers and candidates report a disconnect in terms of expected culture fit. Video conferencing just can’t give you that intangible feeling of whether you can see yourself working there.


Similarly, if candidates are invited in for an interview to a deserted office because everyone is remote working, you miss out on that buzz an office environment naturally has and being able to see how your prospective colleagues interact with each other.

We’ve also had a few reports of people not shaking hands in interviews because of Coronavirus fears or – even worse – bumping elbows instead. They say you can tell a lot about a person from their handshake, I say you can tell a lot more about a person who nudges your elbow in a professional setting than any handshake ever could!

Now look, I’m not saying that we should trivialise Coronavirus and not take it’s potential impact and spread seriously, but we need to exercise some serious common sense here (I am aware this is something that is ironically not that common).

A few tips…

At the moment, it is not widespread and for the vast majority of people, this will be just like any other standard cough, cold or bout of flu. There are a few things you can do to put in place a measured and proportionate Coronavirus recruitment policy in place:

  • Conducting first stage interviews via video conferencing is a good way to keep the number of visitors to your offices down to a minimum, but for final stage I would always recommend a face to face approach – nothing beats it.
  • Speak to your recruiter to ensure neither party has recently travelled to a Coronavirus-affected area and we can arrange to postpone interviews if needs be.
  • If you’re that worried about shaking hands with someone, have some hand sanitizer in the room and both make use of it. Given the current climate, neither party is going to be offended.
  • And to paraphrase an extremely popular and viral (pardon the pun) meme – wash your hands you detty pig!
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