Since COVID-19 we have seen a huge amount of change and innovation to the way we work, particularly to the way we engage, interview, hire and onboard new team members.

As a recruitment agency, we are in the unique position where we get to talk to many different organisations every week, hearing many great stories of resilience, adaptation and collaboration in these strange times.

This inspired us to share. 

We spoke with 6 different Talent, HR and People professionals across the digital space about how they’ve adapted during COVID-19, and wanted to share some of their insights with you.

Becky Saxby

“To improve remote onboarding, we’ve been sending new starters a welcome box in the post 1 week before they start. This includes a laptop, an “overheard at Beauhurst” doc, a book to read, and some goodies etc. All with the aim to provide insight into our culture from the off.

Biggest piece of advice for people hiring: Invest more time up front to fully understand what you want in the ideal candidate, more than ever.

We used the initial down time in hiring to reflect on our process. We’re now more structured than ever and we’ve seen huge improvements in our hiring speed, as well as designating different senior team members to each interview stage. Interviewers are now a lot more prepared than before, improving our candidate experience.”

Becky Saxby
Talent Associate
Beauhurst

“To show candidates we care, we’ve dedicated time up front to manage their expectations. We’ve told them that we do everything we can to keep our process to 3 stages, and that it’ll almost always take no longer than 2 weeks.

We now ask candidates for feedback on offer & rejection calls. We can’t assume things will just work.

It’s allowed us to reflect and clean up our processes. We’ve had our best hiring run yet, and I feel this is completely due to the time we took up front to review everything.

Biggest piece of advice: Let candidates interview you, more than ever. If you want the best, you MUST be on point when it comes to your process. People are more risk adverse than ever, so if anything feels off, you’re fighting a losing battle.”

Steve Smith
Head of Talent
Utility Warehouse

Steve Smith
Oscar Machado

“We implemented a digital workflow via Zendesk, which notifies a variety of different line managers/stakeholders of their tasks during the first 2-3 weeks of a new starter’s time with us.

We got the CEO and CRO to do a 1 hour presentation on company vision and goals remotely via Zoom, once a month.

One positive we took away from this is that our time to hire has improved, with hiring managers being able to be more flexible from home.

Biggest piece of advice: Don’t go for perfect right away. Trust your colleagues, prepare to adapt quickly and focus on continuous improvement!”

Oscar Machado
Head of Talent
Photobox

“Given our size, remote social interaction & wellbeing has been a real focus for us.

To help people adapt we wanted to create a sense of community and communication. E.g. we have a weekly Leadership meeting that is cast out to 16k employees!

We feel the changes have improved our culture. We’ve become more trustworthy, removed some red tape, simplified interview processes, and have improved people’s perception of internal product release. Don’t expect perfect right away in times like these. We’re all learning as we go.

Biggest piece of advice: If hiring, hire aggressively – and when you do, be open and empathetic. If you focus too much on what YOU want, you’ll lose good people. Trust that people will respect your honesty.”

Ryan Merrett
HR Director
Booking.com

Ryan Merrett
Ben Roberts and Gemma Matthews

“We’ve added in more time into every interview to manage candidate expectations, ask empathetic questions & break down barriers.

One way COVID-19 has positively impacted us: It’s forced us to think more candidate experience, we know it’s affected everyone differently.

One thing that’s really worked: We added a Calendly link into our rejection emails (which we send out within 24 hours if unsuccessful) giving candidates the option to book in 15 minutes with one of the team to fully understand why they weren’t successful. I often spend most of the time giving them advice and pointers for their search. We want people to have a good experience of Adaptavist regardless of the outcome.

Our advice to anyone else in our position: Put real time into planning why you need to hire. If there is any chance the role could go on hold, don’t hire yet.”

Ben Roberts
Senior Recruiter
Adaptavist

Gemma Matthews
Recruitment Team Lead
Adaptavist

“On a positive note, our clients have used the time to reflect and improve working practices, and because of this, they feel clearer and more confident about the roles they do have in the pipeline.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen is companies managing “Zoom fatigue” for interviewing whilst trying to manage super high levels of applications.

Now that you can’t influence candidates by having informal meetings face to face, my advice would be to think about how you can incorporate less “formal” time in your interviews for those who need some swaying.

We see remote working being an integral part of life, and talent acquisition will have to adapt to this.”

Kristian Bright
People Partner
The People Collective

Kristian Bright

Intelligent People help digital consumer and B2B tech brands identify, engage and hire experienced Product Management, Marketing and eCommerce professionals and leaders, up to executive level.