COVID-19 SPECIAL

Virtual job interviews, training set to be new norm amid coronavirus pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant safe distancing measures have cut off face-to-face interactions traditionally.
The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant safe distancing measures have cut off face-to-face interactions traditionally.PHOTO: ST FILE

In the middle of next month, Mrs L. Lim, 28, will start her first day as a communications executive with a media company here, but will be working from home.

"It is definitely an interesting way to start at a new workplace," she said, adding that the on-boarding process will be done virtually after the firm sends over her work laptop.

Recruiters said such experiences might become the new normal, as the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant safe distancing measures have cut off face-to-face interactions traditionally associated with the hiring and recruitment process.

Companies will also have to adapt and utilise technology to conduct interviews and train new employees, said recruiters, something previously done for candidates based overseas.

Traditional processes that rely heavily on in-person interactions have been forced to change, said Mr Nilay Khandelwal, managing director of Michael Page Singapore.

"While some have come to like it, others are understandably still hesitant," he said, noting that some multinational firms have been slow to get on board with these changes.

While Mr Khandelwal did not provide figures, he said the number of clients that have adopted such virtual hiring methods has increased since January. He said being unable to meet the candidates in real life is often viewed as a risk by companies, adding that in the gloomy economic outlook, firms would not want to hire the wrong candidate.

To limit this risk, recruiters say more thorough checks are done on candidates' backgrounds and qualifications, for example by utilising online portals that assure the authenticity of certificates.

Mr Alvin Ang, talent acquisition director of Quantum Leap Career Consultancy, said some companies have started to see the positives as nationwide safe distancing measures are forcing firms to adapt. He has been trying to advocate for such processes in the past few years.

 
 
 

"They realise it streamlines the human resource processes and it can cut them down by up to 70 per cent," he said.

To help companies through these changes, recruitment firm Randstad shares best practices on virtual interviews and remote workforce management with its clients.

"Some companies may face teething issues such as finding compatible video conferencing software or getting used to the new schedule. But these challenges would be easily resolved after a few tries," said Ms Jaya Dass, Randstad's managing director for Singapore and Malaysia.

Mr Khandelwal said the announcement of the extended circuit breaker last week was a "reality check" for companies.

"This is the new way of hiring, and it is here for a finite amount of time, we just don't know how long," he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2020, with the headline 'Virtual job interviews, training set to be new norm amid pandemic'. Subscribe