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Here’s How To Hire Better People

The coronavirus crisis has created a number of challenges for hiring. Here’s how to hire the best people during this difficult time.


It’s a fact that most business leaders already know, but one that this crisis has highlighted more than ever, and that is: your people are your everything. In volatile and stressful situations like the present, the best talent shines through more than ever, and can literally be the difference between companies that make it and those that don’t. This begs the inevitable question: How do I attract and hire great talent? 

Back in March when the world was a rather different place, I took part in Procurious’  Big Ideas Summit where I advised procurement leaders how to stay ahead of their competition by hiring better people.

Since that time, the situation has, obviously, completely changed and companies now have additional obstacles to overcome to attract the best talent. Here,  I’ll share how my clients are staying ahead of the game right now and in doing so what they have learnt about how to make their recruitment process far more agile, even when we return to ‘normality’.

Here’s how you can follow in their footsteps and hire the best talent right now: 

Hiring via video conferencing

Would you hire someone without meeting them?

At the beginning of this crisis I posed this question to a number of our key clients and the answer in 95% of cases was an emphatic ‘no’. However, as the realisation has grown that this situation is not changing any time soon, I have experienced a shift in mindset. 

Hiring managers are being forced to reconsider their stance and we are seeing a new approach to hiring, the result of which may have positive long term effects and change our attitude to remote recruitment forever.

One of our financial services clients started a proactive recruitment drive across their Global Procurement function at the beginning of the year. Far from slowing down they have continued to recruit, engage and on-board using video conference technology, taking advantage of the fact there is a pool of highly talented furloughed or disengaged talent in the marketplace.

Being a global player it’s a given that their procurement team needs to be able to engage remotely with stakeholders on a daily basis. Their belief is that by embracing the video conferencing interview process, they are able to clearly assess if a candidate will be able to drive stakeholder engagement using exactly those tools and technology. If a candidate can’t perform remotely at an interview, how then can they influence and engage with key stakeholders around the world remotely? 

In addition, their expectation is that we will see an increase in home working practice once we exit lockdown, compared to before COVID19, therefore peer to peer relationships will need to be built through remote interaction.

 Speeding up the recruitment process

If one thing is for sure about great talent, it’s that they always have other options. For this reason, you’re likely to lose talent in long and drawn out recruitment processes as someone else will simply beat you to it. In addition to this, your recruitment process says a lot about your company, and if it takes too long, this will make candidates question how efficient and effective the rest of your business is. 

When it comes to recruitment processes, the current crisis has presented an interesting opportunity. Usually, senior appointments are drawn out as they often require international travel and the coordination of different people all around the world. Given travel is currently not possible, companies have a unique opportunity to simplify. 

One of our manufacturing clients has worked closely with their HR team to redesign their interview process to a single stage panel interview, attended by all stakeholders. Where previously the process may have been drawn out over 3 or 4 stages and weeks and weeks, now the decision for critical hires is made in days as opposed to months. 

Whilst the change to process for this client is being driven by exceptional times, they believe that if they can continue to foster this ethos there is no doubt that they will put themselves ahead of their competition when it comes to engaging the best talent in the future.

Should your interview questions change because the process is remote? 

On the surface, the crisis has not really changed the fundamental scope of most roles, beyond a heightened need to be able to use technology and communicate digitally. But has it changed how we should assess people? In many ways, it has. 

One area remote interviewing has made more complex to assess is the notion of ‘cultural fit.’  It is far more difficult to ascertain natural cultural fit based on chemistry when not meeting someone face to face, therefore we need to be more scientific about what constitutes that ‘fit’. This means going back to basics and assessing key competencies rather than relying on gut feeling

In order to ascertain this, one of our clients, a food retailer,now incorporates a far greater element of questioning around self-awareness and development as part of their remote interviewing process.. For example, ‘What do you like and dislike about procurement’ helps to identify why they are in the profession and the ‘3 key areas for development’ demonstrates their depth of self- awareness.

Hiring better people

Finding talent in non-pandemic times is already a challenge. Add the changes required due to the virus, and things become even more challenging. Yet companies also have so much to learn from this crisis – and those who adapt may learn important lessons that they’ll be able to use to continue to engage top talent well into the future.

Check out Sally Davis’ presentation at Big Ideas Summit London from a few months ago here.