FAQs: How will the hiring process change due to COVID-19?

Many businesses have laid off employees and put hiring on pause. But at some point, companies will be looking for new employees to replace the ones they’ve lost. To do that, they’ll need to understand how the hiring process will change due to COVID-19.

We collected some common questions about hiring in the “new normal” and served them up to James Emmett, a disability inclusion expert and lead workplace strategist for Understood. 

What new challenges will companies face in hiring?

The number one challenge companies will face as they look to restart hiring is that their people and financial resources may be dramatically limited. They’ll have to think about efficiencies in the way they hire and the people they bring on. 

When they post positions, they’re going to be flooded by applicants. How will a limited HR staff sort through 400 online applications to find the best two? 

But companies that have embraced disability inclusion have likely built (or can use this opportunity to build) external partnerships with local organizations that can get candidates right to the front door. In other words, they’ll have good job matches delivered to them.

Studies have shown that employees with disabilities are as productive as the average employee — plus more loyal and with less turnover. Disability inclusion allows you to create a workforce that’s going to be efficient for you. And it also introduces you to strategies that you’re going to need to think about in this new world. 

How will COVID-19 safety concerns impact the hiring and interviewing process? 

Good employers are going to keep COVID-19 safety concerns at the forefront of their communication with current and prospective employees.

Before the pandemic, good employers wanted to address the barriers that potential applicants had — like transportation, childcare, and issues related to a disability.

Now the world has changed and a new barrier for many people is their concern about safety related to COVID-19. Good employers are going to be vocal about their safety procedures and actually follow through.

Are job seekers with disabilities more at risk for COVID-19?

This depends on the disability. For example, it’s important to ensure that people who are immunocompromised are not put in high-risk situations. For others, the risk may be no more or no less than for your other employees.

But the key thing is making sure there’s informed choice. As job seekers with disabilities have an opportunity to go into essential businesses where there’s potentially more exposure in the community, it’s important that they have the support necessary to weigh the risk-reward factor.

“How much risk is there to me as an individual?” “If I have a health condition, what’s the reality of the risk?” We should be educating each job seeker based on the individual business situation. 

The pandemic has normalized remote work and remote interviews. Do you see those shifts sticking around?

No one knows for sure, but it’s likely that many companies will continue using a remote process for screening job applicants, including interviews.

Now, for some candidates with disabilities, video screening can be complicated. We have to start thinking about how we can create accommodations for video interviews to help people do their best in that scenario.

I just talked to a company that’s in the middle of building a new corporate headquarters. One of the things they told me was that the concept has recently been adjusted to include spacing things out to be more COVID-supportive — and also thinking about how they build conference rooms better so people can join meetings virtually. 

I think more companies will continue to think that through. Do we really need people on-site all the time? How do we get better at not requiring that? Businesses have to understand that unless it’s essential for people to be in the same physical space, you’ve got to move to virtual work

How else can companies support new and existing employees?

Managers are going to have to become better managers. They’re going to have to use those management skills to build their teams through this crisis and into the future. More frequent check-ins with members of their workforce is going to have to be a part of the new normal for managers.

One of the things I’ve heard companies doing is really trying to build up mentorship programs — where everybody has a work buddy and they regularly check in on each other.

It’s important to make sure that not just work-wise, but emotionally, people are OK. I do think there’s going to have to be that strategic intention.

About the author

About the author

The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.