When Candidates Don’t Have the Tools to Take Remote Interviews, Here’s How You Can Help

Ron Wilson | August 4, 2020

42 million Americans are not in a position to afford high-speed internet pull-quote

It’s difficult to find driven and dependable people for your workforce when you’re up against talent shortages, tight budgets, or, in our current state, a pandemic which limits access to your normal candidate pool. Yet when your operations and revenue are on the line, you’re the one who needs to innovate and find talent.

Pandemic or not, many companies have moved to a partially remote hiring process, eliminating face-to-face interviews in earlier staging of their hiring process. Managers and HR professionals pivoted to video and remote interviews to maintain their talent pipeline both during the labor shortage earlier this year and then again when their physical locations closed to non-essential employees. But just pivoting to a new tool isn’t a cure all on it’s own. Industries like retail, grocery, and manufacturing, which historically pull from a labor force that often lacks reliable internet access, need to get more creative. So, where do you start?

Let’s take a look at the barriers for candidates facing this challenge and review the strategies that some businesses are exploring to keep finding quality talent.

The Impact of the Digital Divide

Just because the technology is available doesn’t mean it’s accessible to everyone. In fact, research shows that 42 million Americans are not in a position to afford high-speed internet in their households. Even as of 2019, 10% of the U.S. population did not use the internet at all.

Trapped on the other side of the digital divide, people in these positions tend to have a high school education or less and are more dependent on income from retail or manufacturing jobs. When in-person interviews disappear, these hard-working people may be unintentionally left out of the sourcing process. As a result your business may neglect workers who are actively searching, will work hard for you, and are less likely to use your business as a quick stop gap until their preferred opportunities open up.

Overcoming Barriers for Remote Interviews

How do you include these candidates in your hiring process, especially during situations, like now, where in-person interviews may not be an option? The key is to meet your labor force in the middle by providing a level of flexibility during the interview and hiring process, a strategy that’s much easier with the help of different partners.  Here are a few options:

  • Collaborate with Public Services: For many people without reliable high-speed internet in their homes, their local public library is a bridge to cross the digital divide. Branches nationwide have computer terminals for patrons to use and a growing number even allow equipment like web cameras or microphones to circulate for use on library premises.

    Reduced hours from the pandemic have created temporary disruption of regular services, but some local libraries are working to offer limited hours of operation. This can provide candidates with flexibility to complete your remote interviews at their convenience, especially when you use a one-way video platform like our interview on demand. The right video platform can empower your business to connect with your labor pool when it fits their schedule. If you manage to collaborate along with your local library, you may even be able to coordinate dedicated times for potential candidates to use library resources to apply.
  • Partner with the Right Staffing Firm: Staffing organizations that specialize in high-volume retail, grocery and manufacturing placements are an excellent resource. They’re used to dealing with people who might lack internet access or technical savvy, and are often willing to help candidates through the application process.

    Like other organizations, they’ve had to adapt to the pandemic and keep their employees safe. Many are finding ways to schedule on-site visits with candidates, using video interview tools, and sanitizing work stations between interviews.
  • Join a Virtual Hiring Fair: A rising trend for many high-volume hiring industries is to find candidates at virtual hiring fairs. These virtual hiring fairs started with colleges and universities finding creative ways to connect their students and graduates to companies that were on the hunt for new employees. Nowadays, the virtual hiring fair trend has expanded to positions ranging from retail associates to software development, giving hiring managers another way to reach a candidate pool they may otherwise miss.

    It sounds a little strange to recommend you join a virtual hiring fair if you are trying to reach candidates with limited access to technology. However, this hiring strategy is still viable if you partner with local institutions or non-profits that specialize in helping underserved communities remain part of the workforce. Organizations like the Urban League of Louisiana or the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership are driven to enrich the candidate pools that they offer to businesses and offer access to technology and tools necessary to apply for jobs under a variety of circumstances.

There’s Always a Way Forward

As always, businesses that thrive, during good times and bad, find a way to access the right workforce. Those that are consistently able to find and hire exceptional people take the time to connect with them whether they have reliable access to high-speed internet or need a little help along the way. And the most successful companies don’t hesitate to partner with others to overcome barriers or get creative in their hiring plans, taking risks to get their right team members hired.

About The Author

Ron Wilson is the CEO of interviewstream. He has a deep passion for company culture and people, and drives the organization through positivity and collaboration. Outside of the office, Ron takes any opportunity to get outdoors - he loves golfing, waterskiing, and hiking alongside his wife and two kids.

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