A Guide to In-Person Interviews During Covid-19

*This article is merely food for thought. Please follow your state and local guidelines.

We are all well aware of how greatly COVID-19 has impacted our day-to-day lives. While we strive for a return to normal, we know that our in-person interview process will require a “new normal.”

Companies are still hiring, and many roles cannot be filled without an on-site interview. Begin by determining the roles where an offer can be comfortably made through video interviews and which roles truly require an on-site interview.

The following are a few suggestions for employers on how to conduct those interviews as safely as possible and keep your candidate and staff feeling comfortable with the process.   

Gone are the interviews full of handshakes, office tours, lunches, and dinners.

Unfortunately, that also takes away the opportunity to get to know candidates on a more relaxed level and vice versa. Reaching out to your candidates ahead of time and letting them know that the interview process has changed due to the current conditions may help to set expectations and ensure that your candidate understands you’re operating out of the utmost concern for safety.

Even though the “warm fuzzy” will not be there, communicating expectations ahead of time will help prevent the candidate from feeling an emotional distance with you and your company.

Steps to take prior to travel and the day of the interview

Before your candidate travels, know that they may have a level of anxiety regarding the unknown situation they are walking into, especially if they’re traveling from out of state. Try to calm that feeling by letting them know specifically how your company will be handling safety while they are interviewing.

  1. Closely monitor for symptoms

Candidates should be asked to monitor their health and surroundings and self-assess prior to travel as well as the day of the interview for symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, etc.). If they are experiencing symptoms, have been directed to self-quarantine, or have been in close contact with anyone in the past 14 days that tested positive for COVID-19, they should notify the interview team and the interview should be rescheduled.

  1. Provide a detailed agenda

Let your candidate know ahead of time who they will be meeting with (include titles) and for how long. Give them details around how breaks will be taken and what facilities will be available to them. Also be sure to provide information on the interview space and your distancing protocols.

  1. Prepare resumes and other items

Make sure to email your interview team a copy of the candidates’ resume that they can print out on their own, in order to help avoid spreading germs. In addition, notify the candidate to bring their own resume, mask, water, and snack if appropriate.

Walk them through the process so they know what to expect

Here are some examples of how you can handle safety during the interview:

  • When your candidate arrives at the facility, let them know that you will greet them without using handshakes.
  • Ask the candidate to wash their hands prior to the meeting.
  • Ensure that everyone the candidate interacts with is wearing a mask and be ready to provide the candidate with a mask if they do not have one.
  • If you need to use an elevator or stairwell, let them know this ahead of time and instruct them that they will be using the elevator alone, or plan on single spacing when using the stairs.
  • For groups, try to meet in a larger or more open conference area.
  • Prior to the interviews, set up tables in a circle, horseshoe, or other format to ensure that people are spaced appropriately apart, yet are still able to see and hear each other clearly.
  • Try to limit the number of people in the group interview to only those that are essential. Consider breaking into two or more interview groups if needed.
  • Have doors propped open when possible.
  • Make disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer readily available to everyone before and after the interviews.
  • Ensure that surfaces throughout the facility are being cleaned and disinfected at regular intervals. Schedule breaks after each interview to sanitize all surfaces in the interview room, including tables, doorknobs, light switches, etc.
  • Ask everyone to wear masks until they are seated at a comfortable distance from others in the interview room.
  • During plant or retail store visits, keep all talking to a minimum and reserve questions until afterward.
  • Provide a virtual tour of the facility wherever possible. Include detailed photos and consider incorporating a virtual guide to give it more of a personal touch.

Don’t forget to follow up with the candidate

Request that the candidate keep you informed if anything changes in their health up to 14 days after your interview.

In addition, consider having each of the interview team members send a personal email to the candidate, especially if it’s someone you decide you want to hire. This will provide a more personal touch and an opportunity to build those individual relationships. If you really want to impress your candidate, consider sending a note or even some company gear to their home.

Final thoughts

We wish you much luck as you navigate these challenging times. Planning ahead and considering all the details of the interview day will provide a level of comfort for the candidate, help your interview team, and ensure a successful interview process while helping keep everyone safe.

Happy hiring!

For more ideas on hiring strategies during these uncertain times, be sure to read Adjusting Your Hiring Process Amidst COVID-19 and Improving Your Hiring Process: How to Keep Candidates from Walking Away.

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best talent on the market.

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