Interview with our HR manager about the pandemic period and recruitment challenges

In these months everything has changed. No one is an exception, all of us needed to adapt to the new normal. Lynx Solutions is between those lucky companies that continue recruiting people. We catch up a bit with Ramona, our HR manager, to see what are the biggest challenges during this pandemic period in terms of finding new colleagues.

LNX Blog: Luckily our company still can continue its recruitment activity. We are looking for new talents even if the whole world switched to WFH. How difficult is to establish contact with new potential applicants?

Ramona: This pandemic period has significantly changed the recruitment strategy, especially now when all the interviews are online. As a positive side effect, in the last few months, it helped a lot that people became much flexible and it’s easier to schedule an interview with somebody. Being home, staying home people can discuss more openly comparing how it was before the COVID-19. Now they don’t have to be afraid that somebody from their current job might find out that they are seeking for another job or wait till the afternoon when their working hours end to be able to attend an interview.

On the other hand, nowadays to attract candidates became much harder. It is interesting as so far, the only strategy that we have used was headhunting. Recently we’ve posted our announcement on a very popular recruitment website from Romania and it turned out that unfortunately, these websites do not have a very crystallized mechanism for attracting IT people.

LNX Blog: Changing your job in this uncertain period is challenging. You don’t know what to expect and what expects you. Do you think that people are taking decisions more difficult than before COVID-19?

Ramona: It is undoubtable that people were reserved at the beginning of this pandemic period to change their jobs. Everything seemed unsecured, so changing your job was not the best idea. Slowly I’ve observed that, however, this concern still exists, people started raising their salary expectations. In case the switch would not turn out how they expect still they would have savings to cover the potential gap between two jobs.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

This is a complicated period for all of us, but our company succeeded to hire 12 people from the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis till now. In those situations, when the candidate was not entirely sure of the change, we managed to focus on those expectations and details that would certainly turn into the benefits of the person. Although it might sound strange, in case we bumped into a candidate who was working in a company with challenging perspectives for the upcoming period, we were more than happy to welcome them to our team.

LNX Blog: What are the online communication channels and tools which are helping you to turn the recruitment process into something more personal?

Ramona: Regardless of the channel that I use, I always try to be friendly and create a space where the person can feel good, and not having the impression that she or he is at an interview. Instead of this, it should be a relaxed discussion without any exact scope. It’s important to know that I do not insist on making a change. I prefer to let the person decide if her/his plans are corresponding with our plans.

I contact people in a friendly manner on Linkedin, but I let them come back to me if they want to find out more information. I use some magic words to attract them to my initial message. At some point, I also invite them to apply for the jobs using our recruitment form on the website as we are not supposed to recruit anybody without having their consent for using their data. Then I use the phone to arouse their attention to a possible Skype conversation.

Once a candidate applies for a job, we have our 1st interview where we talk about his experience, his expectations about a career plan, and the working environment what we can offer. If it turns out that we resonate with that person, we schedule the 2nd interview, the technical discussion with our CIO and CTO. In case the candidate is not very convincing during the tech discussion, we recommend to do a test project and then present it to our technical recruiters. If this one is going well too, then the 3rd discussion follows where we discuss the financial part of the hiring.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

LNX Blog: You are always very nicely dressed, looking great, with your hair and make-up done. Are you wearing by any chance your pyjamas under the table?

Ramona: Heh, there were days when the interviews were scheduled at early hours because this was the only timing when candidates could attend. On those days I jumped out of bed, I quickly arrange my hair in a bun, put up a lipstick and sit down in front of my laptop…and yes, under the table I still had my pyjamas.

I think that my image is counting a lot as I’m the ambassador of the company, being the first contact with the candidate. It is very important to look like real professionals. Through this, it increases also the level of respect I show to the people.

When we were at the office and the candidate arrived, I also asked them if we could serve them with a coffee, tea, maybe some hot beverage or water, but now all I can do is to be nice to that person. How you are treated at an interview, will reflect how you will be treated after the hiring. So, we need to do a good impression.

At the beginning of the pandemic period, every time when I had a Skype call or an online meeting, my little boy became extremely curious. He instantly appeared next to me wanting to listen in or taking a peek. There are also these types of situations when you become a mother, a father, a dog owner, a cat owner, or whatever else you have in your home and it is important to you. This is the way how we become humans; you cannot exclude your whole life when working from home.

The best WFM video ever circled on the internet, he did not get up either, wondering if he has his pyjamas on 😛

LNX Blog: What’s the hardest part of this period for you as the HR manager of Lynx Solutions?

Ramona: The fact that I try to find a solution for everything and to adapt to the new situation. What is particularly hard it’s to gather all the documents needed for hiring and to do the complete dossier of the required papers for the employment. It is time consuming to have all the original documents in place, everything gets signed only electronically, especially that we are recruiting and hiring also from other cities/locations. Another extremely hard thing to handle is the on-boarding process of the new employees, to keep them involved and get them to adapt to the new environment. For them this is the new normal, they do not have experience with the colleagues, they did not work together before, and they do not have a clue how is life at the office.

Recruiting only online makes it hard to pay attention to all the aspects of the process. There is no chance to see how a candidate presents himself at the interview or to get any impression about his body language. During a Skype interview, you see only his face, nothing else about his non-verbal communication which can betray you as a candidate.

Competences that we are looking for have changed a lot lately, we focus now on flexibility and adaptability. There are people who have never worked remotely before and now they must adapt to this way of working while remaining productive for the company.

It makes me very happy knowing that we do not face any serious issues with our employees. Everybody managed to get adapt to work from home. In my opinion, it helped a lot the fact that we have a team also in Cluj Napoca and it was not the first time when teams needed to work together from a distance. Another “punct forte” is to work with foreign customers with who we meet only in the virtual space. Even before the COVID-19 the developers were involved in daily stand-up meetings with our customers. Working in Agile methodology excludes the possibility when only the project manager meets with the client. Using the Scrum framework is an assurance that everybody meets with everybody.

We organized online even the summer practice for students which is a very new thing to us as well.

Thank you, Ramona, for the time and the nice words!

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