With recent data published by YouGov indicating that more than half of businesses will be implementing redundancies by the end of the furlough scheme, recruiting businesses are likely to see a significant increase in the number of people applying for the same job. 

While having the option of more candidates can widen the chances of finding the best taken for your business, it can also make the recruitment process that bit harder, which is why preparation and asking the right questions are key.

James Didgiunaitis, director at Expion Search and Selection has shared his thoughts on the type of questions that you should be asking candidates when recruiting both during and post-lockdown.

Pre-screening Questions

With more people out of work, it’s like you’ll get many people applying for jobs not relevant to their skills or expertise. Incorporating pre-screening questions into your recruitment process allows you to filter applications, meaning you only spend time reviewing those who’ve passed the pre-screening. 

If you choose to use a recruitment partner to help you with finding the right candidate, they would do this for you, along with personally vetting out the candidate too before sending over their details, therefore minimising the amount of time you have to spend on screening candidates.

If you don’t have a recruitment partner in place, then you might want to include pre-screening questions such as; 

  • Do you have 2 years or more experience in project management?
  • Do you have a specific qualification?
  • Do you have experience in an FMCG environment?
  • Are you in a 15 mile radius to our HQ?
  • Do you have X years experience in managing a team?

How did you spend your time in lockdown during the pandemic?

As of June 7, 2020, statistics revealed 8.9 million jobs, from 1.1 million different employers were furloughed in the UK as part of the government’s job retention scheme. James commented: “Understandably, during the lockdown, many people may have been faced with the challenge of childcare, homeschooling and caring for those most vulnerable. That being said it is likely that you will be asked questions about what you have been up to during this period. Make sure you are prepared to answer this so you don’t give vague answers. Employers will be looking for candidates who have used this time productively whether this is reading books, exercising, working on professional skills, homeschooling the kids (leadership and mentoring) or listening to podcasts while doing housework”. 

This all links in with the issue of productivity, of which the UK has suffered in this department compared to neighbouring countries for quite some time. In fact, growth in productivity – a measure of economic output per hour of work – has failed to rise in the UK since the industrial revolution. For example, according to ONS, in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec 2019) the manufacturing industry made the largest negative contribution to whole-economy productivity growth. James commented: “Productivity is extremely important when looking for the perfect candidate and can be hard to find, so it is crucial we ask as many questions as possible to figure out whether a candidate holds the productive trait.”

What did you do to support your employer during the Pandemic?

As a business owner, you will have been affected by the lockdown in many different ways; in consequence, having supportive employees at this time would have been essential. James has said: “Personality is key in a candidate, and whether they are proactive, reliable and can take leadership adds value to your company. The pandemic has provided employees with an opportunity to step up and deal with challenges and show how they have supported their colleagues through this tough time. For instance, have they taken on more responsibility due to the furlough of a fellow member of staff or worked remotely. As an employer, we should be asking candidates what they did to help ensure business continuity during the pandemic.”

Tell me about a time during a lockdown you surprised yourself.

This is a perfect time to use behavioural interview techniques such as ‘tell me a time when’ to delve further into the individual’s personality and character. For example, asking the candidate to tell you time during a lockdown that they had surprised themself, you might find that they found it difficult juggling work and homeschooling their children but managed to tackle this challenge, or developed a new skill or hobby to pass the free time they had available. ”This shows proactive behaviour, which is what will be needed post-COVID.”

Due to the pandemic, the talent pool is a lot more saturated, explain to us why we should choose you to fill the position over the competition.

Professional and personal development has never been as critical as it is right now. As a result of COVID19, the world of work is set to change massively and will force businesses to evolve at a faster rate than they could have possibly have imagined. James explained: “In a world that is continuously changing, even more rapidly than pre-COVID-19, it is important to find commitment and accountability of professional development in a candidate. With changes comes innovation; therefore, it’s important to have employees that will want to improve and adapt to continue positioning your company in the right direction. Due to the pandemic, the talent pool is a lot more saturated, so ask the candidate to explain why you should choose them to fill the position over the competition and listen out to what they have to say.”

To summarise, it is important we use the pandemic to our advantage in many ways when interviewing potential candidates to find the perfect fit. However, we need to make sure that we use the right questions to find them. Focusing on the proactiveness of candidates will help find us find employees that can support you in any future tough times.