Recruitment | How has the pandemic changed job interviews?

How has the pandemic changed job interviews?

New research from Randstad has revealed that 64% of Brits aren’t willing to shake their interviewer’s hand at their next in-person job interview.

According to a poll of 735 jobseekers – who were asked if it’s appropriate to shake hands at job interviews post-pandemic – just one-third (36%) voted to keep the handshake.

Jenna Alexander, Talent Acquisition Director, Randstad UK&I & EMEA, said that the concept of “compulsory pre-interview handshakes is now being perceived as a non-inclusive and unnecessary process, in the same sense as commuting a long distance to a physical meeting, according to the hundreds of jobseekers we polled”.

She added: “The traditional interview greeting and parting interaction, which many find daunting, has been identified as an old tradition that the majority hope to shake off.”

Waving goodbye to handshakes

Yet, it is not just Randstad’s data that has pointed towards a lack of willingness among staff and candidates to shake hands in the workplace.

In fact, recent research from Premier Inn surveyed 1,000 working professionals in the UK and Germany and looked at the preferred business greetings both before and post-pandemic.

According to the data, ‘fist bumps’ have seen a nine per cent increase in popularity amid the pandemic, with an eight percentage increase in ‘elbow taps’.

Conversely, handshakes have significantly decreased in popularity by 18%, meaning that jobseekers could be looking for alternative ways to greet employers at in-person job interviews.

In addition to this, Randstad’s webinar titled Living with someone else’s mental health revealed that almost a fifth are scared of catching covid-19 in the workplace.

As such, it is important that employers and hirers think about how they can make interviewees feel more comfortable when attending an in-person job interview.

How to make jobseekers comfortable at in-person interviews

Mandy Watson, Managing Director at Ambitions Personnel told HR Grapevine that good communication before the interview is “key to getting it right” so candidates know what they can expect.

She continued: “For example, putting together a document or a list of FAQs beforehand for candidates to review is a good idea.  

"Employers should also set out whether the interview will involve social distancing, be contact free and covid-secure. This will put their mind at ease and remove any awkward situations or misunderstandings regarding the likes of shaking hands.”

In addition to this, the recruitment expert added that employers should also lay out the measures that are in place, whether there is an expectation to where masks, and explain why the meeting is face-to-face rather than virtual.

“Preparation is key these days, the days of just turning up are possibly long gone,” Watson added.

How has the pandemic changed job interviews?

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a shift in many aspects of work, from where and when work is completed, to the methods deployed in the hiring process.

During this time, as Watson has acknowledged, many employers have moved to video call interviews “to protect themselves and potential candidates, and in line with Government advice”.

She added: “We’ve even seen employers requesting a pre-recorded video profile in addition to, or even replacing a CV.

"It’s likely that this is set to stay, particularly for first-stage interviews. It will only perhaps be the final, top contenders being invited in for face-to-face interviews and office tours. Logistically this makes a lot of sense,” Watson added.

It’s clear that the pandemic has sparked a change in the interview process, from the way that employers conduct interviews, to the greetings used when meeting for the first time.

As such, it is crucial that employers and HR consider best practice for interviews to help them create a great candidate experience and attract top talent into the business.

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