Given the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, employers around the world have had to rethink their day-to-day business operations. With many organizations switching to an entirely remote work environment for the time being, not only does this change the way employees communicate with one another but it also has an impact on candidate screening and communications during the hiring process. 
Once initial candidate screening steps are completed, a critical stage during the hiring process is often in-person interviews. These interviews give your team the opportunity to get to know candidates on a more personal level, and better gauge whether they’ll truly be a fit for your team.

At a time when many organizations are working in a remote capacity – and candidates can’t be brought on site for interviews – this doesn’t mean your hiring process necessarily needs to be put on hold. Rather, without the option of in-person interviews, other candidate screening and verification tools are more important than ever. 
The circumstances surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) are unprecedented, but your team might run into other instances from time to time in which you can’t complete in-person interviews for one reason or another. For example, you might be in contact with a qualified candidate who lives across the country and can’t make it on site for an interview. 
Below we’ve outlined several steps your team can take to effectively screen candidates – even if you can’t complete in-person interviews.

1. Kick off the process with prescreen surveys

All too often, hiring managers manually review each and every applicant that submits a resume. This can lead to wasting time on applicants who are not a fit for your open roles or team as a whole, while leaving the most qualified applicants waiting around for a response – and potentially losing interest. One candidate screening step to streamline initial applicant review is integrated, automated prescreen surveys
By tapping into prescreen surveys, as soon an application is submitted, an automated email is sent to the prospective candidate with a link to the survey. The typical format for these surveys is a series of true/false questions, which only take candidates a few minutes to complete. 
With prescreen surveys, you can also include knock out questions to weed out candidates who ultimately won’t work for your open roles. For example, you can ask if an applicant has a valid driver’s license. If a driver’s license is a requirement of the role and the applicant answers this question as “false,” he or she will be removed from the hiring process and sent an automated rejection email. 
Applicants who score well on prescreen surveys can immediately move forward with next hiring steps. This will save your team time that would have otherwise been spent reviewing applicants who aren’t a fit – and enable you to dedicate this time to other critical business tasks. 

2. Distribute skills tests

A recent study found that 93 percent of Americans know someone who has lied on a resume. An applicant might say he or she has extensive sales experience or is an expert in Microsoft Excel, but skills tests are one candidate screening option that can help you ensure this is truly the case before extending an offer. And these skills tests can be easily distributed to candidates digitally while your team is working remotely. 
One type of skills test can help you gauge a candidate’s hard skills – meaning the technical skills a candidate needs to succeed in your open role. Using this type of skills testing, you might test on basic math comprehension, caregiver requirements, sales expertise or Microsoft Office skills, among other areas depending on the role.
Another common type of skills test measures candidates’ soft skills. These skills tend to be less technical, but gauge keys to success in most jobs. Soft skills tests might include questions related to social etiquette, compassion, business vocabulary or customer service capabilities. 
Hard and soft skills tests are available for specific roles, such as accounting, office administration, certified nursing, auto technicians expertise, and many more. Each assessment can be completed by candidates in about 15 minutes, and tests are automatically scored with the results sent directly to the hiring manager, saving your team time while ensuring candidates are qualified. 

3. Facilitate phone and video interviews

If your team is currently working remotely like many organizations across the country, you can still move forward with your hiring process by offering qualified candidates phone and video interviews – rather than putting your hiring process on hold and potentially missing out on top talent.
Like many employers, chances are you already kick off the interview process with phone screens to save your hiring managers and candidates time during initial hiring steps. But video interviews might be new to you. 
A variety of free tools are available for your team to complete video interviews – including Google Hangouts, Facetime and Skype – and many candidates likely already have access to these tools. If your team doesn’t already invest in a web conferencing platform such as GoToMeeting or Zoom, you can easily make the transition to video interviews with readily-available tools outlined above. 
Phone interviews give your team the opportunity to get to know candidates and better gauge their fit for your open roles before deciding whether or not to move forward with the hiring process. And in the absence of in-person interviews, video interviews enable you to get to know candidates on a deeper level than phone interviews alone –  you can gain a better understanding of candidates’ body language, communication skills, personality and professional appearance that wouldn’t otherwise shine through during a phone interview.
>> Read our full guide on best practices to run phone effective phone interviews.  

4. Run automated reference and background checks 

Candidates might ace your prescreen surveys, interviews and skills tests, but to save your team from a poor hire or potential liability down the road, you should verify each candidate before extending a job offer. This can be made possible through automated reference and background checks.
When it comes to automated reference checks, candidates simply fill in their references’ contact information and surveys are automatically sent out. This saves your team from playing phone tag with potential references – which would ultimately slow down the hiring process. And for background checks candidates submit the required personal information and the rest of the process is taken care of automatically.
No matter the economic conditions, your people are your greatest source of competitive advantage. By following these candidate screening steps to streamline your hiring and ensure candidates are qualified, you can set your team up for success in the long run. For additional tips on how to streamline your hiring – and ensure prospective candidates are qualified – read our resource, “The Seamless Hiring Process Playbook.”