Covid makeover to MSME, startup hiring: From objective, skill-based e-assessments to virtual interviews

September 16, 2020 12:20 PM

Skill, Labour, Talent for MSMEs: For long, interviews have had a physical component associated with it. However, thanks to the current remote-work state of affairs, companies have started to rely on multiple video conferencing tools.

According to Manish Kalra, successful businesses are built by teams with a solid understanding of customer behavior and have a customer first approach.It was more important than ever to have an error-free hiring process since the wrong hire in these dire circumstances could have a rippling effect.
  • By Sachin Gupta 

Skill, Labour, Talent for MSMEs: When it all began, the Covid-19 pandemic was anything but kind to businesses in general, and even less so for startups and small establishments. Companies were scrambling to quickly adapt to the changing economic climate. They enforced change in a multitude of different ways – remote work became the new world order, budgets were trimmed down across the range of industries, and physical events became a distant reality.

To cope with the situation, some companies were forced to lay off a large number of their employees while some others had to resort to budget and pay cuts in order to stem the tide. However, businesses still needed to continue functioning. In order to do so, they needed the right people to steer the ship and stay on course. It was also more important than ever before to have an error-free hiring process since making the wrong hire in these dire circumstances could have a rippling effect. It was fair to say that it was only going to be business as usual when the hiring did not stop. Here’s how hiring has changed since the start of the pandemic:

New Normal: Objective & Skill-Based Assessments

Companies needed assessment tools, which were optimized to host remote tests, that could help them assess the candidate’s skill and nothing else. These were especially tools that had the ability to mask personally identifiable information. This was not just from a social standpoint, but from a business perspective, as companies needed the best candidates in this volatile time. They couldn’t afford to miss their mark because of biases, unconscious or otherwise, seeping in. So, there is more focus laid on objective and skill-based assessments now more than ever because you needed to be decisive with your hiring. By taking skill-based assessments online you could now weed out all forms of unconscious biases from your hiring process and also ensure that your business thrives.

Virtual Interviews

For long, interviews have had a physical component associated with it. However, thanks to the current remote-work state of affairs, companies have started to rely on multiple video conferencing tools to interact with, manage, and interview new candidates. Virtual pair-programming has also started to take centre-stage when it comes to moving tech interviews remote. Technology has become an enabler to hire and manage a workforce that you can’t physically meet.

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Moving interviews to a virtual stage also has other benefits. You would no longer need to incur costs in bringing candidates from all over the country to your office and you also get to reduce your overall turnaround time, and hence close positions faster. Even after we emerge from the grips of the pandemic, I believe that interviews, especially technical interviews, will still remain to be virtual. It will prove to be a far more reliable gauge of talent than traditional in-person interviews.

Gig Economy on General Upswing, Especially Among SMEs

Since most companies are working from home now and are likely to continue for an indefinite while, they’ve taken out of the equation – the cost of offices, equipment, travel allowances, and all feelings of commitment. In such a situation, it made more sense for companies, especially startups and SMEs to consider temporary modes of employment and seek out gig workers to occupy their full-time roles – in the form of skilled contract-based and freelance workers.

Universities Turn into Virtual Hiring Grounds for Early Talent 

It’s reasonably unfathomable, at least in the near future, to continue hiring at universities the way we used to, thanks to the pandemic. Through a combination of virtual technical assessments (with remote proctoring) and remote interviews, companies have found an ideal workaround to ensure that campus recruiting can go on without having to even set foot on campus. Especially startups and SMEs without deep pockets have begun to adopt this new-age, cost-effective, socially distanced, yet extremely student-friendly way of approaching university recruiting, and the benefits are there to be seen. Companies can also throw in a Hackathon to ensure branding and engagement with candidates prior to a campus drive. Adopting a virtual, remote-only university hiring process can:

  • Reduce the cost of logistics and travel which can be vital for startups that are playing with limited budgets.
  • Cast a wider net and help you reach more universities within a short time.
  • Reduce the overall dependency on hiring managers by eliminating the need for them to travel to campuses.
  • Wrap up what used to take months, in a matter of just days, thanks to all of the logistics constraints being lifted.

Needless to say, if you are a startup or an SME, moving to a virtual university programme has its benefits – pandemic or no pandemic.

Summing-up

Covid-19 has definitely disrupted the way we work, the way we collaborate, and hire. But the storm doesn’t come bearing only bad news. It’s given us all a chance to regroup, rethink priorities and set our houses in order. In hindsight — however grave its effects were for humanity as a whole, the pandemic might just have done us all a favour, at least in terms of streamlining workflows and forcing us to embrace tech that was right in front of us all along. These new shifts in hiring and work are, of course, not for everyone. But it’s opened up options and conversations where — there is just about something for everyone.

Sachin Gupta is the Co-founder and CEO of HackerEarth. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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