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How to Prepare Your Staffing Team for Mass Applications During High Unemployment

How to Prepare Your Staffing Team for Mass Applications During High Unemployment

A perfect storm can brew in the staffing industry at any given moment. And if not addressed appropriately, both clients and candidates will quickly see adverse effects. 

When unemployment in the U.S. rises just as roles shift due to a decreasing number of jobs, company closures, acquisitions, and general downsizing change your clients’ talent requirements. 

These circumstances also send candidates into a panic. 

Rather than being passive and overly-cautious when applying, many candidates go after anything and everything. Further complicating the situation, some job descriptions and role requirements may not have shifted to fit the current market climate. 

And that leads you to the eye of the storm. Countless emails, LinkedIn messages, and the number of applications rolling in for roles are overwhelming. While you attempt to keep communication flowing, the tasks keep piling up. You have drastically more applicants to screen, which means more interviews to schedule, and you also have to find time to collaborate with team members and clients. 

Of course, the core issue is ensuring the candidate experience remains positive while meeting clients’ expectations. These high-priority goals require an action plan. Your staffing team needs processes and tools in place to handle a massive influx of candidates. 

Here’s how you can prepare your staffing team for a surge of candidates during high unemployment:

Create a specialized system to gather accurate information

Your team already understands the importance of remaining up-to-date on client information. Over time, every company evolves. Your staffing pros have prepared to gather key details to update job descriptions and workplace processes. 

However, when external factors cause a massive shift on a national or global scale, every client feels the impact. This makes it challenging to remain organized and in-the-know as clients face unique struggles. When information doesn’t flow freely, there’s more room for gaps between candidates’ expectations and role realities. 

Set a detailed strategy in place to quickly gather information from clients regarding critical updates. Automatic and short daily polls are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of rapidly-changing job information. Simply asking clients to answer two or three yes or no questions a day will alert your team if they need to set up more in-depth conversations. 

Improve candidate screening processes

The candidate situation is drastically different than it was a few months ago — maybe even a few weeks ago. When unemployment suddenly hits, many find themselves in dire economic situations. They need a job immediately. An increase in stressful life situations leads candidates to apply to virtually anything, as long as it will pay the bills. 

Candidates blindly applying to as many roles as possible leads to two significant issues for you: 

  1. Your staffing team spends an immeasurable amount of time filtering those applicants who don’t meet the minimum qualifications for a role. 
  2. The number of applicants is so high, staffing clients could miss out on the best-fitting talent because it’s impossible to assess everyone adequately. 

Both of these issues must be addressed during the initial screening process. Getting a more in-depth, personal assessment early in the screening process means you only spend time on the best-fitting candidates from the start. 

Incorporating structured one-way video interviews into the screening process gives your team a powerful combination of efficiency and effective evaluations. 

The benefits of one-way video interviews

One-way video interviews offer more in-depth candidate insight from the start. With the elimination of phone interviews, your staffing team can review video interviews at their convenience and move on if they immediately recognize a candidate isn’t the right fit. 

Additionally, with the ability to rate, comment, reject, and share with everyone on the team as well as clients, mass numbers of interviews stay organized. This helps move everything along faster without decreasing the quality of the evaluation process. 

The benefits of structured interviews

Asking candidates the same questions as part of a structured interview process provides fair and consistent interviews. For reviewers, hearing a large number of candidates answer the same questions helps them quickly compare who is right for the next steps — and for that matter, who isn’t.   

Structured interviews also help you identify talent that truly belongs in your clients’ roles and as part of their organizations. Ask questions that reveal why candidates want to work for your client’s company. 

For example: 

  • What part of the company’s mission resonates with you most?
  • What makes you feel connected to this specific company’s goals? 
  • What can you offer in terms of skills and experience that elevates the value you bring to this company?

It’s critical to see why candidates are excited about the specific role besides aligning with the company’s overall purpose and mission. Allow candidates to answer the same questions. In turn, you’ll have a clearer picture of who aligns with the role, who has misconceptions, and who simply doesn’t fit. 

Try asking: 

  • Why are you passionate about this role? 
  • What initial goals would you set if offered this role? 
  • Of all the listed job duties, which are you most excited about performing? Why?

Create a candidate scorecard

Collaboration, especially on this scale, is best done when everyone is on the same page. With so many moving parts — between clients updating processes and a sudden influx of applicants — this can feel impossible. 

Ensure job descriptions and role expectations are updated as you go back to the drawing board with each role. Lay out the core candidate alignment factors: 

  • Client needs
  • Role expectations 
  • Company culture
  • Soft skills for success
  • Hard skills for success
  • Past experience
  • Personality traits

Once you’ve agreed on the most important evaluation criterion, create a scorecard for each open position that grades candidates based on role and cultural fit. Use a numbers system to keep assessments fair, simple, and fast, allowing your staffing team to focus on only top candidates. 

Most questions can be evaluated on a rating scale of one to five. Some questions, though, are more difficult to assess using this system. In those instances, a pass/fail rating scale is more effective. 

Recommended reading: Strategize and design your rating scale with the help of this candidate evaluation form by SHRM.


Prepare for an influx of quality candidates

When applicants freely respond and apply to any open role, it is understandably frustrating. Although, if you prepare your team for a mass number of applications, they can approach the challenge from a positive perspective and benefit in the future. 

Your team will be able to assess candidates from a forward-thinking perspective rather than feeling as though they’ve wasted time on talent that does not meet present job requirements. For example, candidates who aren’t specifically qualified for the roles they’re applying to now could be perfect for other positions within a client’s company. 

Refine your team’s system for keeping candidates organized. For example, a video library is a perfect way to keep video interviews of high-potential talent organized and within arms reach. As clients create new requests, your team will be equipped with a talent pool full of quality candidates. 

For instance, when using one-way video interviews on a dedicated platform, your team can collaborate by sharing notes on individual interviews. When a new request is made, your team can quickly assess if candidates are the right fit using interview and collaboration notes.

How to organize your talent pool

It’s impossible to take advantage of an influx of candidates if your talent pool isn’t effectively organized. Categorizing candidates based on a system that makes sense for your team lessens the chaos now and in the future. When a client sends a job description looking for a candidate with excellent communication skills and experiences in the IT industry, you’ll know exactly where to look. 

Look for ways to identify and sort candidates in your talent pool, such as: 

  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills
  • Experiences
  • Cultural fit
  • Personality traits
  • Awards/accolades

Implement easy-to-use tools

Scheduling software

Scheduling is frequently an issue even when there isn’t a massive surge in candidates. Scheduling software allows candidates, clients, and colleagues to view calendars, pick an available space that works best for them, and move on. Train your team on new software that enables quality touchpoints as fast as possible when setting up their calendars. 

Your staffing team’s day is then freed from constantly emailing back-and-forth to set schedules. Additionally, anxious candidates feel a sense of power as they choose a time that works best for them. 

Live video interviews

It’s often assumed the most common issue with a talent surge is too many underqualified candidates. In reality, you’re likely to receive too many qualified candidates, and your team isn’t going to have time to screen and interview every single one. 

Don’t let time determine the quality of your placements. Use advanced tools designed specifically for fast and effective hiring, such as live video interviews. With live video interviews, your staffing team can easily connect with candidates from anywhere in the world. If someone can’t do the interview, it’s easy to reschedule without losing an entire day to no-shows. 

Live video interviews also increase the speed and effectiveness of collaboration. By recording full-length interviews, staffing team members can easily share with their co-workers who can then make notes and rate candidates directly on the software. 

Video messaging

Mass numbers of applicants also mean your team can’t possibly make a personal connection with everyone. Unfortunately, eager and stressed candidates don’t understand why they do not hear back from staffing professionals. 

These feelings and fears cultivate a negative candidate experience. In trying times, it’s more important than ever to make a personal connection. 

Ease the burden for your staffing team while enhancing the candidate experience by using video messaging tools. With a quick and straightforward customized video message, your team can update candidates on where they stand in the hiring process. 

Create a personalized video for anyone who doesn’t make it into the next round and one for those who are moving forward. Include tips for what candidates can do to improve their skills and qualifications if they are not moving on. And share clear timelines for those who are progressing further into the interview process. 

Transform Your Placement Process with Video Interviewing

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.