Winter 2021
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CTDO Magazine

A Shift to Virtual Hiring

Friday, January 15, 2021

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the dramatic increase in remote work, organizations’ hiring practices have moved online.

No one can argue that 2020 was a tumultuous year for jobs. With a record number of employees working from home, organizations had to modify routine procedures and communication methods to meet rapidly evolving demands. One key change that many pursued was to move their recruiting and hiring to a largely remote process.


The 2020 Hiring Benchmark Report from Criteria, an assessment company dedicated to helping organizations make talent decisions, finds there’s been a major shift to use more phone and video interviews during hiring. Its survey of more than 400 hiring professionals across a wide breadth of industries found that eight in 10 hiring professionals are using phone interviews. Michelle Silverstein, a content manager for Criteria, explains in a blog post that phone interviews had often been used as a prescreening tool ahead of in-person interviews, but in 2020, they became a prescreening to video interviews, which some 58 percent of respondents said they’re now using. That’s a 159 percent jump from 2019 when that number was around 22 percent.

“Organizations are adapting to a new era of remote work by adopting video interviewing technology, and while it isn’t a replacement for in-person interaction, it certainly seems to fulfill a need that phone interviews simply cannot achieve,” writes Silverstein. “After COVID-19 finally fades from our lives, it will be particularly interesting to see if video interview usage goes down, or if it maintains this new level.”

HireVue, a global provider of virtual interviewing and assessment technology for recruiting, has also seen an uptick in anytime anywhere candidate engagement. It reports that live, online interviewing increased nearly 80 percent in 2020. AllyO, which HireVue recently acquired, reported that it facilitated almost 45 million artificial intelligence–driven chat engagements between candidates and hiring organizations last year. For instance, over the October 24–25, 2020, weekend, the company facilitated more than 47,000 interviews, almost doubling the previous year’s record

“Even with COVID, companies are still hiring and filling a lot of job roles, especially in certain high-demand industries such as retail, grocery and distribution,” Kevin Parker, chairman and CEO of HireVue, said in a written statement. “And the increase in live online interviewing shows how companies are opting for online interviews for all roles and through all stages in the process.”

Staffing firm Robert Half’s data concurs with those assessments. According to its survey of more than 2,800 senior managers in the US, three-quarters said their companies conducted remote interviews during the pandemic. Before the pandemic began, that number was just 12 percent.


Socially distanced interviews aren’t the only hiring practices seeing a boost. Compared to 2019, Criteria reports that nearly an additional one-third of hiring professionals are currently using an applicant tracking system or human resource information system to hire.

Finally, the surge in remote work and remote hiring practices means companies can broaden their search for qualified candidates. Robert Half research found that three in five organizations have expanded their search geographically to reach more candidates. While 16 percent of respondents said this practice was in place before the pandemic, 44 percent have increased their efforts.

“In many cases, employers have adjusted their recruiting strategies to accommodate new, virtual work realities and are seeing immediate benefits, including faster and more successful hires,” notes Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected]

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