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Free Falling: Hiring and Onboarding Remotely During a Pandemic

by | Nov 5, 2021 | 0 comments

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Erin Gallagher and Jason Heckathorn from the Acquisitions and Collections Department in the library at the University of Florida said that they like others were required to work from home.in March 2020 which was in a hiring freeze. There were 3 open positions, and several other people resigned, so they hired 4 people. They had many meetings with the department leadership using Microsoft Teams and Zoom. They were intentional in creating environments mirroring the conversations they would normally have in the department, such as maintaining hallway conversations and dropping into people’s offices. Zoom was used for interviews. HR was heavily involved as well as department members. Unique challenges faced were the size of the institution, the hiring freeze, and competition to fill positions. They were heavily supported by the IT team to procure computers and other equipment. Candidates were interviewed virtually but were given the opportunities to visit the campus. One challenge in remote meetings was the absence of body language. It is difficult to document the interviews so it was important to collaborate with each other and convey the culture when you cannot meet in person. Lessons on the length and format of interviews were learned. Interview materials were shared and distributed ahead of the interviews. Lessons learned could therefore be collected for future interviews. Breaks in interviews allowed some relief from mask fatigue. Interview questions were sent to candidates ahead of the interviews. Currently there is a hybrid work environment of two days/week remotely and the rest in their offices. Most people are taking advantage of these options. Newly hired people are required to work the first 90 days on campus.

They are keeping up with their documentation and developing standard questions etc.so that they will not have to develop them every time they interview someone. Feedback from candidates has been very positive. The 90 day requirement helps overcome some of the difficulties of hiring someone completely virtually and helps new employees learn the culture.

Don Hawkins
Charleston Conference Blogger

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