There’s no denying that 2020 has brought on many workplace challenges. For those of us working from home, Zoom has become part of our everyday lives. We take meetings virtually, interview virtually and even have "water cooler" chats virtually. Zoom fatigue is real and the constant gaze into the computer screen void is exhausting.
As a best practice, interviewing — in a traditional sense — has typically been conducted in person. Some companies even have large budgets to fly candidates around the country to meet with hiring teams. But at a time when non-essential travel is avoided, many companies have adopted virtual recruiting programs. Having a virtual recruiting program allows companies to make faster and more cost-effective hiring decisions with less disruption to the business.
The problem? Meeting strangers over Zoom and striking up conversations day in, day out can lead to major interview fatigue. Here are a few tips that can reduce burnout.
1. Interview during your most social hours.
Humans are creatures of habit. According to Psychology Today, routines help us through our day. When we’re in a good routine, our habits are effortless and less stressful.
Pay attention to when you are habitually more social. Are you quiet in the morning? If so, avoid scheduling a long string of morning interviews when you’re expected to be jovial and chatty. Do you find yourself more energized after your mid-afternoon snack? Perhaps that's a better time to take interviews. Give candidates a chance to meet with you when you are your best social self. Spare them the challenge of trying to persuade you that they are a great fit for your company when you’re hungry or distracted.
I like to take meetings from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. after I’ve had my morning coffee, cleared my email inbox, and before my stomach growls so loudly I can’t think. My second-most productive interview block is 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s after the initial tiredness of lunch but before the day is over, so I can tie up loose ends before I head out for the workday.
2. Book quiet time.
This tip is for all you hiring managers out there. Scheduling interviews is not an easy task for your recruiting team. They do their best to juggle interviews between your meetings, desk time, lunches, vacations and more. When I’m recruiting for a hiring manager, I always ask them to update their calendars for the next few weeks with PTO, potential meetings and blocks of quiet time.
We all need undisturbed “think” time and recruiters don’t know which hours are most productive for you. Make your quiet time a priority and block it off so no one will book over it. Operate in a rhythm where if your calendar has an open time, it’s fair game for the recruiter to book it for an interview.
3. Make time for “bio breaks.”
There are days where I mistakenly have my calendar booked with interviews back-to-back, over a two-hour span or more. If I find that I’m in need of a restroom break, I’m not attentive in video calls. I find myself rushing candidates with their answers so I can somehow work in a two minute break in between calls. In cases like these, I find myself being slightly short to the candidate I’m on the call with and two minutes late to the call I need to be on next. Both scenarios make for a poor candidate experience.
When I’m in an interview, especially one that I'm engaged in because I think the candidate is a promising fit, I make sure to keep an eye on the clock and be transparent with the candidate about when I need to get off. For example, if I have a candidate that was asking me an exorbitant amount of questions, I’d say, “I have a hard stop at 10:55 a.m., and I’m really enjoying this conversation. We have 10 minutes left, and I want to make sure you have all of your questions answered. Let’s talk about next steps first and then we can go back to answering questions.”
4. Set volume expectations with managers.
It can be pretty frustrating when the recruiting team works tirelessly to build a solid recruiting pipeline — only for hiring managers to end up struggling with the volume and ultimately dodging the interviews. As recruiters, we have to remind ourselves that our hiring managers have full-time jobs outside of recruiting.
Validate their busy schedules and have an open conversation and align on candidate velocity. If a hiring manager can only dedicate their time to two interviews per week and you know it usually takes eight interviews on average before finding a fit, help them visualize that it will take at least a month to find a candidate at their current velocity. Then, tack on another week for the offer process plus two to three more weeks for candidates to give notice.
So in sum, we wouldn’t be looking at getting a candidate in the door for two months or more. If they’re fine with that, so should the recruiting team. If the hiring manager needs someone sooner, use data to negotiate a pipeline velocity that doesn’t fatigue them or waste your time.
5. Be decisive.
When I think of the recruiting pipeline, I imagine a healthy artery pumping candidates through with little slowdown or unnecessary friction. Give candidates a better experience by making it a priority to move them through the process as quickly as possible.
Candidates are eager to find new career opportunities and it’s unfair to leave them hanging for your own self-interest. If you interview a candidate and are lukewarm about wanting to make an offer, do yourself (and the candidate) a favor and pass. Make sure to build in a formal step in the interview process with a proper forum to submit feedback.
In the recruiting processes I’ve built at various companies, I’ve implemented a formal roundtable step. Within 24 hours of the interview, all the interviewers convene in a room and take turns sharing feedback to reach a decision — hire or pass. Before coming to the roundtable, I ask interviewers to submit scorecards immediately after the interview before groupthink sets in or they forget what they talked about.
6. Reward yourself.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. High-volume interviewing — especially in a virtual setting — is draining. Set goals and create personal success metrics. Once you hit them, do something you enjoy.
After I tackle a time block of back-to-back virtual interviews, I like to take a walk around the block. It gives me time to think about the interviews and take a brain break, so I can go back into my next block of time refreshed. Rewards can be as small as treating yourself to your favorite latte or even a quick 20-minute Netflix binge. Do whatever keeps you engaged and motivated. Make it fun!
As recruiters, aligning to the company mission is what fuels us through high-volume interviews. With every person we speak to, we must remind ourselves they are one step closer to finding a job. I go to work every day enthused knowing that I help people discover their full career potential while growing my company to be the best it can be.
Next time you’re bouncing from one interview to another, ground yourself around the company values you speak about with every candidate. Look around and see who you’ve already hired and what value they brought to the company. All of those things will be the gas in the motor to keep you going.