GEP Per se

Tips for better candidate experience in the pandemic

12th Jan, 2021

By Suzanne Helmold

During the pandemic businesses had to accept, adapt and pivot amid a changing economy and a country experiencing social unrest. 

Recruitment professionals had to adapt as well. We had to create real-time solutions to enable us to continue to attract, virtually interview and create a new kind of positive candidate experience. And we had to proactively build a pipeline at a time when candidate response was lower.   

The leadership at GEP quickly transitioned to a remote workforce to keep us all safe.  And virtual internal and external client meetings immediately became the new normal for communication.  Within a few weeks, we had been given advice on how to stay productive in our remote offices. However, the focus on employee well-being was constant and at the forefront of the messaging. We experienced an empathetic leadership team where every meeting addressed relevant topics. 

And this made me think about how to address a new recruitment landscape with the same empathetic style.

While I saw recruiting posts about virtual interviewing and workplace productivity on many external websites, the steps below will enable a better candidate experience during an already stressful time.


  • Be sure to address the current landscape of the country in messaging or conversations. Also expect to be asked how the company you represent is coping.
  • Be genuine in all conversations — many candidates I conversed with thanked me for being honest that conversations were sometimes proactive with longer term staffing goals in mind.
  • Set expectations. Anxiety is high for candidates who suddenly lost a job so ask every candidate to reach out anytime they need a status update. That kind of open-door communication is truly helpful when candidates feel a lack of control.
  • Turn on the video screen anytime during your interviewing process to make a personal connection with candidates.
  • Prepare candidates that Hiring Managers or interviewers might have to change meeting times and it’s not an indication of interest but more a product of an even busier workday right now.
  • Test any automation you added to your candidate experience and ensure it’s mobile-enabled.
  • Forgive the background noise — a doorbell, a child who yells out, a barking dog, an internet outage.
  • Find out what has changed about the schedule and availability of your interviewers and adapt to it.
  • Expect jobs to go on hold, offers to be delayed and decisions to be risk averse. Adapt and show perseverance.
  • Spend time developing a new skill — keep your mind occupied and focused on high quality recruiting techniques.


Do What You Can, Now

April 14, 2020

Many of us are focused on getting through the right-now and are not mapping our long-term career paths. But many of us, whether we’re working or not, have more time to think about the next steps. When this terrible moment passes, will you be happy with how you used your newfound free time?

Sometimes free time is forced upon us, like during a pandemic. Or during one of the many past recessions, which will always return, like clockwork. I was walking my pug-beagle mutt Harry with my neighbor Maggie and her energetic Boston Terrier puppy, Seamus (many feet away from each other!) when we got to talking about how those who seize this awful moment, career-wise, will come out in a better position.

Maggie came to the USA from Ireland as a nanny 40 years ago and put herself through college. Ten years into a blossoming human resources career, the recession of the early 90’s hit. She was given a choice from her employer: Take a chance and stay with the company, with a bleak business outlook, or voluntarily resign and her employer will pay for her continuing education. Maggie said, “I left immediately and took every college course I could on how to use computers. Not computer coding mind you, just using software and the burgeoning world wide web.”

When Maggie completed her courses, a whole new world opened up. It was 1992, using software and navigating the Internet effectively was not a requirement, it was a differentiator for a thirty-something seasoned HR pro. Her new skills, paired with great relationship-building, led to her senior role today at one of world’s top consulting firms.

I asked Maggie if she has career advice for people during this pandemic. “I grew up in Southern Ireland on a dairy farm. It was a great childhood but brutally hard work, so I took risks to do something else, anything else. Every few years, I got batted down but I remained committed to learning and moving forward. So, I would tell everyone to find out what you can do and control now to further yourself. Then do that.”