Nonprofit Recruiting Will Never Be the Same

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As vaccination numbers rise and COVID-19 numbers fall, people are starting to dream of a return to “normal.” But for many aspects of our professional lives—including how we recruit new employees—normal may never return. I say good riddance. When I think about the inefficient and slow process of hiring built around multiple rounds of in-person interviews, I realize that the pandemic has done us a favor. As a result, nonprofit recruiting will never be the same.

Samantha McLaren’s recent post on the LinkedIn Talent Blog captured many of the ideas that I standardized as I launched Empower Nonprofit Executive Search. She talked about a new post-pandemic hiring model that will balance virtual and in-person strategies. I agree with her conclusions but think that COVID-19’s impact on recruiting will be more significant and far-reaching than many of us realize. Consider these changes:

Talking on the Phone is Back!

People (even Millennials!) have rediscovered the power of the phone as a replacement for lost in-person conversations. A quick phone call is perfect when a text isn’t enough and Zoom is too much. I’m an old-timer but the phone interview has always been an essential recruiting tool for me, and I think it will be even more important in the future. Without a face to stare at, both interviewer and candidate can better focus on the content of the discussion and discern fit for the opportunity. Plus, phone conversations can encourage candidate diversity by counteracting some of the implicit bias that inevitably creeps into video or in-person interviews.

On-Demand Online Video Interviews

I’m one of the many recruiters who has invested in online video interview tools, and I’m convinced soon they will become standard for all types of hiring. (Contact me if you want to learn more.) Why review a mere resume when you can watch a short video interview—when it’s convenient for you to do so—instead? Candidates, too, will appreciate the opportunity to manage the interview experience and show a side of themselves that a simple document never could.

No-Travel, Easy-Schedule Interviews

In the same way that Zoom has eliminated the need for many business trips, it offers a viable replacement for in-person interviews. My 2020 recruiting projects all incorporated at least one round of Zoom interviews and at least two clients hired new executives without ever meeting the individuals in person. Getting a group of busy board members together for two half-days of interviews can be a considerable challenge. Scheduling a handful of videoconference interviews over a two-day window is much simpler. Plus, videoconference interviewing will deepen candidate pools by making it easy to consider out-of-market candidates without worrying about travel logistics and expenses.

Will in-person interviews go away? No. The revolution at hand in nonprofit recruiting is not about eliminating person-to-person relationship building (an essential part of the hiring process) but rather making the initial steps of candidate review more effective and less time-consuming. As a result, nonprofit boards and HR professionals have reason to be thankful about at least some of the changes brought by COVID-19.

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