“White Glove” Hiring in the Age of COVID

There have been many recessions and even a few depressions during the history of the US economy, but never have we seen an event disrupt the workforce quite like the Covid-19 pandemic. Tens of millions of employees moved their workplaces from traditional offices to their homes virtually overnight — and the professional staffing industry had to pivot with them.

When in-person visits no longer became possible because of the national health emergency, professional recruiters got creative. Over the past 10 months, I’ve heard countless stories about how MRINetwork firm owners adjusted in order to give top talent the white-glove treatment.

In one instance, a manufacturer of high-tech custom automation systems really wanted the top candidate for a senior engineering position to get a feeling for who they were. That process typically would involve walking them through the manufacturing plant to give them a sense of how it feels to work at their plant. When that became impossible, the hiring manager scheduled a video meeting and gave the candidate an in-depth virtual tour of the entire facility all from his cell phone.

In another instance, a client was ready to hire the candidate for a coveted C-suite position. Still, the CEO insisted that he needed to meet the candidate in person before finalizing the deal. With air travel restricted and post-travel quarantines mandated in the candidate’s home state, the recruiting team knew they couldn’t ask the candidate to take the risk and make such a sacrifice for a single meeting — but they could take on that responsibility themselves. They chartered a private jet to instead meet the candidate in their home state — at a safe distance, of course — and took on the onus of post-travel quarantine themselves.

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Many of the interviewing best practices you’ve adopted to create a “white-glove” experience for candidates will need drastic revision for this new remote era. Here’s what I suggest:

Tips to Create a White-Glove Hiring During Covid-19

  1. Begin by having a personalized package delivered to the candidate’s home, well ahead of the interview. Include a link to a virtual tour of the office so that they get a strong first impression of your culture, even from afar; an agenda that overviews the upcoming interview schedule, including links to all video conferences; bios of the individuals they’ll be meeting with; a description of the focus for each meeting; and the same company products or swag you would greet them with in-person.
  2. Plan call meetings with enough breathing room to accommodate lunch and coffee breaks and ensure they’re registered for your video conferencing software in advance to avoid technical issues on the day of the first interview.
  3. Plan time for the candidate in question to meet team members — even if it can’t be over dinner or a drink in person — and structure these meetings to be as casual as possible to give them a transparent view of your corporate culture.
  4. Adjust your typical interview questions to get to know their personal experience throughout Covid, then use this information to help you structure a highly personalized compensation package that addresses their core needs if they’re a successful applicant. Take some of the interview time to understand things like their home office setup and childcare hours to ensure you’re supporting and accommodating them.
  5. Once the interviews are complete, send a post-interview note within 24 hours outlining the next steps so that they’re never left in the dark.

Just like the US economy itself, best practices in hiring didn’t stop. Because what we do has not changed, but how we will do it has.


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