Have You Ever Used This Quick But Risky Recruiting Trend?

Sight unseen hiring is the latest recruiting trend geared toward snagging talent, quickly.
By: | November 29, 2018 • 3 min read

Would you be willing to hire someone sight unseen? According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some employers are doing just that.

The Journal initially highlighted a few retail companies such as Macy’s and Bath & Body Works where applicants were hired immediately following a phone interview, which is slightly surprising considering the customer-facing role of these types of retail jobs. But the trend isn’t unique to retail workers.

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A major driver behind the uptick in rapid hire is the low unemployment rate, which remains at 3.7 percent. Employers in certain industries, including retail, IT and education, are desperate to fill positions, so a speedy offer is appealing. And, in this competitive job climate, the old adage has never been more true: if you snooze, you lose.

According to the Journal, former recruiters from The Boeing Co. said they often hired qualified candidates following phone interviews for tough-to-fill positions in technology and engineering. A spokeswoman for Boeing told the Journal that the company seeks to hire a diverse workforce by creating “a contemporary candidate experience that uses the most current practices in candidate assessment.”

In Oklahoma, the public schools are dealing with major teacher shortages, which prompted the Tulsa Public School District to find creative solutions for hiring more teachers. One option is conditional job offers after successful phone interviews. One new hire, Jodi Dean, who occasionally worked as a substitute teacher, told the Journal that she received a conditional job offer days after a phone interview and was given emergency state approval to teach in the district. She plans to complete her teacher certification by May.

Other sight unseen hiring is happening at select CVS distribution centers, wherein new hires don’t meet with a human until their first day on the job. The pilot program is designed to snag talent immediately because, according to Jeffrey Lackey, vice president of talent acquisition at CVS Health, “any recruiter worth their salt knows that time kills all deals.”

While this instant hiring trend has upsides it isn’t without fault. Namely, uncertainty about how a new hire will interact with customers and colleagues. There’s also a possibility that the person on the phone isn’t the person who shows up for work (Catfish: The New-Hire Edition—MTV, there’s you next show idea!).

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Our own talent-management columnist, Peter Cappelli, commented on this topic in the Journal. He said that multiple in-person interviews are overrated.

When it comes to these quick-hire situations, however, the key issue is that interviews, unless they are done carefully by people trained to do them, add very little information and open the door to lots of biases, says Cappelli.

“If you already know a lot about a candidate, including from credible references, it’s worth thinking about skipping interviews that are not done professionally,” he says. “Lots of people want input to the hiring process, which might be a different reason for doing interviews, but that is different from thinking it will help pick better candidates. If you don’t know much about candidates, then the value of some kind of interview goes up a lot.”

Danielle Westermann King, staff writer for HRE, received her bachelor’s degree in English from Temple University. She has written and edited articles for various print and online healthcare publications and is now setting her sights on human resources. She can be reached at [email protected]