Pandemic drives Indian enterprises to adopt virtual hiring technologies

To continue hiring during the lockdown, 85% of Indian enterprises used virtual interviewing processes, according to a study by online talent assessment firm Mercer Mettl.

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The hiring environment has never been more difficult. Covid-19 has normalised remote work for existing employees—and it has forced more companies to use new technologies to connect with prospective employees too.

Indian enterprises were slightly more likely (54%) to move to virtual remote hiring than companies globally (49%), online talent assessment firm Mercer Mettl reported in a study of the impact of the pandemic on hiring plans globally, The State of Talent Acquisition, 2021, and in additional figures on the Indian labor market shared with CIO India.

On the other hand, Indian companies were less likely to freeze hiring (13% in India, 20% globally) or to focus on internal hiring (12% in India, 19% globally) as a way out of their recruitment difficulties.

Technology in the hiring process

Uptake of virtual hiring technologies varied around the world and according to the stage in the hiring process. In India, 81% of respondents said they had significantly or moderately increased their adoption of technologies in their hiring system, with 56% moving to virtual screening, 85% to virtual interviewing and 54% to virtual onboarding.

Overall, Indian companies’ use of screening tools was lower than elsewhere, particularly when it came to cognitive assessments (14% compared to 24% globally). Only coding assessments were used more often in India (26% vs 22% globally). Technical or domain assessments and communications assessments, used by over 40% of companies,  were the most common screening tools, in India as elsewhere.

Trends with benefits

Taking recruitment online allowed enterprises to continue hiring through the lockdown, but the biggest benefit of virtual hiring processes was cost savings, cited by 51% of Indian enterprises, closely followed by a shortened recruitment cycle, cited by  47% of Indian companies. Other benefits listed included identifying future-proofing opportunities (34%), improving company reputation (32%), and facilitating unbiased (data-based) hiring (26%).

Determining whether or not an applicant has the skills and previous experience required for a position, and whether they are a good culture fit, are among the challenges for recruiters.

Unfortunately, even with the shortened recruitment cycles brought about by the use of virtual hiring technologies, the process can still be slow, especially in India, according to Mercer Mettl. Only 28% of the Indian companies it surveyed filled open positions within a month, with 63% taking between one and three months. Globally, 52% of businesses filled their positions within a month, and 22% within one to three months.

Despite this disparity, only 29% of Indian enterprises complained about long hiring cycles—compared to 31% worldwide.

Hiring challenges and how to overcome them

The biggest hiring challenge for Indian companies was finding and attracting top talent to meet their business requirements, cited by 46%, followed by an inability to shortlist and screen the right candidates (38%). Unstructured and time consuming interviews were a challenge for 29%, while 27% were hindered by the lack of a data-driven and technology-enabled hiring process.

With 63% of Indian enterprises planning to increase hiring this year compared to last, slightly more than the global average, CIOs and HR leaders will need to work together to overcome these challenges.

Mercer Mettl found that 58% of Indian companies have adopted or plan to adopt technological tools in the hiring process, while 40% use or will use data-driven insight. Only 27% plan to expand their hiring teams to overcome the recruitment bottleneck, but 48% of Indian businesses said they intend to make the hiring experience better for candidates.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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