There’s an amazing number of unemployed Americans who just a few weeks ago were gainfully employed. We are seeing a few hopeful signs of falling COVID-19 cases and fatalities along with some Governors allowing some SMBs to reopen if they practice safe distancing, wearing masks, and gloves. It’s our new normal and will be with us for a while. As companies reopen, rehiring workers will begin. That’s good news!

Are you prepared for new candidates and returning workers? One small business I know had 205 applications for one position. How can you reasonably choose the best candidate among that number of submissions? Relying on ATS, resumes, and interviews alone will, subjectively, add to confirmation biases by omitting soft skill behaviors like motivation, personality, or integrity. Overlooking these behaviors tend to increase the risk of hiring someone who just doesn’t work out. Why? It’s human nature, and unfortunately, you may overlook some amazingly talented and motivated individuals.

Some past employees, either furloughed or terminated, will not return. Others may return with a distinctly different approach to accomplishing tasks not tied to success. What steps can you take now to ensure new candidates and returning workers perform? Here are three suggestions business leaders can use in preparation for the tidal wave of applications coming your way:

  1. Create a screening program for all applicants: uncovering all candidate’s hard and soft skills is an excellent place to start, even for returning employees. Are you familiar with behavioral assessments? They help you narrow and select the best candidate who will most likely succeed in that position. Assessments can identify other positions where an individual can perform better in a different role. Making “best fit” selections for both new hires and returning employees ensures you have the right people in the right seats—a fundamental concept in re-building your organization. Don’t assume returning workers will automatically show up and execute.
  2. Make appropriate changes to your hiring process. Now, before the onslaught, is an excellent time to review what worked and what didn’t. As an example, you could add a 15-minute screening process online for all applicants that reduces time and improves the outcome. You could deploy video interviewing software to eliminate the need for face-to-face interviews that increases efficiency, and minimizes contagion. Not aware of video interviewing? Take advantage of my company’s offer of a 60-day free trial.

This can help you set up a standardized on boarding process for all hires, even those working remotely. Set-up hiring procedures for each new hire and show them what they need to do to be successful in their role. Plus, add role expectations to ensure every returning employee is aware of what success means to the company, what they are accountable for, and the benefit of exceeding or consequences of not meeting goals.

  1. Development for growth: Give current employees, and those who return, a path to success. Ask department managers to lead, teach, and mentor. Assume all of your employees are motivated to do better but confirm with an assessment. Employee reports that include past achievements and future development will aid in designing work habits and behaviors—no need for an outdated annual review. Regular behavioral reinforcement, direction, and honest feedback will build commitment, momentum, and allow performance to follow.

There has never been a better time to refine your hiring process. Adjusting it in these three simple ways will pay dividends to your employees and your company. As mentioned in WSJ (Wall Stree Journal), this crisis, like any crisis, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make significant, lasting changes.

Resist falling into a trap believing, erroneously, that returning workers, and hiring new candidates can operate “just as we did before the pandemic.” Take time to review and make changes to past hiring processes that did not and may not work in the new normal. It takes courage to change, but I have faith you will make the right decisions.