Many companies in Japan have clamped down on hiring or cut headcount because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But plenty of foreign firms still need bilingual talent and we’ve seen a welcome shift toward an accelerated hiring process that is less stressful for job seekers.
Candidates tell us that the shift to online interviews, using platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, has been a game changer in terms of speed. In some cases, we’ve seen candidates move from a first interview to an offer in just two weeks. That compares to 4-6 weeks on average before COVID-19, when interviews were almost exclusively in person.
One trend we’ve noticed is that after an initial online interview, candidates and the hiring companies sometimes keep the communication going over LinkedIn or even WhatsApp. We didn’t see that before.
“Everything was online and the process was quicker than usual,” one candidate we recently placed told us. “I used WhatsApp to follow up directly with the line manager. That was different from a formal email and felt like a closer connection.”
While his interviews were relatively close together, the stress was mitigated by not having to travel to an office, take the train, or worry about finding the right place. Being in front of a PC meant his notes were nearby.
“The process is moving much quicker and the speed to hire is much shorter now,” one hiring manager told us, noting that all interviews were being conducted on Skype or Zoom.
Nonetheless, hiring managers say there are new concerns. Remote interviews make it harder to assess candidate interest, or judge whether they fit the culture, managers say.
But the additional flexibility is also a boon for managers, who say they no longer have to stick around for after-work interviews.
“Candidates are way more flexible,” one hiring manager told us. “The 7 pm interview is no longer necessary.”