‘Business as usual’ has taken on an entirely new meaning for life sciences companies in the age of COVID-19 as they shift their operations online. Virtual operations encompass almost the entire scope of company functions, from research and development to marketing and sales. Perhaps one of the most challenging elements of this new paradigm is virtual recruitment, hiring, and onboarding of new executives.

Identifying a suitable and appropriate pool of candidates for C-level positions has always been a time- and labor-intensive exercise, but moving the process along completely virtually requires extraordinary focus, patience, strategic calculation, and technological capacities. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Slone Partners has successfully worked with its client partners to place multiple top executives and leadership team members at leading companies through the use of virtual recruitment and hiring. And once the leaders are in place, Slone Partners, in partnership with Fortify Leadership Group, provides transition coaching to help ensure that newly-hired executives are able to successfully acclimate, engage, and push forward.

“We have refined our virtual recruitment and hiring operations in recent months to ensure that our client partners are comfortable and satisfied with the process and that the outcomes are positive,” said Slone Partners CEO Leslie Loveless. “By using the most current video conferencing technologies available, we are able to identify, interview, and place the most qualified candidates in top positions where they and their companies will thrive.”

Virtual interviewing, screening, and data collection and analysis techniques are changing quickly, in response to the special circumstances created by COVID-19 and the need for effective tools that help compensate for the loss of face-to-face meetings. Clients are increasing their reliance on assessment tools that evaluate psychometrics and character traits to provide additional sources of information when evaluating candidates. Slone Partners works closely with client partners to integrate and administer these tools into the recruitment process.

“Virtual recruiting and hiring may have some advantages in terms of convenience and cost, but it cannot completely replicate the experience of face-to-face contact and onsite company visits,” said Loveless. “That said, we are learning a lot during this crisis, and some of the lessons learned through virtual recruitment, interviewing, and hiring will be applied to our functional models once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.”

One of the most valuable lessons learned in recent months may be that a candidate can be recruited and placed with just a single in-person meeting, rather than several, expediating the process and saving time and money. Calendar syncing becomes simplified when travel is not necessary until the final round of interviews is scheduled. And the sooner final interviews are scheduled, the greater the probability that the company will attract a top candidate who might otherwise be lost to the competition.

So when the pandemic is over and ‘business as usual’ resumes, business for life sciences recruiters and their client partners will be slightly different than it was in the past.