The corona pandemic has left us all a bit shattered and uncertain. For many of us this has been a real, first time crisis, a situation where we were forced to withhold many of our rights and freedoms. We should always keep this in mind when dealing with people – regardless if they are family members, friends, colleagues or candidates, everyone reacts differently in and to times like these. As a software engineering company, it was pretty easy for us to switch to remote work. Nevertheless, we are working with people so of course also we were faced with a couple of challenges and new situations which we had to adapt to. Luckily, we didn’t have to cut off any employees but rather on the contrary since April we have again started to actively recruit for diverse positions. But that’s where some of our challenges started and haven’t stopped. I would like to share some of our learnings and insights from these past weeks and I’m happy to hear your feedback or comments below.


1. Show compassion and how you as a company are coping due to corona.

In my honest opinion, as a Recruiter or HR Manager you should per definition be a people person. Regardless which situation (recruiting, onboarding or developing colleagues) you should always be open, listen and be interested in what the person is telling you. In a critical situation such as this one, I think a bit more compassion than usual wouldn’t hurt anybody. Ask the candidates how they have been doing, if they are safe and sound. I am recruiting a lot of international candidates and let’s be honest the situation in many countries is by far not as safe as it is in my hometown Cologne (Germany). But also for candidates located in Germany the current situation isn’t easy. They might be looking for a job because they have been laid off recently due to the economic situation of many companies during Covid-19. On the other hand many companies have a hiring freeze so they are additionally competing with many more candidates than usual. Really not easy times to be looking for a job, show understanding of that and tell them how you and your company have been coping with the situation. I always mention what we have been going through as a company and what the current status is in Cologne. For some positions I also already explain how we are adapting our selection process. If possible I even mention how our onboarding process will or could look like. 


2. Adapt your application process.

For all of our positions (tech specific, back office or student jobs) we have always started the application process with short telephone interviews, to get to know the candidates. If you haven’t done this in the past I can only highly recommend it, to get a better understanding of the candidate – we all know that we can get a first impression of a person and how motivated they are for a position by talking to them. For the interview, in our case the technical interview, we have usually resorted to video conferencing tools. Of course this always makes sense by international candidates, but take a second to think about it for regional candidates as well. The last part in our process is for the candidates to meet our CEOs in person (yes face-to-face). For regional candidates I openly ask them if that would be ok for them or if they would rather wait a bit. And either answer is perfectly fine, there is no rush and safety is for all of us the most important. Now for the international candidates, which are looking to relocate to Cologne, the personal fit is also really important to us. And now comes the difficult part, for which we haven’t found a solution yet. Many countries from the international candidates have travel bans and restrictions (or Germany has travel bans to their countries). This means we won’t be meeting face-to-face any time soon. Luckily for us, many have been understanding that we are currently waiting for the regulations and news on travelling. And here comes karma. If you show compassion to them, the candidates show it to you. We mentioned early on (directly in the phone interview), that this is an important step for us as we have most of our colleagues working in our Cologne Office and the team spirit as well as personal fit is crucial for us. All of our candidates are understanding the situation and have no problem with waiting a bit more. 


3. Screen the flood of candidates and be honest with yourself.

In Germany the unemployment rate has risen to 6.1%, as an example that means that in May there were 169.000 more people unemployed than in April. We can see this movement in the flood of applications that we are receiving for specific positions like student jobs as well as back office positions. This of course also means that you have candidates applying for positions that tick all your boxes and more. Even if you have over-qualified candidates (is there such a thing one might ask?) then you can of course consider them. But on the other hand you should also be realistic and transparent. Will the candidate be happy with the tasks? Will he/she stay if the tasks are not demanding enough? Will it have been worth it? My suggestion would be to realistically screen the candidates that you are getting, be honest with yourself and as usual look at it from a long-term perspective. 


4. You shouldn’t get back on the saddle too late or corporate hiring freezes will stop.

So you might not be in the position to hire just yet and that is understandable. As mentioned many companies are currently cutting back on jobs, laying people off and especially corporates are currently calling out hiring freezes. In turn this means that many great candidates are on the market and eager to find a new job. But keep in mind that many companies are slowly getting back to business as usual. The hiring freeze will eventually stop and then the corporates will try to swoon the candidates with perks that you might not be able to offer. So act now and start sourcing before the competitors do it. 


5. Watch out for fierce Headhunters – maybe more than the usual?

You might not be aware of this, but there are a lot of Recruitment companies out there. I mean A LOT. Of course I completely understand their business model and the incentivisation schemes behind it and maybe it’s just me, but they seem to be more fierce than ever. On the one hand many of them are probably facing Kurzarbeit and reduction in their working hours while still trying to meet their sales goals, on the other hand not many companies are currently hiring. So I get it, I really do and I always still try to answer all the questions and remarks, but dear headhunters if you are reading this calm down a bit, please 🙂  

I hope I could give you some insights and if you are

  • a candidate and looking for a job, then I’m looking forward to your application but don’t undersell yourself (open positions at,
  • a fellow HR colleague and want to catch up on topics and experiences, super happy to have a chat,
  • a headhunter looking to match your candidates, sure you can reach out but be aware that you are not the only one (see our open positions above).



Elisa is the People and Culture Manager at MobiLab. She is currently searching for new colleagues who are a great fit to our team.