How to hire an HR executive during a pandemic

by Derek Gracey
Senior Associate Practice Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

Let’s face it: Hiring a human resources leader can be a daunting task for any organization under normal circumstances, let alone during a global pandemic. Along with their teams, HR leaders are often the ones who help organizations hire great talent and help put the right people in the right seats. So whether your head of human resources has recently retired or you’re planning to hire your first chief people officer, the Charles Aris team is here to help.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when hiring your next HR leader in tumultuous times:

Be thoughtful. Having a clear idea of what you’re looking for will help your search go smoothly. Sure, there will be some ambiguity, but you should spend time up front with your team, brainstorming and determining the type of candidate you’re seeking. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page internally will help prevent candidate frustration during the interview process.

Be strategic. Once you have determined what you’re looking for, it’s time to figure out how to find and recruit worthy candidates. Now more than ever, it’s important to be strategic and targeted in your approach. Where and how are you going to find and recruit A-level talent? Candidates whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic may find you by way of an application, but others may be hesitant to look for other opportunities with everything going on these days. Take the time to craft a compelling email or LinkedIn message rather than resorting to a generic template. Let prospective candidates know that you want to talk with them – and be ready to put your sales hat on to recruit them!

Be flexible. It’s imperative to remain flexible during any talent search … but especially right now. Recognize that things may not go exactly as planned. You might get a curveball or three thrown at you during the process. Candidates might need to reschedule their interviews at the eleventh hour because of COVID-19 exposure, or you might need to cancel on them at the last minute for the same reason. Perhaps your videoconference tool just froze with 10 minutes remaining and you need to call the candidate on her mobile phone to wrap up. That’s OK! Handling such challenges with poise will make a good impression on candidates.

Be ready. The candidates you interview likely will have discussions with other organizations, so you might need to move swiftly with your selection and hiring process. While you certainly want to avoid a rash decision with this critical hire, you should do everything in your power to ensure that you and your team are ready to interview candidates efficiently and to make a great hire as a result.

To learn more about Derek’s executive search capabilities within the Charles Aris Human Capital practice, contact him at (336) 378-1818, extension 9152, or email him at