The pandemic accelerated dealerships' use of technology to interact with customers, sell vehicles — and interview employees.
What started by circumstance to avoid in-person meetings at the height of the pandemic last year has evolved into a preference for some dealership hiring managers who want to evaluate job candidates' ability to navigate the increasingly digital demands of the positions they're seeking.
To recruit the best applicants, dealerships need to show that they're as tech-savvy as the candidates they want to interview, Anil Harjani, senior vice president of product and growth for dealership technology recruitment company Hireology, told me. That, he says, has become even more important now that dealerships are competing with companies outside of auto retail for the pool of available workers.
Some dealership managers told me they look for how quickly candidates respond to messages during the hiring process as a proxy for how fast they might respond to a customer on a real-world car deal, to avoid losing that customer to a competing store.
The same concept applies to the dealership as an employer when they have an interested candidate, Harjani said.
"If you wait a couple of days to respond back to them, they're gone. The best ones always are gone, within probably a week, because they've got choice," he said.
"When you've got choice as a candidate, you really have all the power and control to figure out, 'Where should I bring my talent to so I can thrive and get growth and opportunity?' " he added. "And as a candidate, your first impression is really the communication you get back from that potential employer. And if it's taking you five days at the dealership to get back to that candidate, what does that say about the actual attention you're going to get from your manager at work?"