Founded in 2013, Baltimore Corps connects talented people with organizations focused on racial justice or public benefit within Baltimore City. Baltimore Corps is much more than a job placement service; the organization is a leader in talent recruitment and professional development, matching untapped talent with social sector employers to create a healthier, more equitable future for all city residents.
Recently, Baltimore Corps partnered with the City of Baltimore, and other partners, to establish Baltimore Health Corps: a first-of-its-kind model that aims to create hundreds of high-quality jobs in a time of record unemployment in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus and address the needs of vulnerable residents. Baltimore Corps is spearheading recruitment for this initiative, which is being led by four other primary partners:
This time-sensitive recruitment project aims to equitably recruit 300-400 trusted community members around Baltimore, within just a few months. “Given the public health crisis, we need to hire people as quickly as possible to get ahead of the exponential curve of the virus,” says Program Manager, Daniel Palmer.
Baltimore Health Corps is hiring contact tracers, care coordinators, and other operational support staff to ensure people have the information they need about COVID-19 testing, quarantining, and care.
To achieve this ambitious goal, while simultaneously reducing the risk of transmission, Baltimore Health Corps needed a scalable solution that would keep everyone safe. They wanted a system that would be accessible for applicants, and easy for multiple raters to adopt as they managed the high volume of candidates. They also needed a way to mitigate hiring bias and ensure equal opportunity employment.
The team at Baltimore Health Corps conducted research to find the best fitting remote hiring solution. “There are some factors that make it either more inclusive or much harder for folks to use,” explains Palmer. They evaluated at least a half a dozen options, and VidCruiter ended up being the best fit.
Baltimore Corps now relies on pre-recorded video interviews to shortlist applicants. They have a team of six or seven raters who review the video responses, then they send a group of recommended candidates to the health department. Shareable links to the candidates’ VidCruiter profiles (including evaluation notes and scores) make it easy to collaborate and share feedback. At that point, some people are offered jobs. Other times, finalists are invited for a live video interview before an employment offer is made.
While facing a high volume of applicants, Baltimore Corps is committed to hiring a diverse group of best-suited candidates. “Many of the jobs we’re hiring for are customer-facing roles. They’re dealing with people during a crisis, sometimes delivering challenging news,” says Palmer.
As a practical way to learn how applicants might deal with these situations, they use scenario-based video questions. “One of our questions is: imagine you call someone and they’re very upset. They say they know who could’ve infected them. How would you respond? The candidates roleplay—and you can’t get that insight from a resume.”
Thanks to VidCruiter, the team at Baltimore Corps can also easily track applications. “It’s helpful to see if candidates have opened emails, so we know they’re not going to spam. We can send reminders when needed,” says Palmer.
Since video interviewing can be conducted at any time, it’s a flexible solution that accommodates applicants with child care responsibilities, or other commitments.
“It’s really encouraging that candidates are able to see the questions before they respond and re-record their answers if necessary. We want people to succeed.”
Structured digital interviews have helped Baltimore Corps standardize the interviewing experience. The same questions are asked to all applicants and the same rubric is provided for each reviewer, which indicates the specific criteria required for each score.
“Both from an equity and a compliance perspective, it’s important to us that every candidate goes through the same process, and that they’re evaluated apples-to-apples. It’s a requirement to give everyone the same consideration,” says Palmer.
VidCruiter has both simplified and accelerated Baltimore Health Corps’ recruitment efforts, helping them streamline the review of a large number of job applications. “In two and a half months, we’ve received more than 5,700 applications. We’ve seen a lot of people stepping up who care about their community’s health,” says Palmer.
Applicants and recruiters alike are having positive experiences using VidCruiter. “Our biggest question mark around whether or not we wanted to do pre-recorded video interviews was whether it would be intimidating—whether it would throw people off because it’s a different medium than they’re used to,” says Palmer. “But folks are really enthusiastic about it! We have a couple raters who say ‘can I get some more applicants; this is so great.’”
VidCruiter also helps Baltimore Health Corps with time management. “It saves us literally hundreds of hours. Instead of asking staff to schedule time and ask the same questions again and again, we’re able to have all that baked into the software so we spend our time actually focusing on candidates’ answers.”
In traditional interviews, it’s easy to run out of time to ask questions. Timed video interviews ensure every candidate has equal opportunity to answer each question. The recorded nature of the responses also increases interviewers’ focus. “If we’re reviewing a lot of videos, we can take a break and come back when we’re sharp for the sake of all the applicants. We want them to have our full attention,” says Palmer.
This initiative is making a real difference: helping fight COVID-19, while also helping those affected by record unemployment. “Many of the people we’re hiring live in some of Baltimore’s hardest hit communities. They’ve had hours reduced or were laid off because of the pandemic. We can help vulnerable families that don’t have income gain access to meaningful opportunities to support themselves,” says Palmer.
The positions are temporary (mostly 8-12 month contracts), but one of the goals of the program is to help prepare people for long-term careers in public health. The mayor’s office is providing career navigation help, financial empowerment counseling, free behavioral health services and legal services. “We look forward to getting more Baltimoreans back to work through this important effort,” says Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young.