“That would have been unthinkable back in February," said Thore Behrens, a partner at Frankfurt-based headhunter Banking Consult.
BayernLB, DZ Bank and DekaBank -- with combined assets of about $1 trillion -- are among companies in the industry that have recently awarded job contracts without meeting the successful candidate in person. Most of the people that BayernLB has hired this way applied for junior positions, according to Susanne Kober, the head of human resources. Behrens said his firm helped a lender recruit a new board member using only online interviews.
“This is a surprising development, especially for the banking industry, given that it’s a people-to-people business with long-established ways of doing things," he said. “We’re not talking about startup companies here."
These new practices extend beyond interviews. At DZ Bank, job candidates who were due to attend in-person assessment centers this spring were instead asked to participate digitally. Candidates had to complete four out of five components at home -- an initial greeting, an online test, a case study and then an interview. The group exercise was canceled altogether, spokesman Uwe Wulf said.
According to Wulf, digital hiring offers advantages for both employers and prospective employees. While lenders can save money, candidates often find out more quickly whether they’ve got the job, he said.
Most German lenders -- including Deutsche Bank AG -- told staff to work from home earlier this year, making it harder to stick to the usual recruitment protocols. As their employees begin to return to their office desks, some companies may continue to forgo face-to-face meetings when filling certain positions.