Loan officers and servicers aren’t the only ones struggling with the disruption caused by COVID-19. As the pandemic rages on across the country, recruiters, robbed of the opportunity to meet candidates for valuable in-person interviews, are also being forced to adapt their strategies for finding the mortgage industry’s best and brightest.

“You always have to build trust and build a relationship with the person that you are looking at bringing on board at your company,” says Cherry Creek Mortgage’s national recruiter, Stephanie Treusein. But doing so at a time of social distancing isn’t so easy.

Teleconferencing helps bridge the distance between recruiter and recruit, but, as Truesein explains, a video call is not always the best way to feel a candidate out. Eye contact becomes unnatural, body language is obscured. As common as teleconferencing now is, it’s still a situation where few people are able to present themselves as comfortably as they would during a face-to-face encounter.

To mitigate that awkwardness while still building trust between her and her candidates, Truesein asks a series of high trust questions. Rather than digging into someone’s approach to originating straight away, she gets to know the applicant on a personal level. By learning about their families, their passions, their drives, Truesein displays the company’s appreciation for its employees’ lives outside of work while also learning valuable information about who her candidates are and what they hold dear.

“Those are the kinds of questions that will give you a little more insight into the person themselves,” she says, adding that a high trust approach to questioning can replace some of the human warmth and energy video calls inevitably chip away.

Teaching potential recruits about the company’s culture has also proven to be a fruitful strategy in attracting worthy candidates. But culture, Treusein says, “is hard to define if you don’t feel it.”

As someone accustomed to bringing candidates into Cherry Creek’s corporate office to meet its various department heads and get a sense of what the company is all about, Treusein has had to lean harder into other strategies for telling the story of Cherry Creek’s culture. She provides candidates access to current employees, which can help lessen the feeling of having the company sold to them by a recruiter. The company has also been busy on the social media front, producing webinars and videos from management that promote its employees-first, business-second philosophy.

“Culture is one of the biggest pieces,” Treusein says.

COVID-19 hasn’t completely derailed the recruiting process. By limiting Americans’ ability to leave their homes, it has, in one way at least, made Treusein’s life a little bit easier.

“When I want to make a call to somebody, whether it’s a cold call or a warm call, I’m getting people actually answering the phone and being able to have a conversation with them,” she says. “I’m able to really connect with a lot of people.”