Hiring from a distance poses a unique challenge for talent professionals. We gain so much information from meeting candidates in-person it can be hard to consider hiring through a screen. If interviewing in-person isn't possible, however, what can you do to improve your chances of finding a great new employee remotely? Some might think an interview is an interview, regardless of its format, but in reality, virtual hiring requires a change in your perspective and a shift in your strategies. When done well, remote hiring can be just as effective as in-person interviews and can lead to stronger teams and great new hires.
What needs to change when hiring from a distance?
When you decide to begin a remote search, where should you start? Before you go out to find some candidates to interview, consider the following 6 strategies.
Examine your current strategy: The first thing to do is think about your current hiring process. What was it like when you were in the office? It can be helpful to plot out how many touch points a candidate had with the recruiter, how many interview rounds there were, and how many people were involved in the ultimate decision. Once you know what your typical process looks like, think about ways you can streamline it. For example, do you need four rounds of interviews or can you schedule multiple stakeholders on one longer interview call? If you can make your process simpler, you'll stand a better chance at keeping a remote candidate engaged longer. Simplifying also forces you to prioritize what information you need to gather in a short amount of time which can improve the efficacy of interviews.
Think about job descriptions: It's probably tempting to dust off that same old job posting you've used for years when you need to hire but try to resist the urge. What you were looking for even 6 months ago might be very different from the skill sets you need right now. Odds are, you're going to be hiring people who will work in a remote context at least to some degree over the coming weeks. That means a new hire might need tech skills they otherwise wouldn't have required. And consider what else could change. You might want to look for different personality traits or you may consider sourcing candidates from farther away than usual. On the candidate's end, they're probably looking for details about health and safety from a potential employer that is easily included in a job ad. After all, the world is a different place than it was a few months ago and your job description should reflect that.
Use assessments: Think about the information we gather in a typical interview. From their body language to the way they speak and behave, you can learn a lot about a candidate when you meet in-person. But in a remote context, many of the tools or tricks we rely on to gain a deeper understanding of others are limited. One way to get around this problem is with the use of assessments. Assessments are a great way of collecting unbiased insights into your candidate's personality, cognitive, and behavioural attributes that can then be used to inform which interview questions to ask. This saves busy managers time and keeps the interview focused on the most important topics. Better yet, they also provide the hiring manager with a fair benchmark to compare candidates against, even if it has to happen virtually.
Communicate and follow up: Gone are the days where we can pretend we were too busy to check our phones. With everyone living a heavily digital life, candidates are not going to believe following up with them just slipped your mind. Show you value a candidate's time and interest by communicating with them on a regular cadence. This can mean setting up pre-scheduled emails to remind candidates of upcoming video calls, checking in with quick texts, and letting them know the ultimate decision of a search. Life is stressful and isolating for many people right now so respect your candidates and don't just leave them hanging.
Be compassionate: Probably the most important tip for hiring remotely right now is to remember your compassion. We are living through strange times and not all remote interviews may run smoothly. Just take it in stride and prepare for the unexpected. Make sure you have multiple ways to reach a candidate in case you run into any technical difficulties during the interview. And remember to double-check all technology being used with your candidate beforehand in case they need anything downloaded or have to access any specific kind of equipment. Also consider timing. Candidates might be juggling multiple commitments, like having a child at home, that could cause them to reschedule or run late to meetings. When you can, try to be flexible and adapt to these unforeseen challenges. Times might be uncertain but our empathy for others doesn't have to be.
Remote hiring can be effective
Just because you can't physically meet your candidate doesn't mean you can't make a great hire. Remote hiring should touch on all the same factors as in-person hiring such as culture fit and skill set but you'll also want to consider how they'll fit with virtual team members or how they deal with working from home. You may want to use different interview tools, such as assessments, to help you uncover a deeper understanding of what motivates your candidate and how much potential in a role they may have. The strategies used to find new employees might need a little tweaking but at the end of the day, your goal remains the same. To bring in a strong new addition onto the team. And that can certainly be done from a distance when you know the right approach and embrace the changes remote hiring requires.