Working from home has long been touted as the future of employment, but only a few could have foreseen how rapidly businesses would have to adapt.
We're living in unfamiliar times. The devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a tragic loss of human life and global economic struggles that are set to take decades for nations to fully recover from.
Countless businesses have already been forced to close, while others have been forced to rapidly adapt to continue to stay afloat. For many companies, it's become necessary to set up a work-from-home (WFH) ecosystem that encourages employees to stay safe and isolated from the pandemic while working remotely.
WFH has long been touted as the future of employment, but few could have foreseen how rapidly businesses would need to shift to this bold new way of operating in 2020. However, for some companies, the transition has been easier, despite the constraints of the pandemic. According to a 2019 survey, remote workers were, on average, more productive than office-based employees, producing 16.8 more days' worth of work per year.
However, recruiting in the age of remote work is an entirely different challenge for HR teams that are used to face-to-face interviewing methods and more traditional metrics for vetting potential workers. With these new hurdles in mind, let's consider the following key tips for hiring employees when business teams are working remotely.
1. Make sure candidates are aware of your adopted remote methods.
The most significant difference between recruiting remotely versus more traditional hiring processes can be found in how interviews are conducted. Applying for open job positions has remained largely digital for almost two decades now, meaning recruiters can continue to follow their pre-existing procedures even while working from home.
Video interviews are a relatively new concept for both recruiters and applicants alike; one of the most important things employers need to bear in mind is that applicants may be entirely unaware of where they stand. Keep your processes as transparent as possible in terms of how you receive applications, screen candidates and assess them. This helps applicants to know what to expect from their interviews, and it gives them a chance to properly prepare.
Interviewing candidates in person has been identified by some as an ineffective way of recruiting the right applicant for a job. It's difficult to gain a comprehensive understanding of a potential employee in such a small window of time in such an intense environment. Video interviews can be difficult for employers to monitor how a candidate responds to questions (because it can be hard to judge body language), but they offer an opportunity to make applicants feel more comfortable in their home.
Help assure candidates by letting them know well in advance what your interview process will be like, and, importantly, which conferencing software program you'll use to conduct the interview so they can familiarize themselves with the app and become comfortable using it.
2. Give applicants the freedom to choose their interview time slots.
While this may seem like a menial task, offering candidates several time options to choose from saves you and your HR team plenty of time discussing what time works best for everyone.
Further, because job interviews are now increasingly taking place digitally, it can be easier to coordinate everyone's schedule so that important members of your staff can attend the interview.
3. Set reminders.
Always send pre-interview reminders so candidates (and interviewers alike) have plenty of time to prepare. These reminders can serve to notify participants two days, 24 hours, two hours or 15 minutes in advance so everyone can manage their schedules and shift to an interview mindset closer to the time of the event.
4. Establish an interview structure.
Ensure your interviewers or HR panels are prepared with a set of questions and interview objectives. Is the interview you're setting up focused on company culture? Job specifics? Candidate aptitude?
Create house interview guides that aid interviewers so they are prepared for the interview and so that hiring decisions are based on comparable data, rather than gut feelings or vibes from interviewees. This approach can ensure that your interviews are effective.
5. Use digital tools to your advantage.
Interactive interviews can be a great way of testing the practical skills of a prospective employee, but this can be a significant challenge when conducting an interview remotely. For example, taking 15 minutes to demonstrate relevant aptitudes may be a great way of vetting applicants, but it can be a significant undertaking in a remote interview.
Many video conferencing apps offer virtual whiteboard sessions and screen-sharing capabilities that create a more interactive element for interviewers. And, depending on the interviewer's willingness to monitor the interview, the use of digital tools can provide a greater level of insight into the thought processes of candidates.
6. Introduce candidates to the software they will use.
When working in the age of WFH, there can be a lot of software for candidates to familiarize themselves with – and a distinct lack of over-the-shoulder tutelage from managers or team leaders.
It's vital that employees know exactly the programs and platforms they'll be using. Depending on your interview process, consider introducing prospective employers to each tool that they'll be using, and potentially accommodate time in the call to provide a screen-sharing introduction to the software.
7. Don't shy away from giving new employees a virtual office tour.
While many companies will continue remote work arrangements through 2021, giving new employees a virtual tour of your office can be a great way to introduce them to your office atmosphere while ensuring that they feel welcome, despite their remote location.
Including new employees on team Slack chats or regular company meetings can help them to feel that they are a part of a tight-knit and approachable team, which can ultimately pay dividends for employee satisfaction and company prosperity further down the line.