After the roller-coaster that was 2020, a lot of businesses had hoped to be on more solid ground by the time that 2021 rolled around. Unfortunately, the seemingly never ending COVID-19 pandemic still continues to dominate our lives – and our businesses and, is expected to do so for several months yet. For businesses, this means that measures put in place last year won’t be going anywhere just yet and that, of course, includes remote working and remote hiring.
Growing your team during a pandemic
When we were first forced out of our offices and into remote working, a lot of businesses were struggling to stay afloat. On the other side of that were businesses who were able to continue to thrive – so much so that they found that they needed to hire additional employees.
This, of course, presented the relatively new challenge of remote hiring due to the corona-virus social distancing restrictions. To begin with, most brands approached remote hiring in a slightly slapshot ‘make do’ manner, using whatever tools they had at their disposal.
However, as we began to come to terms with the fact that the situation would be less than temporary, it’s become increasingly important for companies to put a proper remote hiring strategy in place for the foreseeable future. Love it or hate it, it seems that remote hiring is going to dominate our workplaces for quite some time yet and, therefore, the following is our guide to putting together a remote hiring strategy to get the job done in 2021.
“While it took us some time, we were able to establish a properly working remote hiring system. Given that there are so many tools at your disposal, it becomes relatively easy to set it up. Still, switching to remote hiring is a task in and of itself. It’s quite hard to get used to it, but it’s entirely manageable, and if you have a good system, it’s just as effective as your regular hiring.” says Andrew Martins, senior associate at lvbet.com
This year’s model
Before beginning on your remote hiring strategy, it’s a good idea to iron out the details of the kind of working model that you intend to operate post-COVID as you’ll need to communicate to candidates that, although the position may begin remotely, this may change in the future. The following are the most commonly adopted of these:
Within this model, all employees are working remotely and stay connected using tools and technology as standard.
“Remote model is what we’ve gone for with Future Processing, and I can vouch that it works quite well. Sure, it’s not the same to conduct meetings or socialise as it is in person, but I think that it still has a lot of advantages. Full remote work lets you cut a lot on office space, commuting, and it seems that people are more productive at home office.” notes Jack Zmudzinski, senior associate at Future Processing
This extremely popular model is one whereby some employees work remotely and others work on-site. Within this model, the employer will draw up plans as to which employees will need to be on-site and which don’t. In some instances, employees may be given the option to spend part of the week working remotely and the remainder in the office.
Hub And Spoke Model
In this instance, all employees will work remotely as standard, however, the company will retain a central hub for meetings, conferences and events which employees may be required to attend. This also allows for more formal meetings and presentations with clients.
Locking down your working model is a great way of streamlining the recruitment process. By including this information in your job ad, you’ll automatically get rid of applications from candidates who are looking for a different arrangement.
The hit list
Once you’ve decided on your working model, it’s time to look at the way in which you tend to sort and shortlist resumes received. In more traditional times, this would be done manually but, these days, the sheer volume of responses to job ads can make this incredibly time-consuming. In 2021, most businesses find it beneficial to invest in recruitment software such as JobAdder or Workable which helps to cut down processing time by sorting resumes and picking out keywords to create a viable shortlist. From here, it’s a good idea to take an old school approach and to review the shortlisted resumes manually to get a better feel for skills and experience.
Remote hiring does, of course, involve at least one interview by video call. Very few people – employers and candidates alike – look forward to these but, there are a few ways of making sure that they run as smoothly as possible.
During a regular interview there are lots of pauses and awkward moments and, these tend to be magnified during an interview by video call. This can be eased by putting together a list of questions and sending them to candidates before the interview. This will not only speed up the interview and make it more fluid but it allows the candidate to present him or herself in the best possible light.
The biggest mistake that remote recruiters make is not testing the equipment before the start of the interview. This often leads to delays and more than a few awkward moments of ‘can you hear me?’ and ‘how about now?’ (yes, we’ve all been there). Arrange with the candidate to have a short test call 15 minutes before the start of the interview to make sure that the equipment is working correctly and to iron out any issues.
“Having the right workflow for online hiring is a must. If you get buried under an avalanche of technical problems, you might come across as unprofessional or plainly helpless. For this reason, making sure that everything works perfectly on your end is a virtue that always pays off.” remarks Dima Suponau, Creator of Number For Live Person
Take the lead
Just as they would in a regular face to face interview, its important that the interview sets the pace of the interview and tries to stick to a set time. Its also useful to use a calling system whereby both parties are able to signal when they have finished speaking as this helps to cut down on awkward interruptions and the need to repeat information during the interview. Where possible, a video call interview should be conducted in exactly the same way as the more traditional kind – the only difference is you’re using technology to facilitate it.
Once you’re finished with your initial round of interviews, it’s time to trim the shortlist and to request references as you would normally. Although this stage may seem a little old-fashioned, it’s still a really effective way of further shortlisting potential candidates. These days, former employers are not permitted to give an employee a negative reference but they are allowed to decline a request for a reference – which should be an immediate red flag.
Take another look
Depending on the role, you may decide to hold a round of second video interviews with selected candidates. When doing this, it can be useful to include an additional member of staff – perhaps the person that the candidate would be reporting to. Although this is helpful, you should pay close attention to the video interview guidelines laid out in this article as video calls with three or more people can descend into chaos if not run properly.
In 2020, the work audition rather than an interview was big news. While this is a little trickier when working remotely, its not impossible. You can do this by assigning the candidate to an experienced member of staff and then assigning them a task. The task should be one which involves an element of liaison with one or more members of the team in order to gauge the candidate’s communication skills. Rather than a 30 minute interview, a work audition can be extremely enlightening in figuring out if a candidate will be a good fit with the rest of the team as well as assessing skills.
Once you’ve chosen the successful candidate, and the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed on the employment contract, it’s time to look at on-boarding. At this point, it’s time to hand the new hire over to HR for all the necessary checks and paperwork to be completed.
At this point, it’s also extremely useful to put together a welcome pack to be sent to the hire and this should include information such as company guidelines and missions, rules and regulations, bios of other team members and a guide to who does what.
All of this information would normally be absorbed naturally when working in an office with a team and, by supplying this to the new hire, you’ll save them the awkwardness of having to constantly feel like they’re bothering people by asking a lot of questions.
The on boarding process tends to be formed of two parts – getting to know the job and getting to know the team. As such, it’s usually helpful to organise video calls with the team to allow the new hire to put a face to the name. Many new employees also find it helpful to have a ‘welcome event’ in the first week or so of employment – which is usually just an informal chat session with the team by video call.
“Remote on boarding can prove to be a bit of a hassle to conduct. Still, going for a well-prepared, comprehensive on-boarding is what you should do. Don’t save on your process and ensure that all of the necessary information is delivered. This lets the employees feel safer at the workplace, as they immediately know what they should do.” comments Jacek Ptak, Founder of KrakowDirect
A show of support
When beginning a new job remotely, the first couple of weeks can be tough as the new hire begins working with people they’ve never met in real life and the employer attempts to monitor the hire’s progress without coming over all Big Brother. During this time, its incredibly important to make sure that the new hire feels supported without them feeling like you’re constantly checking up on them.
Distance is no object
Hiring a new member of staff remotely can be tough and can often feel a little bit like a leap of faith. While it may not be a method that you’re accustomed to, when performed correctly, it can prove to be a much more efficient and streamlined way of gaining new employees. Throughout the recruitment and onboarding process, the trick is to perform activities in as normal a way as possible and, where you can, forgetting about the technology which is facilitating things.
“Remote on boarding cuts a lot of time on commuting for the future employees. It’s much more comfortable—both for them and for us. While you surely can’t get as much insight into a person from a video meeting, it’s still entirely possible to hire effectively. I found that this process, if done correctly, can be just as good as your regular, in-person hiring.” mentions Patrick Mazurkiewicz, Founder of Wir Entsorgen
As we navigate our way back to something resembling normal life, we can almost certainly expect a few more bumps in the road as we go along. However, recruiting new staff needn’t be one of them. By planning ahead, working your way around the technology and making sure that you have all the tools necessary to tick your way through the various steps, you’ll soon forget that you ever knew any other way of recruiting your workforce.