The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way companies conduct business — and one of the most affected areas has been recruitment and hiring. While some organizations have had to postpone onboarding new employees, others have had to hire without face-to-face contact. For businesses that have never worked virtually, implementing a fully remote hiring process has proven inconvenient.
However, according to Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work 2019 report, remote work is set to remain the top option as the country slowly opens. In fact, 80 percent of the workforce in the U.S. report that they would prefer to work remotely.
In addition, companies are now realizing the myriad benefits of having a remote workforce, three of which are:
1. It widens the pool of talented candidates: Since location is no longer a factor, companies can employ staff members from around the world, spanning different time zones. A location-diverse workforce can cover extra working hours, offer better customer support and handle sales in different regions.
2. Reduces business expenses: With employees working remotely, such office expenses as rent, workspaces, utilities, food/beverage and other office management items are greatly reduced. Also, according to Owl Labs’ report, 34 percent of respondents claimed that they would be willing to accept a pay cut for the opportunity to work remotely — in part because remote work allows them to save a lot of money on commuting.
3. Boosts employee retention: Since most remote workers have the ability to work when they feel most productive, they tend to be less stressed compared to those who work in an office full-time — the same report found that 83 percent of staff members said being able to work from home makes them happier, which ultimately increases employee retention.
In light of these advantages, many companies, including Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook, have decided to let at least part of their staffs work remotely on a permanent basis.
This begs the question: What can employers do to develop a fully-remote hiring process, when, according to research done by SHRM, the average job search can cost them upwards of $4,000 and a total hiring time of 42 days?
How Businesses Can Hire Remote Employees
Recruiting, onboarding, training and supporting remote staff members is not the same as managing in-office employees. Therefore, employers can use their current hiring processes as a starting point. Then they can identify which parts of those processes need to be altered to accommodate remote hiring.
The following eight steps can help businesses successfully hire remote employees:
Step 1: Determine which skills an ideal remote candidate should possess: Begin by mapping out what you’re looking for in remote employees. Evaluate remote workers with regard to collaboration skills, time management, culture/fit, self-motivation, communication skills, adaptability and so on.
Next, come up with a set of guidelines that your hiring team can use to evaluate potential candidates, while focusing on the core competencies required to fill the remote role.
Step 2: Create a detailed job description: While writing the job description, include keywords that identify it as a remote job. This will also serve as an invitation for remote workers who are self-motivated, adaptable and organized.
- The job title should accurately represent the responsibilities of the role. Include keywords such as virtual job, remote job, telecommuting job, work remotely or work from home in the job title so candidates can easily find the position on job boards.
- In the job description, add details such as what the candidate will be doing in their role, their daily activities and how they will contribute to larger business goals.
- Mention whether the position is part- or full-time. You can also specify which parts of the world the remote employee can work from, if applicable. For example, is the role open to all global applicants, or is it just open to those who live and work near areas where certain clients are located?
- Indicate which qualifications and skills are required from the remote candidate. Include job-specific skills, prior experience, soft skills and education.
- Include particulars about the business including company mission, vision, culture, values and perks for remote employees.
- Outline other expectations as well, such as work timing, travel availability, etc.
- Don’t forget to proofread the job posting before promoting it.
Step 3: Post and promote the role: You can consider these resources to promote remote openings and recruit remote workers:
- Remote job boards such as FlexJobs, WeWorkRemotely, Remote.co, Working Nomads and Remotive are good places to start.
- Recruiting software can help find new candidates and manage the candidate database. Popular recruiting software sources include Indeed and BambooHR.
- Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Make use of hashtags and campaigns, or partner with marketing companies to give your posts a wider reach.
- Try visual formats such as video to showcase your business and its culture, to give the potential candidates a sense of who they’ll be working with.
Step 4: Screen candidates: Interviewing remote candidates is cheaper, more convenient and easier to schedule, so you’ll likely receive applications from a large number of candidates. To simplify the process, use recruiting software or a project management tool to screen and shortlist the applicants. Some tried-and-tested screening techniques are getting on a phone call with the candidates to get to know them better, ensuring they are a good fit for the vacant role and giving them assignments to test their remote work skills (such as problem-solving capabilities, how they adhere to deadlines and communication style, among other requisites).
Step 5: Prepare for the Interview: Now is the time to prepare for the remote interview portion of the hiring process. For that, start by identifying a hiring team (key decision-makers for this position, which can include people who will be working with the candidate the most and those managing them).
Then, settle on who will interview the candidate and what specific skills they will be looking for to avoid duplicate questions.
Next, share the guidelines from the first step above so all interviewers are aware of the key competencies to look for. Make sure that the interviewers keep any hiring biases out of the selection process.
Step 6: Interview the short-listed candidates: At this step, ensure the hiring team is ready beforehand to interview the candidates, ask relevant questions and build rapport with the potential new hires, and that no time is wasted evaluating resumes and asking questions that could have been answered at the time of screening.
Step 7: Evaluate the candidates: To ensure everyone involved in hiring process can voice their opinions and help offset any bias, hold a debrief with the key hiring stakeholders shortly after the interview. Before moving forward in the hiring process, ask the stakeholders to evaluate all major skills required for the job and to give detailed reasoning for their approval/rejection of the candidates.
Step 8: Follow up with the applicants: Now that the decision to hire (or not) has been made, let all members of the hiring team know of the decision before informing the candidate. Also, make them aware of the next steps in the hiring process, if any.
Always introduce the new remote hires to their new teams as soon as possible, in order to establish a sense of community early on.
Other Best Practices to Consider
- Consider the applicant's time zone and location when scheduling the interview.
- Begin the interview with something informal to break the ice.
- Use video to see how the candidate handles themselves.
- Make sure your video conferencing software (Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, etc.) and hardware (speakers, mic, etc.) are working properly before the interview begins.
- If you’re conducting the interview from outside the office, ensure that the surroundings are quiet and clutter-free.
- In the absence of an in-person meeting, which gives interviewers a chance to assess body language cues, actively listen in order to better connect with the candidates.
- Study the candidates’ resume and highlight any areas you specifically would like to explore.
- If you would like to record the interview, let the candidate know and ask for their permission.
- Smile! It’s crucial to represent your best body language in a virtual interview.