Did you switch to a remote hiring cycle overnight due to COVID-19? While you might’ve hired remote candidates before, perhaps this is the first time you’ve had to make those hires while being in a completely remote position yourself. The hiring process is high-touch for many businesses, with physical presence in the office preferred or even required. But that’s changing quickly as social distancing measures continue to evolve.
To help you continue making valuable connections with candidates, here are five tips for navigating a remote hiring process—from video interviews to coaching hiring managers, attending virtual career fairs and more.
1. Set up a booth at a virtual career fair
When talent can’t attend in-person career fairs (or when you want to reach non-local job seekers), consider participating in a virtual hiring event where you can meet and interact with dozens of job seekers from the comfort of your own living room (or wherever your remote setup might be).
Typically with virtual career fairs, candidates enter a virtual “lobby” where they can browse company booths. When a candidate “visits” your booth, you can chat one-on-one, share details about your company culture and even screen promising candidates on the spot with tools like chat and video conference.
Virtual career fairs are a great way for candidates to get a feel for your company and work environment, even when they can’t interview onsite.
2. Get face time with your candidates
Instead of turning off your computer’s webcam during a video interview, try talking face-to-face with your candidates to get a better understanding of their personality, skills and passions. Face-to-face video interviews can also make a positive impact on the candidate experience, and gives you the chance to connect with candidates you might not otherwise get to see in person.
As Katrina Dvorcek, Technical Recruiter at Indeed, puts it: “I believe candidates feel it’s more personal and the opportunity is more achievable when their recruiter takes time out of their day to meet with them via video (Zoom in our case at Indeed). I’ve received a lot of feedback of how appreciative candidates are that we communicate with them and keep them informed so frequently in this manner.”
3. Prep candidates for the remote interview process
Interviews can be a make-or-break experience for candidates considering your opportunity. In fact, 83% say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role they were previously interested in. Preparing them for the remote interview process can help keep potential hires excited about the opportunity.
“One major shift to my recruiting strategy is how to best prep candidates on interviewing virtually so that they’ll be just as successful and comfortable as they would be in an onsite, in-person setting,” says Shelly Bernell, Technical Recruiter at Indeed.
She recommends providing candidates with video interviewing tips — in addition to any standard prep materials you’d usually provide. Indeed, for instance, has compiled a remote interviewing guide for recruiters to send to their candidates that includes tips like how to choose the right interview space and test technical equipment.
4. Err on the side of overcommunication
Show candidates that their time and efforts are valued by laying out what the full interview process looks like from end to end. Do your best to let them know two important things early on: when a hiring decision will likely be made, and approximately how much of their time you’ll require, including the number and types of interviews they can expect.
“I believe that committing to a transparent and communicative relationship with candidates throughout the entire recruiting process is essential,” Bernell says, “and even more so in a fully virtual environment.”
If your candidates will be in all-day virtual interviews, check in regularly to make sure they’re comfortable—i.e., do they need a quick break to use the bathroom or to get a drink of water? Staying in frequent contact is also a good way to collect feedback you can use for future interviews. to improve future remote interviews.
“Since I won’t have the opportunity to meet my candidates in person and escort them around the office, I make sure to briefly check in with them during the day as well as at the end of their day to gather any feedback on their experience so we can continue to improve our remote interviewing capabilities,” Bernell says.
5. Coach hiring managers ahead of the interview
Setting up your hiring managers for success is just as critical as preparing your candidates. Start by considering potential possibilities and obstacles that are specific to remote interviewing. Will they need video conferencing software or other specific tools to interview candidates? What should they do if they experience a technical issue? How should they be communicating with candidates during the remote interview process?
MeeJee Davies, Technical Recruiter at Indeed, checks in with her hiring managers ahead of time. “Behind the scenes, I ping/email every one of the people listed on the interview the day before and make sure that they’re ready on their end,” she says.
Davies explains that you also have to get creative sometimes when you can’t just pop over to a hiring manager’s desk with questions or updates (especially if they’re slow to reply to your pings or emails). “I couldn’t get a hold of a manager that I needed an answer from ASAP on a candidate,” she says. “So I looked at his calendar and saw that he was meeting with someone in three minutes. I know that person is always responsive via ping so I asked them to tell the manager to please respond to me.”
It’s also important to touch base with hiring managers regularly to get feedback, review candidates in the pipeline or adjust job postings to, for example, designate an opportunity as temporarily remote due to COVID-19.
What if your company has hit “pause” on hiring?
If you’re in a holding pattern, continue to nurture relationships with candidates in your pipeline. Be as honest as you can about hiring timelines. If your company’s hiring pause is indefinite, consider telling candidates upfront instead of leaving them guessing.
Staying in contact with candidates helps keep them engaged so you can resume your hiring efforts as soon as your company is ready.
Turning remote hiring challenges into opportunities
Recruiting from your living room can certainly be challenging—but it also comes with its own unique upsides.
“I like to use the opportunity of working from home to focus on reaching out to as many candidates as I can and being able to increase productivity without distractions,” Palmer explains. “This also means I get to have more conversations with candidates, [which is] not only great for filling roles but helps me personally to have more human connection while social distancing.”
While you’re busy engaging with your team, hiring managers and candidates, self-care should also be a high priority. “It’s been important to remember to take breaks to walk around, play with the dogs or meditate,” says Dvorcek. “Also ensuring that I set an end time to my work day has been critical, because it’s so easy to get caught up working into the evening if you do not remember to set limitations for yourself.”