Colm O’Cuinneain, a fair-haired man in a shirt and blazer, sits on a light grey chair in a bright office space with a plant behind him.
Colm O’Cuinneain. Image: Greenhouse

10 tips for hiring new employees in a remote working world

16 Jun 2020

Greenhouse’s Colm O’Cuinneain shares his advice on how companies can navigate the future of virtual hiring and onboarding.

The world of work has changed dramatically in 2020. As the global pandemic has impacted businesses and economies on every continent, many companies are reframing their hiring strategies to embrace a distributed workforce environment and remote onboarding for the foreseeable future. For companies facing this shift to remote work, the process can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

From the first candidate touchpoint to a new hire’s first day, it’s critical that employers create a seamless experience for everyone involved. If your recruiting process is going digital, video interviewing will replace some if not all of your in-person interviews. While video interviews may feel a lot like talking to someone in the same room, moving from in-person to video interviews will require some changes, both in mindset and behaviour.

It’s just as important to take an intentional approach to onboarding your remote new hires as it is throughout every stage of the interview process. Adding structure to the onboarding process reduces time and resources spent by HR teams and individual departments in preparing for a new employee’s arrival.

So, what can you do to make the hiring and onboarding process easier while operating remotely?

1. Allow candidates to book their slots

Giving candidates a list of interview time options and allowing them to choose what works for them is a simple task that will save both you and the candidate a lot of time on back-and-forth email exchanges.

2. Make sure everyone is on the same page

Ensure that your candidates are familiar with your software of choice as well as your expectations for conducting the interview. If you want candidates to turn on their video, be sure to let them know ahead of time so they can mentally prepare and download the appropriate app so they feel comfortable and ready.

3. Send reminders

Send pre-interview reminders so interviewers have enough time to stop whatever they are doing and mentally and physically prepare to shift into interview mode. Even 10 minutes goes a long way to offer breathing room to collect one’s thoughts and get ready to focus on the interview at hand.

4. Test your technology

A small but important step is to make sure your camera and sound are set up properly. Test your internet speed and silence other app notifications and your mobile phone.

5. Structure the conversation

Make sure that you prepare every interviewer or interviewing panel with a set of questions and objectives. Is the specific interview focused on management style? Culture? How effective they are as a project manager?

Build out interview kits to help everyone that conducts an interview at your company to be prepared and document their responses so you can make the best, fairest decision based on data and not on gut feelings. This also affords you the opportunity to ensure that there aren’t redundant questions across different interviews to keep the candidate and your interviewers engaged.

6. Consider challenges with interactive interviews

Running remote interactive interviews such as a code assessment is challenging but not impossible. For an in-person code assessment, a paired coding station is common. You can replicate this by creating a virtual side-by-side session using video conferencing and online assessment platforms.

You can further replicate in-person coding assessments by using a virtual whiteboard session to test system design skills. Once you have the right tools, even challenging interactive interviews such as these are possible.

7. Show them the office

Onboarding new hires is one of the most critical stages in the employee experience: 90pc of employees make the decision to stick around long-term within the first six months of employment. Be sure to replicate an office visit in a virtual environment. Set up Slack chats or Zoom virtual coffee meetups while sharing videos and virtual tours of the office.

8. Introduce them to tools and practices

Include time to introduce your new hires to work practices and train them on the tools they’ll need both to perform their job and for company-wide activities such as email, chat, tracking time, signing up for benefits and requesting time off.

9. Pair them with someone

Pair new hires with a buddy or mentor to help ease their social transition into a new working environment. For remote employees, it’s even more important to foster a sense of belonging early.

10. Promote social sharing

Some companies have a private Instagram account just for employees. New hires can catalogue their first week on the job through photos and stories. There are other solutions such as Irish company Workvivo that ensure employee engagement at work, which is vital.

With preparedness and structure, your remote hiring and onboarding process can be just as effective as if everyone were there in person. Take the time to set up these initiatives across your team to ensure you’re making the best first impression on candidates and new hires and to set your team up for success.

By Colm O’Cuinneain

Colm O’Cuinneain is the EMEA general manager of recruiting software firm Greenhouse.

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