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If you’re interviewing and on-boarding candidates remotely, auditing your hiring process is critical.

Pre-pandemic, there was a quiet confidence that remote employees had (at some point) met another team member in person, had an in-person interview, or were available for an in-office meeting. Should the need arise, face-to-face interaction was readily available.

But even as many states start to re-open, some companies are opting for remote onboarding and full or partially remote work. However, with many offices closed, companies restricting visitors or practicing social distancing – the opportunity to meet someone before they start working, even once, has been limited.

While your current employees may be thriving remotely, they have a distinct advantage over new hires.  They’ve worked in-person together, understand their positions, and know their projects.  The rapport is already built. Expectations are clear.

But hiring and on-boarding someone you’ve only met via video chat is daunting if it isn’t part of your regular practice. There is a real risk of underperformance or lack of engagement from someone who otherwise would be a spectacular hire. Navigating these virtual changes, clearly defining the process, and accepting that you cannot hire the same way will lead to productive, remote hiring.

Define Your Hiring & Interviewing Process

While the overarching hiring process may not change – screenings, interviews, skills tests; the way in which these occur does. Defining the process means understanding the details. Who is taking on the responsibility for the process – who is managing it? Often, a hiring manager or HR manager will act as a point person on-site, introducing candidates to their interviewers, providing check-ins, and serving as the welcoming committee.  But virtually, this cohesive and automatic progression is replaced with meeting invites and email chains. 

Additionally, it’s important to audit your hiring process and adapt it to the current situation.  If timed skills tests are traditionally taken on-site, what is new procedure? Does a tech test now weigh more in the consideration process? Is it more important than hiring for the right culture fit or hiring someone who is eager to learn and be part of the team?

Defining the process gives a clear picture to internal stakeholders as well as candidates.  Everyone can expect and understand the interviewing timeline, the priorities, and what factors are the most crucial in deciding to hire.

Remote On-Boarding

The hiring process isn’t over when an offer is extended.  This is truly the beginning of building a rapport with a new employee. By accepting a position, an employee has bought into the job, but buy-in and engagement are critical every step of the way.  We think of ‘Day One’ as meeting colleagues, filling out paperwork, and observing company culture. But when this interaction disappears, who takes over to welcome and engage the new hire? 

The details matter. How are work authorizations being filled out? Will there be a virtual welcome happy hour? Has someone been in regular contact with the new employee; giving them an outline of what is expected their first week? It may seem like a lot of fanfare, but it’s a ritual we automatically perform when a new employee arrives on-site. 

Set Up for Success

Hiring is about filling a business need. Projects aren’t finished and goals aren’t met without the right talent.  And this means setting up your employees for success. Regular in-office contact and feedback is natural, but it’s easy to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind in a remote position, especially as the new guy. Remote employees (particularly if this isn’t your regular practice) aren’t adjunct members of the team.

Who is responsible for the new hire’s success?  Who can they go to with issues? Who will introduce them to managers or co-workers? Who will help them understand and thrive in the team dynamic?

Setting up an employee for success means starting on day one. It is your responsibility as the employer to provide this support and structure. It is less haphazard than sending someone down the hall to fill out forms or grabbing a coffee with a manager.

Defining Goals

Broadly defining the goals of the job should occur before the first interview takes place.  These goals should narrow and be explicit by the time your remote employee gets starts.  Without measured goals, you are setting up your new hire for failure.

It should be abundantly clear what the work product is the first days, weeks, or months. Both sides need to understand the measures of success and how evaluations will be performed.

Communicating Changes

What does remote on-boarding actually mean? Even if your organization hasn’t made formal return-to-office plans, it’s important to clearly communicate the expectations to your new hire. What is the narrative around returning to the office? Will some people continue to work remotely?

Be upfront about the changing situation.  Whether it is temporary, evolving, or unknown – it will save a lot of confusion and frustration later.

Hiring in a Vacuum

Don’t assume that you are the only company that is hiring. In areas like technology where unemployment continues to be at record lows – candidates have multiple competitive offers. They’re spending less time commuting and have more time to interview at their leisure. Whatever hiring process you define, consider the timing, be competitive with your offer, know what you want, and assume that you aren’t the only one pursuing this person.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to hiring during this time. Successfully hiring and on-boarding remotely is new for many organizations. It is likely more involved, and more process driven than what we’ve come to know as standard practices. But maybe this shake up will force us to audit ourselves and clarify what is most important.

If you are unsure how to begin to define your process or haven’t worked frequently with remote employees, Talener can help. From sharing current market data to helping you audit your hiring practices; we are available to provide insight and guidance to navigate the ‘new’ normal.

Connect with your local Talener office today