Over the last few weeks, the way we work has completely changed. Organizations have swiftly adopted work-from-home policies to ensure business continuity, and despite the uncertainty surrounding the economy, some companies and industries are experiencing high hiring demands. As a result, managers are scrambling to implement hiring models that accommodate the current virtual landscape.
According to a recent forecast from Global Workplace Analytics, 25-30 percent of the workforce will spend multiple days working from home every week by the end of 2021. While the full impact of COVID-19 remains to be seen, as long as companies are encouraging remote practices, they’ll also need to encourage remote hiring. In light of this, talent leaders should take note of some established best practices for seamless virtual interviews:
1. Don’t Compromise Standards Just Because the Interview Is Virtual
Virtual meetings often carry an unspoken sense of informality. Despite this, interview rigor and expectations should remain as if the process were being conducted face to face. Instead of formulating an entirely new process and set of standards for virtual interviews, remote hiring should mirror in-person practices as closely as possible.
As Barry Deutsch, IMPACT Hiring Solutions partner and coauthor of You’re Not The Person I Hired, told Forbes, “Most companies do a terrible job preparing managers and executives to hire effectively, including remotely interviewing candidates.” It’s important, then, to establish clear guidelines for managers to follow as they embark on remote recruiting initiatives.
We know that open communication with candidates before, during, and after the interview is key to creating a great candidate experience in a traditional hiring process, and the same holds true for virtual interviews. Transparency is just as valued in a virtual interview context.
Also, be sure to extend the same level of support and courtesy as you would during an in-person hiring process. Share meeting invites with plenty of notice — at least 48 hours in advance. Offer support should the candidate encounter any issues with video conferencing platforms or other virtual interview software.
When candidates know what to expect and feel supported, they feel more comfortable with the process — and more respected by their potential employer. That matters: Company culture is a key consideration in many candidates’ employment decisions. According to a 2019 survey from TopResume, culture is second only to compensation when employees are evaluating job offers. Remember, they are assessing you as much as you are assessing them.
2. Pay Attention to the Details
A candidate’s preparation should be noted first and foremost, just as it would be in a face-to-face interview. While at-home interruptions have become more or less a fact of life, candidates should still default to interview best practices. That includes being on time and testing the platform prior to the interview.
Also, be sure to take note of the candidate’s environment and attire. Candidates should ensure the backgrounds of their spaces are appropriate and as free of distraction as possible, and they should abide by the same grooming and dressing standards as they would for an in-person interview. A cluttered background or casual attire might suggest a candidate isn’t taking the process seriously or lacks attention to detail.
Gauging a candidate’s personality can be particularly difficult when you’re communicating through a screen. Keep a close eye out for personal mannerisms that can offer you some insight into how the candidate thinks or feels. Much of communication is nonverbal, so paying attention to a candidate’s facial expressions, gestures, and body language can go a long way in assessing their fit.
3. Plan Ahead
Despite the months of experience we now have with virtual communication platforms like Zoom and Skype, technical glitches are still common — and sometimes, they’re out of our hands. Zoom has reported dozens of privacy and reliability issues, and with 300 million daily meeting participants using the platform, connectivity problems are bound to arise from time to time.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a backup in place. In case of a system failure, exchange phone numbers with a candidate prior to the start of the interview. That way, should the technology crash, you still have a way to get in touch.
Despite the frustrations they cause, technological challenges can also be a great opportunity to see how candidates respond to problems. When glitches occur, pay attention to whether the candidate becomes flustered or remains calm and takes the lead. How do they actively try to solve the problem, if at all? How a candidate carries themselves in this situation can tell you a great deal about how they’ll perform under pressure in your organization.
While full-time remote work for all may be a temporary response to the pandemic, it’s likely that remote hiring is here to stay. Virtual communication platforms offer an accessible way for organizations to connect with top talent all over the world. By building an effective remote hiring process, you can ensure business continuity under almost any circumstance and emerge from COVID-19 with a stronger, smarter organization.
Brad Neuenhaus is chief business officer at MindEdge.