Make a Great First Impression on Remote Talent: 4 Things Your Virtual Hiring Experience Needs

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Sourcing, interviewing, and hiring top-notch candidates always come with challenges. Then COVID-19 happened, and classic recruiting methods like in-person interviews became impossible, even as plenty of jobs needed filling.

To adjust to the market and current safety restrictions, organizations have made a seismic shift and embraced virtual hiring experiences. In the process, they’ve discovered the inherent difficulties and benefits of virtual recruiting. No longer bound by geographic constraints, hiring managers and recruiters can source from a global talent pool — but so can all of their competitors.

This is why companies need the right virtual recruiting tools and processes to woo exceptional candidates. One misstep could mean losing out on a terrific employee and maybe even going through several more rounds of sourcing to find someone just as good.

The Hurdles of Remote Hiring

Attracting quality candidates is every recruiter’s goal, but how do you maximize the upsides of remote hiring while minimizing the pitfalls? One way is to make a stellar first impression — and keep living up to that impression throughout the candidate journey.

For example, having the right recruitment technology in place from the get-go is a must. Recruitment teams must be able to facilitate interviews, communicate effectively, and offer remote (and secure) employee onboarding. By reducing friction points in your virtual recruiting strategies, you’ll show candidates that you care about their needs, and they’ll be more engaged on day one if you do decide to hire them.

Virtual Recruiting Strategies That Add Value

Remote work seems like it will be here for a while. Consequently, your team is likely to continue with virtual hiring for the foreseeable future. Here are a few tips you can implement to help build the best virtual recruiting strategy possible:

1. Leverage Screen Time

Whenever possible, try to meet with your strongest candidates through video. This could be via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or FaceTime. People can build rapport faster when they see each other and can respond to nonverbal cues.

Don’t limit screen time to interviews, either. When candidates have questions that automated AI systems can’t answer, offer a quick teleconference. If an applicant can’t or won’t be on camera, that’s fine. Just give them the choice.

2. Stay Connected With Candidates Stuck in Neutral

It can be tempting to assume that a candidate who seems to have stalled out in the remote hiring process is uninterested. Don’t make that assumption. They could be having trouble with a tech portal, or they might be unsure where to turn for help.

Get in touch with anyone trapped in the pipeline. Make a direct phone call or send a personalized text message or email. They may tell you they’re no longer interested, at which point you can withdraw them from consideration. Or they might be relieved that you care about assisting them. Remember that the virtual hiring process can be confusing for candidates, too!

3. Show Candidates What to Expect

At the outset, give applicants a visual map of the virtual hiring process to help them understand exactly how things will proceed. Include as much pertinent information as possible, such as standard timelines between steps. By providing a plan ahead of time, you’ll ease any candidate concerns and help them set appropriate expectations.

As you pull together your candidate journey map, you may also want to create a separate one for your recruitment team. This version of the map will look similar to the candidate’s but will have more notes. For instance, you may want to indicate what’s happening internally between steps. You could include details on what applicants are likely to be feeling at each stage, which recruiters can use to inform their empathetic responses to applicants.

4. Invest in the Virtual Onboarding Process

You might feel like the work is done when a talented candidate accepts an offer, but that’s only the beginning. That new hire could still leave if you don’t provide a seamless onboarding and training experience.

The good news? You have plenty of avenues to take for virtual onboarding and training. According to a LinkedIn report, 58 percent of workers prefer self-directed programs when it comes to training. You could also hold live webinars and workshops or conduct one-on-one mentoring via phone or video.

Virtual hiring doesn’t have to feel like the lesser cousin of the standard in-person process. By leveraging recruiting technology and adopting a candidate-centric approach, you can master remote recruiting and snag those unicorn applicants.

Chris Werner is the director of recruiting operations at Integrity Staffing Solutions.

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Chris Werner is the director of recruiting operations at Integrity Staffing Solutions, a full-service staffing agency that ranks in the top 2 percent of agencies across the country for quality service based on ClearlyRated's "Best of Staffing" client survey.