Remote hiring has been brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many companies having to adapt to social distancing requirements for the traditionally face-to-face process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial financial loss and layoffs for many sectors, but certain industries have seen little change in sales and some are even seeing a surge. For many companies, hiring is still continuing at all levels.
Around the world, stay-at-home orders have accelerated many companies’ plans to adopt remote hiring, while others have had to start the process from scratch. But there are a number of companies that have been onboarding staff remotely for years; and after much fine-tuning they have some valuable lessons and tips to share, as well as one shared message: Welcome to the biggest, most diverse talent pool you could hope for.
Put your best foot forward, tells Tallo
When hiring remotely, first (digital) impressions count. Casey Welch, CEO of Tallo, an online platform connecting talent with employers, said when hiring remotely, businesses should be hyper aware of their online presence and SEO optimization in order to attract the best talent.
He said companies should be identifying their perfect candidates and engaging with talent early and often to curate the talent pipeline, even before jobs are listed. A Tallo survey found 96 percent of Gen Zers wanted to network with a company they were interested in, even if there were no immediate openings. Welch said this showed the importance of engagement, especially now there were no geographic or demographic boundaries.
“Be really clear from the beginning about microtargeting exactly who you’re looking for and exactly who the perfect candidate is,” he said. “Spend some time really outlining what skills and traits would be the best fit for your team.”
Welch said with the global health crisis, now was not the time to mince words over expectations going into the hiring process. There should be complete transparency from employers around expectations, hours, pay and other facets of the job. “This is a time when a lot of people are struggling with anxiety and mental health and also have very real concerns for their lives outside of work,” he said.
Relevance is key for Zapier
One of the perceived challenges of remote hiring is the inability to have that in-person interview that can reveal so much about a candidate -- from body language to the way they interact face-to-face and with their environment.
At app integration company Zapier, which has 250 remote employees across more than 24 countries, having an engaging and relevant job post is one of the company’s top priorities in order to make sure they attract the right talent. For them, the more attention and creativity an applicant has to give the better.
Zapier’s ability to test and gain real insight into a candidate starts even before the interview, with job listings sometimes containing a puzzle or pitch requirement, rather than asking for a straight resume or cover letter.
The company also recommends using a project management tool to track applicants, and having as much team involvement as possible. The company says getting the whole team in on the process allows everyone some insight, including the candidate, on whether they would be a good fit.
X-Team knows to take it slow
It’s important to set up the appropriate processes for remote hiring before you launch into it, but once you have done so you will reap the benefits.
Take it from Ryan Chartrand, CEO of X-Team. His company, whose leadership team spans three continents connecting developers with employers, has been hiring remotely for more than a decade. Chartrand said companies must commit to putting in a lot of work establishing remote set-ups and guidelines, including coordinating legal and HR processes, management techniques, and finance. By rushing the process and mixing remote and office teams without adequate guidelines in place, companies risked creating toxicity.
Once the right processes were in place, the first step to hiring for a position was to establish and prioritize each essential quality for the job at hand, Chartrand said. Him and his team take applicants through each criterion and cut out anyone who does not reach the bar as quickly as possible to save both the company and the applicant’s time.
Chartrand said the way X-Team vets and tests employees is the same as what they would do in-person, and if anything the process respects applicants’ time a lot more. “While you may glean a few extra indicators of someone's personality by walking them in the door or having lunch with them, that same gut feeling you get in the first five seconds of an interview that usually instantly determines their shot at the job is still the same remotely.”
The company also has a three-month period of working with new talent before officially bringing them onboard, to establish if they are a good fit for remote work. Chartrand said given the unpredictability of new hires in remote settings, trials were common for remote companies because of a lack of reliability that comes with complete freedom. “The good news here is that if you start with trust and give them that freedom from the start, seasoned remote workers will not only show up every day, they'll deliver the best work you've ever seen.”
Dialpad takes advantage of the tech
For those working in the mobile and web communications industry, video interviews are a natural and way of hiring.
Using the video conferencing and mobile communications tools that she sells makes sense for JiNa Han, VP of People Experience at the cloud-based communication company Dialpad, which has been hiring remotely for years.
Dialpad, which has a work from anywhere approach with its 380 employees and 10 offices across the globe, uses its own products for direct calls and messaging, UberConference for video meetings and Hackerrank for paired programming.
She said the benefits were no traveling was required for the candidate, it was quick, and interviewers could dial in from multiple locations. This is particularly important for Dialpad, which often has interviewers located in multiple offices across the States and overseas. Additionally, Han said Dialpad used remote hiring to open new office locations. “Adopting our work from anywhere model allows us greater access to a larger candidate pool and makes it easier to manage the hiring process internationally,” she said.
Dialpad creates virtual culture
Replicating company culture online is viewed as a challenge with remote hiring, but by clearly articulating company values and ambitions and how they play out, and giving insight into daily operations, candidates can get an idea.
Han said Dialpad uses video and pictures to recreate the in-person elements of the traditional office that might be missed. She said despite challenges in establishing culture remotely, outweighed any negatives -- especially when companies had the right products to leverage.
With many companies now requiring workers to work from home, there has been an influx in sharing how they stay connected to work culture—be it through games, conversation starters, or themed days. Sharing those ways of communication with candidates and encouraging them to engage and ask questions can illustrate what the regular day-to-day is like in the company, even in unprecedented times.
K12 and Outschool say use a model that fits for you
If your company doesn’t have the time or resources to set up complex in-house hiring processes, consider outsourcing some of the work to online recruitment platforms.
K12, which sells online schooling programs and curricula, uses digital hiring platform HireVue, K12 Senior Vice President of Human Resources Valerie Maddy said. The online platform allows candidates to record responses to questions and scores those responses. Hiring managers then review the information, and select the most qualified candidates for the second round of interviews. For virtual roles, final interviews are done via HireVue Live, Maddy said.
For both K12 and online education provider Outschool, remote hiring was the natural way to go considering most of their employees work remotely. Outschool spokesperson Kristen Marion said the on-boarding process for its teachers included a phone conversation, criminal background check, and manual review of all listed classes. “We have loads of online resources including webinars and teacher support within our community of teachers and advocates,” Marion said.
Modern Tribe trial to avoid error
At fully distributed digital agency Modern Tribe, which has 130 team members working remotely around the world, a key part of the remote hiring process is a matrix the team has built that has success criteria and corresponding indicators of success for each role they hire for. Partner and Chief Creative Officer Reid Peifer said this helped the company evaluate each candidate against consistent criteria and reduced unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Once a candidate successfully makes it through the application and interview phases, Modern Tribe invites them to participate in a paid project trial for any position. Peifer said it was an opportunity for the team and the candidate to get familiar with each other’s working styles, feedback loops, and tools and workflows. “We consider this a two-way process where candidates can get a feel for the company culture just as much as we learn about their individual work styles, including communication and accountability.”
As with any function in a company, companies well-versed in remote hiring say the process, just like the work, all depends on the quality of communication and the established processes.
Peifer said although remote work and hiring were clearly short term solves for many businesses right now, it was an opportune time for companies to explore building flexibility into the long-term culture, and he thought there was a lot to be gained from that.
With remote working, and therefore remote hiring, becoming the new normal for many companies, it is more important than ever to have a transparent team structure so that new, or potential new employees can learn more about the company, put faces to names, and feel a part of their new team from day one. The Org helps you show off your team to the world, to attract talent and increase visibility in a now completely digital marketplace.