6 Critical Hiring Updates For Virtual Jobs
How to assess the candidates character and cultural fit with out meeting in person-6 updates includes: Clearly labeling position as WFH, Define boundaries of search by geo-targeting by zip code, Screen for relevant qualifications by adding target questions, assess soft skills and emotional intelligence, Interact based on workflows to simulate work conditions, engage virtual culture in on-boarding.
Like it or not, remote work is part of the new normal. Our offices are adapting, our wardrobes are simplifying, and even our production workflows have been restructured to embrace workplace flexibility. But for many businesses, one element of operations is still waiting to be updated: hiring.
During the shock of Covid-19 lockdowns in the spring, many human resource departments were forced to slow or freeze typical talent acquisition strategies, since traditional methods require in-person interviews or skills-testing on internally-secured devices or intranets. Even handshakes are problematic in the Covid-19 era. The addition of new interns, turnover replacements, employees, and temporary substitutes all halted, unable to implement a safe and viable virtual screening process — proof that we have a lot of work to do as we attempt to match the pre-hire employee experience with day-to-day operations.
But how can a company safely and confidently assess work ethic, character, and culture match without ever meeting a candidate in person? Bridging the gap between physical and virtual screening may not be as daunting as it seems. Lance Robbins, Workforce and Economics Director at remote work strategy firm, Distribute Consulting, explains, “With so many virtual tools available to hiring managers, the goal should be to build an experience that shifts focus from personality, chemistry, and certifications to communication, collaboration, and deliverables.”
To help pivot your company’s talent acquisition process towards the future of work, Robbins recommends the following six updates that will help make your company’s talent acquisition strategy remote-friendly:
- Label the Job Post — Uncertain about the permanency of their work-from-home policy, many employers are hesitant to list anything about the role being virtual in the job post or description. But, by doing this, they’re cutting themselves off from the 86% of the workforce that is currently seeking workplace flexibility as a career benefit. To access the best talent, be open and honest about whether or not a role currently has a WFH option, how long it is expected to be so, and what the company’s future remote work policy is expected to be. As we know, job descriptions are critical in attracting a candidate match. So if your post is secretive and noncommittal, think about who you’re motivating to apply.
- Recruit by Zipcode — Yes, you probably already target job seekers in certain locations, but this isn’t referring to the zipcode of the office. Yes, hiring remotely means that you can hire from anywhere, but should you? Not defining any boundaries can increase application rates too much and clog a hiring funnel. Instead, by putting an HR spin on geotargeting, Robbins recommends identifying “opportunity zones” or specific regions that will help the business more than others? Trying to open a new market in North Carolina? Hire a new sales rep in that state to reduce travel costs. Know of a few universities with prestigious training programs in your industry? Send entry-level roles in that direction. Don’t be limited by location, leverage it.
- Screen for Relevance — New-to-remote employers are often shocked and overwhelmed at the volume of applications that WFH roles attract. According to Robbins, it’s an average increase of over 3,000%. To help balance quality with quantity, Distribute Consulting encourages the addition of a relevancy filter to the early stages of a talent acquisition funnel. Why? Because hundreds of candidates are only applying to the job because it’s remote, without relevant qualifications. The simple addition of targeting questions, skills tests, or artificial intelligence screening tools can help confirm applicable experience before continuing on to more time-consuming steps of the hiring process. This step is typically unnecessary in traditional recruiting, but can be essential in controlling your applications to a manageable amount when hiring virtually.
- Assess Soft Skills — A common assumption is that hard technical skills are the most critical to WFH success. However, Robbins encourages paying particular attention to soft skills as well. According to academic research conducted by Dr. Roberta Sawatzky, emotional intelligence skills like communication, self-motivation, discipline, critical thinking, and empathy will make or break the success of any remote worker. Interviewers would be wise to adjust skills tests and interview questions to reflect proficiency in these areas, as well as technical skills.
- Interact Based on Workflows — The goal of interviews is to preview what it will be like to collaborate with a candidate, so it is prudent to replicate working conditions as much as possible. When interviewing for an in-office role, the meeting can (and should) happen on-site. However, when hiring for a remote role, you’ll want to move the event to your “virtual office” in order to get a sample of what it’s like to interact with them virtually, since that’s how you’ll be communicating with them on an average work day. Iconic remote-friendly company, Automattic, famously conducts working interviews via chat in order to simulate actual working conditions. Your company may not need to go to that extreme, but should absolutely keep at least one phase of the funnel 100% virtual to ensure successful remote efficiency for both the employer and the future employee.
- Engage Virtual Culture in Onboarding — “By far, the biggest concern that we hear from hiring employers is the challenge of introducing company culture and building team relationships without in-person onboarding activities,” says Robbins. “The good news is that it’s not only possible to have a successful virtual onboarding experience, but in many ways can enhance the training and efficiency of the process as well. By carefully designing virtual culture-building activities and thinking proactively about the employee experience of an offsite new hire, human resource teams can easily build the brand loyalty and role understanding that will prevent future isolation and enable autonomy.”
Overall, Robbins advises, “Just because your hiring process is no longer in-person, doesn’t mean that it has to be impersonal. Design an end to end experience that fosters transparency and rewards productivity, and you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you might be surprised by the positive impact of growing your team this way.”