Remaining Compassionate and Authentic while Hiring Remote

With the Coronavirus shifting business to remote work across most of the United States, remote hiring is becoming a short-term new normal, and potentially the way in which sectors will have to hire to stay competitive and healthy.  

At Edgility Consulting, up to 75% of our engagements (whether full search, recruitment, or compensation) are remote.  

The temptation with remote hiring is to think “How can we better assess candidates (given in-person interviewing preferences)?” 

The better, more humane question is

“How can we better build compassion and authenticity with candidates?”

Our experience in remote hiring (and my own crowdsourcing via social media) help me come up with three pain points in remote hiring:

Group Interviews

There is no way of getting around that in-person interaction (body language, playing off energy and vibe) that feels more comfortable than remote group interaction.  

Some ways that organizations can mitigate that:

Use the Zoom gallery view.  For both candidates and interviews being able to see everyone (and of course mandating video usage!).  

Use the Zoom small group breakout feature.  If you want your candidate to facilitate discussion, show them how to use this before the interview and share any expectations on how you expect them to use Zoom (raising hands, chat feature, etc.) to answer questions. 

Set norms upfront about how you want interviewers and the candidate to interact (everyone on mute unless you’re talking).  

Do a Zoom walkthrough before your interview.  This can help identify potential stumbling blocks or blindspots for interviewers.  For example, removing any distractions (phones, open doors, barking dogs) that likely wouldn’t be an issue in person but could be virtually.

Day in the Life Assessments

Organizations assess semi-finalist and finalist candidates with activities that mimic what they would be doing on the job.  While it may be impossible to duplicate on-site office/school tours and other classroom observations, you can still do a lot of the same things for remote work collaboration:

Sharing Documents: Use Google Docs for any in the moment collaboration to mimic in-person collaboration.  Have the candidate create a quick project plan with you. Have the candidate share their screen and share their interview work product to get feedback from you.  Dependent on firewalls or other technical barriers, share PDF versions of any documents.

Role-Plays:  Take extra time to put the candidate at ease.  Share what your expectations will be, what questions the candidate has, and how long the role-play will be. This is where being able to see more of a candidate can put you and a candidate at ease.  Most Zoom videos just have people’s faces but you could set a norm to see from the torso up.

Relationship Building 

I have often heard the questions, “How do you build relationships with people remotely?” or “How do you get a feel for someone when you can’t experience their “vibe” in person?”

Here is what we suggest:

Spend the first five minutes to get the candidate at ease.  Ask if this is their first video interview.  Talk about how they have been dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.  

Then spend the next five minutes sharing who you are, why you work at the organization, what you are looking for in the role, etc.  Also, share how you will engage via video (e.g., you will type and show no facial expressions during responses.  You will interrupt a candidate to ask a follow-up question, or to move onto another question if you capture enough evidence).

  • If already created, share any organization relevant materials (video clips, virtual tours, etc.) to give the candidate a sense of organizational culture.  

After the formal interview, spend time answering candidate questions. Create additional touchpoints as candidates progress through a process to answer questions via phone, video, or email.  

Most importantly, smile.  Prepare for any Zoom hiccups (and be prepared to do a phone interview/have a conference line ready).  Be transparent about who you are, what the role is (and isn’t), and what your organizational culture is.  

Contact us if you have any remote hiring tips or need remote hiring advice.