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Virtual Recruiting: Best Practices for Hiring Remotely During COVID-19 and Beyond

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Employee on webcam conference call with colleague or interviewing job candidate remotely

With advances in technology, tools, and connectivity, virtual recruiting is a mainstay of the search firm process. In recent years, many employers have also embraced virtual recruiting as part of their process and have experienced first-hand how web-enabled functionality is creating efficiency. According to a LinkedIn 2018 Global Trends Report, “video interviews are largely replacing the traditional phone screen.”  We are also seeing it replace the in-person interview.

Though virtual recruiting is not a new concept, many companies are just stepping into this foray as they adjust to COVID-19 work-from-home restrictions.  While many companies are experiencing temporary downsizings during the pandemic, others are still actively recruiting for talent. Candidates are exploring and hiring is occurring.  As we come out of this worldwide challenge together, it is likely that the trend toward virtual recruiting will have increased and become integral to how companies engage, select, and hire.

Wherever you are in the spectrum of virtual recruiting experience, and whatever tools you are using (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, and the myriad of others), these unusual times require each of us to hone our people, process, and technology skills to a new level.

Successfully doing so requires a change in cultural mindset and an operational shift for it to be fully embraced. At a tactical level, proactive and careful preparation is one of the easiest things to do and makes a major difference in the video interviewing experience for all participants. Now, more than ever, it is important to take into consideration how the overall recruiting and interview experience sends a powerful message to candidates about what it’s like to work for your company and how you treat and value your employees.

In addition to adhering to social distancing guidance, virtual interviewing allows companies to reduce cost, increase geographic reach, save time, and creates flexibility for candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. Our need to rapidly adjust to the pandemic circumstances may forever change how we approach recruiting. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened.

The landscape of virtual recruiting is one that is well-known to our executive search practice. We’ve accumulated some best practices below to help you navigate the remote recruiting and interviewing process.

PREPARE YOURSELF AND BE PROACTIVE

Treat video interviews with the same seriousness as in-person interviews.  When creating a video interview, the goal is conducting a high-quality, professional experience that reflects you and your company’s image and culture.

Consider conducting some practice sessions and videotaping yourself to get a better sense of your own natural movement, physical habits, and body language.

Here are some other best practice tips to consider:

  • Know the job description; have it printed and handy during the interview
  • Know the candidate’s resume and highlight any area you specifically want to explore; have it printed for easy reference
  • Create an Interview Guide and use it for consistency with each candidate
  • Plan interview structure, sequencing, and timing
    • This is particularly important if there are multiple interviewers; it will help you stay organized
  • Create an interview agenda template that you can tailor to each interview
  • Send an agenda to the candidate with as much notice as possible
    • Give them the context for why the interview is happening virtually
    • If your practice is to record interviews, let the candidate know and secure their permission
    • Provide specific guidance about the experience and expectations; ask if they have questions about the process
    • Include timing and parties participating (along with LinkedIn profiles)
    • Include any pre-hire documentation required for completion (application, compliance documentation, benefits information)
    • If available, include company links to virtual tours, employee testimonials, news links, etc.
    • Confirm the meeting 24-hours prior
  • Assist hiring managers in updating their LinkedIn profiles so that candidates can research them in advance
  • If you are sharing the company’s web conferencing tool:
    • Be sure there is a scheduling protocol so that no scheduling overlap occurs
    • Some companies are having one person responsible for scheduling to assure double booking or overlap doesn’t occur
  • Find an attractive, quiet area with adequate lighting to conduct your virtual meeting
    • Become familiar with using the backdrop or virtual settings function; many programs allow you to set a professional background or to import a picture of your office when it’s tidy
  • Position your laptop at a level where you can look straight ahead at the camera (at eye level) so that your image is appropriately positioned on the screen; a couple of books under your laptop usually does the trick
  • Double-check the technology prior to the interview, test the camera and microphone. Know how to use the “mute” button. Know how to turn the video on and off!
  • Sign on to the virtual meeting at least 10 minutes before start time
  • Make eye contact with the camera (not the screen); occasionally look down at the candidate’s image or to write notes as needed
  • Smile (naturally); it is important to portray your best body language in a virtual interview
  • Start the interview with something casual to break the ice; these are unusual times for all of us and starting of the conversation warmly is helpful

Creating a human connection via technology has its challenges and we need to adopt approaches that optimize the interviewing process and result in a win-win outcome for everyone. Perfecting your “practice” takes practice.  Be patient with yourself and others who are invested in the process.  Resilience will prevail!

 

Mary Riccobono, SPHR
Vice President & Practice Leader, Talent Acquisition
CCI Consulting

 

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