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Fully remote recruiting and hiring: overview and best practices

Remote recruiting is increasingly necessary for many employers, especially as working from home becomes more commonplace.

As a business leader, you may be quite comfortable video conferencing with colleagues and vendors. And, you’re probably accustomed to sourcing and screening job applicants without actually meeting them in person.

But conducting online interviews and following an all-remote hiring process – where you meet job candidates and get to know them in a virtual-only context – may be less familiar and more daunting.

What might a remote recruiting strategy look like for your company? And what do you need to know about the processes to make it work well?

In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about this growing hiring practice:

  • The fully remote recruiting process
  • How video interviews differ from the face-to-face version
  • The pros and cons of conducting interviews online
  • How to make the most of video interviews

Remote recruiting: what it can include

With planning and practice, remote options can be found for every stage of the traditional recruiting process, including:

  • Job postings and recruiting events
  • Applicant screening
  • Interviews and tours
  • Job offers

Each company has its own set of needs and constraints, which will impact the shape and form of their remote recruiting process. That said, a full-scale, entirely remote recruiting process would include:

  1. Job postings and virtual hiring events
  2. Applicant screening
  3. Self-recorded video interviews
  4. Live video interviews
  5. Virtual tours
  6. Second interviews
  7. Job offers

Most employers are familiar with digital job postings and applicant screening processes. Keeping in mind best hiring practices to remain compliant and fundamental mobile recruiting strategies, let’s focus now on the other, less-familiar aspects of the remote recruiting process, specifically:

  • Virtual hiring events
  • Self-recorded video interviews
  • Live video interviews
  • Virtual tours

Virtual hiring events

A virtual hiring event or career fair is very similar to the in-person version. You just need an online space where job seekers can interact with company representatives, view content and apply to open positions.

Hosting your own event can be useful when high-volume hiring for startups.

Self-recorded video interviews

Some employers ask for self-recorded videos after screening the first batch of applicants. Qualified candidates are asked to record themselves answering a set of questions and submit video responses on their own time.

Adding in this remote recruiting step is a great way to help you choose who should move forward in the hiring process in a standardized way. It also gives multiple stakeholders a first peek at the candidates.

Live video interviews

In the traditional, face-to-face recruiting process, in-person interviews follow initial screening processes such as resume screening and telephone interviews. 

Given how important interviews are when screening applicants, we’ll expand upon this topic below, exploring the pros and cons of video job interviews and suggesting some best practices.

Virtual tours

If the first video interview goes well, you may want to schedule another time during which you show the candidate around your office and introduce them to their prospective coworkers.

This can be accomplished easily with a handheld device. Especially when paired together with ongoing creative recruitment strategies, a virtual tour is the kind of thoughtful, extra-mile gesture that may appeal to illusive purple squirrels (a fancy way of describing choosy job candidates).

If you’re hiring for a work-from-home position or if you’re a fully remote company, however, this step may be unnecessary.

Online interview differences: the pros and cons

For the uninitiated, virtual interviews can sound intimidating. The good news? When job candidates and hiring managers treat online interviews in the same responsible, ethical ways they treat in-person interviews, things tend to go just fine.

Still, due to the virtual context, there are some inherent differences to note that can affect the interview experience.

Remote interview cons

1. Awkwardness

Using technology to conduct an interview can lead to glitches that require troubleshooting as well as more awkward silence than would typically occur during an in-person interview.

2. Diminished nonverbal cues

It’s harder to observe body language and other nonverbal signs showing the candidate’s comfort level and confidence during your conversation.

3. Limited first impressions

The candidate’s impression of your company will be limited to who and what they see during the videoconference.

They won’t be able to observe as much about your office space, and they won’t have the chance to interact with and observe other employees in passing.

Remote interview pros

1. Candidate pool expansion

You can potentially conduct a remote interview with anyone, anywhere in the country at no extra hiring cost if desired.

However, you still have the option of restricting applications to a certain geographical area. This makes sense if you need employees to be in commuting range of your office or to reside in certain states.

2. Employment branding benefits

You may strengthen your employment brand in the eyes of your candidates by advertising your openness to video interviews.

3. Hiring speed

Online interviews can be easier to schedule and speed up your hiring process considerably. When the demand for talent is high and candidates go off the market quickly, interviewing right away can get you better hires. In turn, this may help you land desirable passive candidates.

4. Behind-the-scenes impression

Observing how candidates present themselves in their own element can teach you a lot about their personalities. How they deal with disruptions, delays and other digital hiccups may also give you clearer insights into how they perform under pressure.

Making the most of video interviews

For many employers, the pros of remote interviewing outweigh the cons. With the right strategies, the last remaining obstacles can be dismantled – and perhaps help you up your recruitment strategy game.

To that end, let’s review some best practices for ensuring nothing is lost in the switch from traditional to remote interviews.

Before the interview

1. Come prepared.

Assuming that you’ve decided which digital hosting platform you’ll use, prepare for a remote interview just like you would an in-person one. Have your questions written down and ready to reference. It’s also a good idea to plan how you’ll wrap things up at the end of the call.

2. Test your equipment.

Give your conferencing platform a test drive in advance. This will minimize the risks of tech difficulties disrupting the call.

3. Check your background.

While you’re testing your tech setup, also make sure your own background looks good. Ideally, it should  be neutral, professional and free of distractions.

4. Prep candidates, too.

Be sure to communicate in advance the candidate’s options for joining the video call, sending any necessary access links or meeting codes. If others will be joining the call, show courtesy to the candidate by providing relevant names and titles in advance.

During the interview

1. Be patient.

Don’t be surprised if the candidate has technical problems during the interview. Expect it to happen. Be gracious when it does.

2. Look into the camera.

You’ll come across more naturally if you look directly into the camera and don’t watch your screen. However, it’s also important to look down occasionally and pause your “eye contact” with the camera.  

Because this is more similar to the ways in which we interact during in-person conversations, it will feel familiar to the candidate.

3. Break the ice.

You can help minimize video interview awkwardness by breaking the ice right away. Ask the candidate to tell you more about something you can see in their background, such as the nice view from their window, et cetera. Strive to set a tone of collegiality to help everyone settle into the conversation.

4. Ask behavioral questions.

As with traditional, face-to-face interviews, using open-ended behavioral interview questions is a good way to draw out candidates’ personalities. And demonstrate you’re really listening by using responsive body language and asking follow-up questions as appropriate.

Summing it all up

Thanks to technology and an increasingly remote workforce, there are many ways to ensure candidates are the right fit for your organization without ever meeting in-person.

If you’re confident in addressing the downsides, embracing an entirely remote recruiting process may help you widen your talent pool, hire better talent, and perhaps accomplish it faster than traditional methods.

To learn about more strategies for building a better team, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to attract, recruit and hire top talent.

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Building a Better Team: How to Attract, Recruit and Hire Top Talent, Issue 5
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