Top Tips for Remote Hiring & Onboarding

How do you interview, hire, and onboard a new employee without ever meeting them face to face?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s a question many of our companies will have to prepare for, as they look to rebuild and grow their teams amidst uncertain ongoing social distancing protocols.

Fortunately, there are experts in our community that we can call on for advice, and when it comes to remote hiring, Sarah Lave and CARFAX Canada have plenty of insights and information to share.

Sarah is the Human Resources Team Lead at CARFAX, and drawing from her own experiences and from the best practices of the CARFAX team, she offers a series of tips to help guide your own remote hiring processes.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Use social media to attract candidates

Develop a strategy for virtual networking (both for potential candidates, and other business contacts that may be looking for work right now). Utilizing social media and looking at these platforms when recruiting is important.
Boost your social media presence. Expect that your potential candidates are using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn – even YouTube – as resources to study up on your company culture before coming in for an interview. When executed properly, a strong social media presence can help candidates align themselves with your culture and values before accepting an offer. CARFAX has very active Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn pages, and they definitely help attract candidates.
Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Evaluate and streamline your hiring process. This can mean minimizing the number of steps, reducing the amount of people involved in the interviewing process, etc.
Consider the applicant’s location and time zone when scheduling the interview.
Prior to the interview, provide the hiring manager with an overview of the interview questions and virtual interviewing process.
Instead of having a nicely set-up boardroom like with in-person interviews, consider your own virtual meeting backdrop and your own appearance. i.e. decluttered/quiet background and wear a professional top even if you’re rocking power sweatpants out of frame!
Focus on the candidate experience

Ensure uninterrupted flow with whatever digital tool you use by testing the technology beforehand, whether you are using communication tools such as Zoom, Skype, Teams or GoToMeeting to complete interviews.
Show the candidate that you are focusing on their experience when using these tools by asking them if they have or have not completed a virtual interview before. Encourage them to test the technology as well.
To create peace of mind, provide the candidate detailed instructions of how to access and use the technology. Consider if they’ll need to download anything, enter a meeting ID, etc.

Keep focused on the candidate experience

Start with a warm welcome message when beginning the interview. That creates a safe, albeit virtual, space. Make the candidate feel comfortable by saying this is a new process for you too and that you will work through it together.
Ask them if the volume level is okay, and let them know you can repeat any questions at any time if they have trouble hearing you or if the internet connection becomes unstable, etc.
Maintain eye contact with the candidate and give them your full attention as you would in an in-person interview. Feel free to jot down notes but write the majority of your interview notes following the “face-to-face” interview, since the candidate is likely hyper-focused on your face while on camera and not in a boardroom.
Ask consistent and well thought out interview questions

When interviewing the candidate ensure that you ask questions about their past experience working from home, as this is our new normal, and working in the office are very different experiences.
Ensure reliability of your recruiting by making sure that the interview process and questions asked are consistency across all candidates so you can evaluate the candidates comparatively.

Automate the offer stage

When you are ready to hire, try to automate the offer stage as much as you can with tools like DocuSign. Same goes for the onboarding process, make best use of your human resources information system (HRIS) if you have one since there is quite often a lot of hiring documentation that new hires need to sign and submit prior to their first day. Many people don’t have printers/scanners at home anymore, so utilizing an automated system for signing documentation makes it much easier to obtain required new hire documentation in a timely manner.
A great idea would be to provide new hires a gift card to so they can set up their home office if they are going to be working remotely work awhile or indefinitely. This can alleviate purchasing and shipping excessive equipment from a small, growing or even non-existent IT support team.
Create an onboarding plan

Create a Day 1, then 30-60-90-day onboarding plan so the candidate has a sense of what they can expect. This can include virtually meeting with team members and other stakeholders across the business and this can all be populated into their calendars before their first day.
Check in before the candidate’s first day to see if they need anything. First days can be scary especially in this virtual time! Check in when the candidate is onboarded to see how they are doing and if they require any support. Scheduling a weekly touch point with the candidate could be helpful.

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