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The Challenges of Remote Hiring

Even before COVID, the workforce had already started evolving with the rise of the nomadic millennial, the ever-increasing cost of living in cities, and the upswing in global communication tools such as Skype, Hangouts, Slack, and many more. In short, everything pointed to the rising interest in working from remote locations.

A survey conducted by Buffer highlighted 2021 trends regarding the State of Remote Work. Survey results presented the following findings:

  • 45% of respondents started working remotely due to the pandemic and 46% of that group reported their company planned on permanently allowing remote work.
  • 32% reported the ability to have a flexible schedule as the biggest benefit of remote work followed by another 25% who enjoyed the flexibility of working from anywhere.
  • On the flip side, the biggest struggle with remote work was the inability to unplug by 27%, followed by loneliness and distractions at home.

In their latest Global Work-from-Home-Experience Survey Global Workplace Analytics in collaboration with OWL Labs questioned nearly 3,000 employees which revealed the following key findings:

  • 73% reported feeling successful working from home
  • 70% felt as satisfied working from home as they did in the office
  • 76% of global employees want to continue working from home

These findings indicate that remote work is easily becoming the new norm. However, hiring a remote team involves a different process from hiring one that is co-located. It may not necessarily be harder, but it’s vastly different.

With a larger number of work opportunities available to prospective candidates, businesses looking to broaden their talent pool have to maneuver their way around the unique challenges of hiring remotely.

While there are many, here is a quick rundown of the most common recruiting challenges that hiring managers face when dealing with remote applicants (thanks to Elinext software development company for tips, ideas, guidelines and info support in preparing this article).

Large Number of Applications

Remote job opportunities often result in attracting several applicants for one position and the sifting through falls on the shoulders of a single recruiting manager. The process of wading through a myriad of cover letters and resumes is tiresome and time-consuming. Plus, the qualifications are as varied as the number of applications making the sifting process much longer.

For the hiring manager, this means a need to generate a streamlined process to filter unqualified applicants or others who may not be competent.

What to do

  • Before posting the job, put some thought into the job listing such as ranking requirements from most important to least and specifying what application types won’t be considered.
  • Optimize for speed by creating a resume reading committee to expedite the shortlisting process. Work with other remote managers to filter out unqualified applicants early on.
  • Having a panel-style interview with multiple team members not only speeds up the process but also lends diversity of perspective without adding time. This garners diverse opinions and standpoints to the hiring process.
  • You could also go with asynchronous interviews where the candidate pre-records their interview based on a set of pre-selected questions. This frees up time for both the manager and applicant with candidates appreciating the prep time.
  • Include opportunities for communication before the interview like short response Typeform before moving to the interview stage. Candidates get a chance to showcase their communication acuity, and questions can be designed to assess whether they align with the company’s values. It also filters out unsuitable candidates before the time-consuming interview process. 

Evaluating Skillset

With remote hiring, recruiters have had to amend their selection criteria of the ideal candidate.

What is crucial for remote workers is the ability to self-manage and self-supervise. The ability to regulate their day or recognize when they need help is more important than the previously sought-after qualities of good communication and personal likeability.

Being disciplined is the most important skill to have along with knowing how to set up a productive work environment and managing time effectively. If someone lacks in discipline to manage the workday on their own, they will struggle later.

Determining if a candidate has these attributes can be difficult via a remote interview. Oftentimes, it’s not all about answers to interview questions but more so on how the candidate interacts throughout the entire process.

To gauge whether your remote applicant has suitable characteristics for the job, look for communication skills, emotional intelligence, and self-management as top priorities.

It makes sense to observe whether the applicant takes the initiative to reach out before the interview to confirm the link or if they exhibit any interest in follow up once the interview is done. These are excellent indicators of proactive communication.

What to do

  • Research beforehand the type of skill set needed for a position (this makes it easier for both the recruiter and applicant to see if they meet the requirements)
  • Give candidates sufficient lead time to prepare so they can assemble the required resources and showcase a true reflection of their abilities.
  • Prepare your remote interview with specific questions that tell you whether or not the applicant possesses the required attributes for the job role.
  • Assess based on the way they respond to questions and interact during the interview which means have cameras turned On. Visual communication will improve the flow of information in the absence of an onsite interview. 
  • Use custom skill tests to evaluate aptitudes and expertise.

Logistical Requirements

Be prepared for poor spotty connections, misheard sentences, and awkward pauses of silence due to inconsistent video or audio quality. This presents a greater probability of misunderstanding the question or answering incorrectly.

That said, do not let such unpleasant mishaps dictate your judgment of the applicant.  You don’t want to miss out on someone who might be a really good candidate because of technical difficulties.

Also question your candidate about requirements like a quiet place to work from, reliable internet connection, and necessary equipment to work smoothly. Not everyone may have these despite wanting to work from home.

That said, this is something that should not hold you back. You could try and contact a remote-first company to rectify such concerns.

What to do

  • Create a backup plan when web conferencing fails.
  • Advise applicants to have the correct programs installed, test speakers and microphones, and familiarize themselves with scheduling programs such as Zoom. Providing helpful instructions in advance will mitigate any confusion.
  • Keep time slots available for rescheduling an interview, if needed.
  • Ask concise questions, so technological difficulties don’t sidetrack the interview too much.
  • Choose a readily usable platform that the candidates are familiar with.

Managing Time Zone Differences

This is a common concern when looking for remote talent. Significant differences in time zones may likely demand sacrificing personal time to arrange and conduct an interview.

Working across time zones will involve being flexible about timing. You may also have to devise new strategies to manage time zones.

What to do

  • Bring in members from other time zones to help with general tasks like reference calls and train others to assist with value alignment interviews, since everyone should know what values the company is looking for.
  • Sharing recruiting load also expedites the hiring process. It also gives more input which is helpful.
  • If you’re short on helping hands, consider using scheduling software to make the job easier.

The Onboarding Process

Effective onboarding sets the tone for any employee’s professional future at the business. Remote onboarding is a vastly different process from an onsite one. It typically demands more work, preparation, and time invested by the hiring manager.

Newly employed members also need to know their colleagues and who to turn to for help. They may also need to track down the right people who can grant them access.

It’s also more challenging to get a sense of the company culture for remote workers.

What to do

  • Within the first few days of hiring, arrange an introductory video meeting with all team members so your new remote employee can familiarize themselves with the names and faces of their team members.
  • Have regular video calls to establish goals, discuss plans, and outline the company set up to help improve rapport.
  • Establish communication means between team members, especially on collaborative projects.
  • Arrange casual team meetings or informal team-building events.

Conclusion

To conclude, in a scenario where location is no longer relevant, remote hiring is here to stay. It may take time to adjust, but by using the right tools and well-thought-out planning, remote hiring can be done right. 

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