5 Tips for Remote Hiring During COVID-19

Hiring has undergone a dramatic change in the last few months. With most employees in the United States now working from home, work has gone remote, and by necessity so has hiring.

Remote hiring isn’t new. Organizations have been successfully finding and hiring great candidates remotely for years, but never before has the entire economy been thrown abruptly into a wholly remote process. COVID-19 requires recruiters to rely more heavily on technology, to lean on stronger communication, and to incorporate better, more predictive ways to assess candidates. Here are five tips for hiring great employees from afar during COVID-19:

1. Invest in a video interviewing strategy

The in-person interview is the first and most obvious part of the hiring process that has to change today. Video interviews don’t have to be all that different from an in-person experience, and much of the underlying strategies for conducting a strong interview remain the same.

First, you need to decide what technology to use to conduct these interviews. Fortunately there are a lot of options. If your organization already uses a video conferencing tool, such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, or BlueJeans, you can use these virtual meeting rooms in a pinch to meet with prospective candidates. If you want a more robust platform specifically designed for video interviewing, you can use a solution provider that specializes in video interviewing, or even lean on video interviewing tools that your ATS may offer.

Second, you need to have a strategy in place for how to conduct these interviews. This is no different than if you were planning in-person interviews, just with more technological factors to consider. For example, if multiple stakeholders are interviewing the candidate, would more than one interviewer be on the call at the same time, would each join consecutively, or would they all schedule separate video interviews? Or if you typically have candidates go through a whiteboard exercise during an in-person interview, how will you conduct a similar exercise remotely? These are all questions that have to be addressed, and the technology solution can certainly define what is possible.

And just like regular in-person interviews, we still recommend relying on a structured interview process to reduce bias and establish a more objective and predictive process to compare your final candidates.

2. Let assessments do the heavy lifting

How do you get a decent read on a candidate’s qualifications without meeting them in-person? This is a fear that many employers have during the COVID-19 crisis. While it’s scary to forgo in-person interviews, this step in the hiring process has never been particularly predictive of job performance. If anything, the interview introduces bias into the process, favoring candidates with natural charisma and good speaking skills.

For this reason, pre-employment assessments can play an even more crucial role in evaluating your candidates’ skills and abilities from afar. Assessments are significantly more predictive of job performance than interviews or even job experience. Cognitive aptitude is an especially strong predictor because it is linked to qualities like critical thinking, problem solving, and trainability. Qualities like emotional intelligence and conscientiousness are also beneficial for identifying candidates who have the ability to successfully work with their teams remotely.

The best part about assessments? Candidates have been taking them remotely for years, meaning they are easy to incorporate into the process and they represent one less change that a candidate has to experience. Criteria’s assessments, for example, can be taken on any device, from desktop to mobile phone, making it easy to gain value insights into candidate potential and prioritize who to invite to the next stage of the hiring process.

3. Make your entire process mobile-friendly

Going digital is one thing. Going mobile takes it one step further. It’s important to implement a mobile-friendly application process because many candidates don’t have access to desktop or laptop computers. This disparate access to technology is something that’s called the Digital Divide, and it’s been a pervasive socioeconomic issue for as long as technology has existed. In fact, as of 2019, 46% of lower income Americans did not own a desktop or laptop computer. If access to a computer was a challenge in the past, it is likely amplified even further during COVID-19 because of the closures of public libraries and universities.

Ultimately, the point of any hiring process is to identify the best candidates for the job. Whether or not you own a personal computer is not an indication of someone’s ability to perform well at work. Build a mobile-friendly process and reap the rewards of a larger applicant pool.

4. Consider text recruiting.

If you want to take it a step further, consider incorporating texting into your hiring process. Open rates for texts are as high as 98%, compared to 20% for emails. Conducting all of your candidate communications via text can improve your candidate interactions and even speed time to hire. One of our customers switched to an entirely mobile-friendly text-based recruitment process and quickly saw improvements in time to hire, as well as a boost to their employer brand.

5. Be prepared to answer questions about COVID-19

Hiring right now is scary, but so is searching for a job. Your candidates will have a lot of questions about what the current crisis looks like for your organization. While no one expects you to have a perfect answer, you should have some plan in place to explain your company’s position to ease your candidates’ minds.

This may include answering questions about:

  • The organization’s financial outlook
  • What the remote onboarding process will look like
  • What collaboration tools your organization uses
  • The remote work policy
  • Paid leave policies, specifically relating to COVID-19
  • And more.

More importantly, hiring entirely remotely will be a learning process. Both employers and job seekers have been thrown into a new situation, and it will take some time for both sides to get used to it. Compassion, understanding, and transparency go a long when interacting with job candidates, and can help you find talented people to join your team even in the most difficult of times.