Although at first, the thought of a third national lockdown was rather daunting to business owners, it is now apparent that (with the use of technology) businesses can be ran effectively from remote settings.
First and foremost, when working from home, it is crucial that you are fully prepared to work for optimum productivity. Once you are confident and comfortable in your work-from-home routine, you have the capability to manage your team. This blog is one of three posts that will be covering how to manage yourself, your team, and your recruitment process while working from home.
As technology has aided our communication and productivity from remote settings, many businesses will be able to continue as normal during lockdown. If you find yourself in a position where you need to hire new employees to grow and expand the business or to cut budgets, you need will need some guidance on how to employ and onboard them remotely.
This blog post will explain the different forms of video interviews and then how to set yourself up to host an interview. Then, you will be guided through the process of how to onboard a new recruit remotely.
Hosting Video Interviews
Some business leaders worry that using video interviews for part or all of their recruitment process might put them at a disadvantage.
But what are the tangible differences?
The truth is that using video interviews should not put you either at an advantage or a disadvantage when hiring – both have their benefits and their drawbacks.
· You can screen more candidates without the need for in-person interviews, which cost time and money.
· Increased flexibility of time – your working day and week is less disrupted as is the availability of the candidate.
· Less pressure on candidates can result in them giving better, more insightful interviews.
Video Interview – Disadvantages
· It can be harder to connect and build rapport with candidates.
· Limited time slots could cut interviews short where you wish to continue.
· Hiring a candidate without ever meeting them in person could go against your recruitment principles.
Interviewing via video may not be a skill that you are familiar with – but with a better understanding of how video interviewing can be a success, you can start to reap the benefits.
2) Assembling the Interview Panel
Please don’t be tempted to think that because you are conducting your interview virtually that you should include a reduced panel.
There are many benefits to having more than one person on an interview panel. You reduce the chance of unconscious bias, you need different viewpoints, such as a senior management member but also someone closer to the role to ask role-specific questions.
Before you start your video interview process, make sure that every panel member who needs to be present at each different stage is available, but more importantly that they are confident using the software your organisation prefers.
To eradicate the panel talking over each other, you could set out a guideline as to who will ask what, and in which order - with any further questions at the end. While this might feel slightly more formal than how you would generally conduct an interview, remember that the medium of video requires more planning and structure.
3) Screen Sharing and Candidate Privacy
During the interview, you may want to share your screen with the candidates or have them share their screen with you to demonstrate their work.
When sharing your screen, you mustn’t have any other tabs open containing private or sensitive information relating to other candidates that you might have been looking over before the interview.I know this seems so logical and yet it is easy to make this slip-up unconsciously.
If you are using Zoom for your interview, it is a good idea to set up different links for each interview slot or create ‘rooms’ so that candidates cannot join the same video link as each other. This could happen if one interview goes slightly over, and the next candidate clicks the link a few minutes ahead of time.
4) Video Interviewing Preparation and Skills
For live video interviews, the key difference is in making sure you are fully prepared, and that you have provided the candidate with everything they need for a smooth meeting.
This means checking that the candidate is familiar with and has all the necessary equipment and software they will need for the interview. You can provide candidates with a ‘How to’ email detailing what they will need and what to prepare for.
Getting all of the technicalities taken care of beforehand means you can use the interview time to focus on getting to know the candidate.
You can prepare a short script going over what the interview will entail, and a few icebreaker questions to get the interview started to ‘smooth’ the conversation. Mention to the candidate at this time if you will be making notes throughout so that they don’t view your head dipping as a negative sign which could derail them.
5) Communicating on Video
One criticism people have with video communication is that it is difficult to strike a genuine connection, but there are a few techniques you can use to help combat this.
Even with the fastest of internet connections, there will be a small delay between you and your candidates. Remember to let them finish what they are saying, and pause for a second or so to make sure before you start to speak.
Nodding is a great way to maintain your engagement level without the risk of interrupting. Nod while the candidate is speaking at points where you want to show you are communicating without interrupting their flow. And remember – a genuine smile goes a long way to communicating friendliness and approachability, critical attributes which will put your candidate at ease and help enhance the conversation.
Most video software allows you to ‘raise your hand’ or alert other panel members when you want to speak – make use of this feature to avoid talking over each other.
6) Video Body Language
We often forget just how much of an interview relies on interpersonal communication and body language.
Eye contact is key, as is the position of the microphone. In your practice sessions, you will be aware of where the camera is and where to look, there is nothing worse for the interviewer than thinking you aren’t looking at them.
Sit up straight and lean into the camera when it feels natural, but not too far – just enough that you look engaged and not pushed back in your chair.
You will want to look at your webcam to create a connection with the candidate, but you will also need to watch the candidate as they answer to gauge as much as you can about them. Aim for an even split of time spent looking into the camera and looking at the candidate on screen.
7) Signing Off
As the host, it is up to you to sign off the interview professionally and to ensure you and the panel have all the information they need.
In the last part of the interview, invite questions from the candidate, but if you are on a tight schedule remember to steer and contain the conversation – video interviews can have a habit of drifting off topic towards the end.
Close the interview by outlining what the candidate can expect to happen next and a timeframe, if possible. Stop the recording or end the meeting and remember to download the file if you are saving it to review later.
How to Onboard New Employees Remotely
We are all well aware by now that things are changing with self-isolating and non-essential travel in place. Remote onboarding is the only way to go if you are essential workers or determined to carry on business as usual to minimise, or even completely avoid, aftermath upset. We have pulled together some tips and tricks below to help you on your way to remote onboarding amazingness.
1) Set expectations.
The recruitment process is the beginning of the onboarding experience for the candidate, especially for remote employees so it’s important that expectations are set during the interview process. Be aware of the common struggles of remote workers and share your ideas for solutions to these. Managing workloads, ill-defined hours of work, and lack of accountability are always amongst remote workers’ negative feedback. Be transparent and honest about workload, hours of work, and any key performance goals for their role. Defining these at an early stage will help you avoid confusion or conflict further down the line.
Also, remember that with the candidates not actually stepping foot in your office for an interview, they’ll be relying on your social media and website to gauge your culture and vibe. Make sure these tools authentically portray your employee experience as well as they convey your customer experience. Ensure your “Meet the team” page is up-to-date and accurate and don’t be afraid to post internal fun (albeit over video chat or instant messaging at the moment) on your social media, it doesn’t have to all be about the product or service!
2) Have a specialised process.
Take some time to create a remote onboarding checklist. There is a good chance you have a checklist in existence already for new hires, but maybe not specific to remote hires. Some points will remain the same, others won’t be relevant, and some new ones will have to be created especially. You want them to feel comfortable and able to crack on with work as soon as possible, so think about what tools and information they’ll need to get up to speed. Consider your tech stack – who needs to set your employee up on what platforms? Be as detailed as possible. If your office manager, or the employee themselves are responsible for fulfilling a checkpoint, they should know exactly what they need to do. Being clear about this from the start means your employee will be up and running sooner rather than later. They’ll also have a much better experience as a new start.
3) Send a welcome pack (if possible).
While some things, like your company handbook, offer letter and contract, can be sent digitally, some things need a little bit of advanced planning. This is a great opportunity to also send a welcome package in the mail. If you’re unable to get the items you would normally gift in a welcome pack, branded hoodies, notepads, pens etc, due to this isolation period, then have a think of something else you could send instead? Even if it’s not company branded, your new start would still appreciate some new pens and a notepad to use in their new role. Or you could even send them a pamper package to relax after their first week on the job. Just something to say, ‘Welcome – you’re part of the team!’ and to let them know you’re excited for them to join the gang, even though it’s not face-to-face.
4) Introduce the team.
Helping your new employee meet their colleagues is easy when they’re in the office, you waltz them round the office, introducing them to everyone and explaining roles and team structures. Sure, they might forget some names for the first few days, but nothing beats a friendly, in-person chat, welcoming smile and lunch break catch-ups. This definitely is a little trickier with remote workers, but don’t let that be a reason to not do it.
It’s best to do this over video so the new hire can still ‘put faces to names’. This will also help curb the feelings of isolation and nervousness about reaching out to people with tasks or questions and fast-track their grasp of the company’s culture. So make sure you put time aside to introduce them to the team and don’t let it get put off. Not feeling properly part of the business can be really disheartening for a new start, which in turn is likely to hinder their performance. Also, make sure they know the social calendar, don’t want them missing out on Friday pints, even if it is just on a video platform. It’s nice to get to know about your colleagues’ lives outside of work.
5) Ask what works for them, accommodate, and adapt.
We’ve so far spoken about setting boundaries and expectations from your perspective. However, take the time to ask about their preferences for things you are prepared to be flexible on. Hearing how your new employee would prefer to hear feedback, take meetings, or be issued tasks can make all the difference. Taking the time to hear their thoughts gives them confidence that you’re prepared to listen to them and that you’re considering their specific needs. Why not create a ‘How I work’ document and ask your new employee to fill it out? Set time to revisit this too as their preferences may change as they settle in, and processes may need to be revised.
6) Always be learning.
Since remote onboarding is looking like it will be becoming more ‘normal’ in the current climate, you want to make sure you did your job well. So, ask your new starts for feedback, how they found the onboarding process and if they have any suggestions on how to improve for future remote employees.