Best Practices for Remote Hiring
Upgrade your technology, refine your interview process, actively listen, and more.
Last Updated: October 7, 2020
Published: April 19, 2020
As remote hiring becomes more mainstream, it’s important to take a closer look at your processes around recruiting, interviewing, and hiring. It’s also possible that you may end up hiring someone who you’ve never met in person, which can be a challenging decision for both sides.
While nothing may fully replace in-person conversations, here are some ways that you can adapt to make the hiring experience more efficient and empathetic for everyone:
Upgrade your tech stack now
Leverage technology where you can for the initial screening of applications, and make sure you have a first-rate applicant tracking system (ATS) to capture candidate data and feedback.
When working remotely, it’s even more important to have all the information for each candidate readily online. Systems we like include Greenhouse and Lever.
During the interview phase, any sort of tech failure can make you and your company look sloppy, and decrease the time recruiters and hiring managers have to evaluate each candidate. It will lead to poor data for you as interviewers and a mediocre candidate experience. To avoid this outcome, make sure to answer the following questions:
Is your internet connection strong?
Is the interview room clean and presentable?
Does the interviewer have the interview information, including the time, date, and links?
Everytimezone is a great tool for coordinating different time zones.
For those who are hiring engineers and need to manage the technical piece of the interview, look for tools that allow you to show the code and collaboratively whiteboard together while still keeping a video connection active. Here are some tools we recommend:
- Coderpad: Designed specifically for this purpose and used by many top companies
- Invision: Their Freehand application is basic, lightweight and easy to use for most teams
- Hackerrank: Robust end-to-end application for hiring developers
Once you’ve made your hire, there are some great tools to support remote onboarding. Consider using Sapling to automatize your process from a distance.
Be thoughtful about choosing your interview team
Even more so with remote sessions than in person, be mindful of overall time commitment. If possible, limit the number of interviewers to the core team. Three is a good number——research has shown that there are diminishing returns for each individual interviewer after a certain point.
Have each person focus on one area (examples for engineering: coding, design, general problem-solving skills, role-related knowledge, empathy) using behavioral interviewing. Prep them beforehand on the types of questions that will be most predictive of success.
Keep the process structured and repeatable——this is even more important in a remote environment where the team is not in the same space.
Take the time to document all feedback immediately after the interview while it’s fresh. When everyone is remote, that written feedback becomes even more critical.
If your standard interviews are 45 minutes, block 60 minutes on your calendar and use 15 minutes for writing feedback.
Overcommunicate and actively listen
Remember that you’ll be missing out on opportunities for non-verbal communication, so look for ways to emphasize verbal cues. Overemote and look for ways to build connections.
When communicating over text or Slack with candidates, feel free to use emojis liberally. They add needed context and emotion to the content of your communication. Don’t just simply hand out communications tools, and expect employees to know how to use them. Provide a clear communications protocol and training for all interviewers.
Phone and video interviews can be more difficult to show you’re truly listening to someone. Here are some tips to help you actively listen:
Because it increases a connection and provides a strong presence, use video, instead of audio. Look into the camera to show you’re listening.
Give someone the appropriate amount of time to respond after you ask a question. A few seconds of “lag time” are fine. As with in-person interviews, the interviewee may need time to get her thoughts together prior to responding.
Close out the interview professionally
Always make sure the candidate understands the next step(s). During a period of heightened anxiety, helping them understand what to expect makes a big difference.
Will they be receiving a follow-up call from the hiring manager or recruiter?
Will they be having another Zoom interview?
Assess what you can do differently or better
In this time of turbulence, stick with the proven basics. Think more about tightening up your process versus changing things altogether. Remember: A good interview process should be channel agnostic and as long as you’re creating a bias-free way to collect data, connect with the candidate, and share feedback, you’re off to a great start. But the following will enhance the process when hiring remotely:
Skip the phone screen, and go straight to video. This will save time and get you both better candidate data and create a better employer brand experience.
Overcommunicate when using technology.
Tighten up your tech stack. You can get away with a more casual on-site interview but not on video.
Choose your interview team wisely—no more than three interviewers.
Consider hiring for potential rather than experience.
Resources we love
- Video Interview Guide: Tips for a Successful Interview: Whether you’re the one interviewing or being interviewed, consider these practical tips. [Indeed]
- 4 Tips for Conducting Remote Interviews: Get more advice on how recruiters and hiring managers can listen more actively during remote interviews. [SmartRecruiters.com]
This article was co-authored by Homebrew Ventures’ Head of Talent Beth Scheer.