Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, many companies were forced to switch to working exclusively remotely. One of the processes necessary for a business’ continued operation is recruitment. Even in the IT industry, this part of everyday operations is often conducted in person. So, what should you do if you must recruit new team members without physically meeting them?
From the perspective of a remote-first company
iRonin.IT started out as a remote-first company a decade ago. It’s part of our culture, and we’ve had plenty of time to perfect our processes and practices. We can reassure you right now: successful remote recruitment is absolutely possible, and it’s not beyond your reach. In fact, running recruitment remotely comes with a number of benefits - you might find them significant enough to continue running your recruitment processes remotely in the long term.
The benefits of remote recruitment
It’s actually much easier to schedule a remote meeting than a physical one. Candidates appreciate the option to talk to you without commuting across an entire city, and it’s less stressful for them without navigating to your office. This solution is also beneficial to the recruiter: they can run job interviews from any location, tap into the international talent pool, save time, and use the opportunity to verify a candidate’s communication skills. You can test how prepared they are for remote work: whether they have the required equipment or a quiet home office space. If your company works with international clients and communicates with them online, this is particularly important.
Common worries about conducting remote job interviews
Companies switching to a online recruitment are going to face a number of challenges, especially early on. All of these can be overcome - if they weren’t, we wouldn’t have stuck to remote work for a decade.
- Technical issues - the candidate might not have a working webcam, or struggle with a low quality microphone or a weak internet connection.
- Video call savoir vivre - it can be difficult to figure out what behaviors are appropriate for such conversations.
- Lack of trust and difficulties with sensing “chemistry” - it easier to judge a person and their intentions in a face to face meeting. This impacts the ability to both trust a candidate and to weed out those who won’t fit the company’s culture. The learning curve for recruiters can be pretty steep.
A solution to the issue of trust - how to prevent cheating
A job interview conducted online carries additional risk. A candidate may have more opportunities to cheat, for example while completing a technical recruitment task. They can simply google the answers they need. To mitigate this risk, watch each candidate closely. If they make strange movements, scan the screen in front of them, or write on their keyboard during the conversation, stay alert. Another big warning sign is if their responses are stiff, as if read from a dictionary (or Wikipedia). These red flags are not too difficult to catch if you know what to look for - in our experience, they’re painfully obvious in 90% of cases.
Preparing for a remote job interview
First and foremost, let candidates know as early as possible that the interview, along with the entire recruitment process, will happen 100% online. Give them detailed instructions on how to connect with you, including:
- The software they should use,
- How they can join the call - if you scheduled a Google Hangouts call, for example,
- How the call will begin - if you’re using a different tool,
- A request for the candidate to check whether their camera and microphone work correctly,
- An alternative communication tool you’ll use in case the first one fails.
(We’ll go through a list of tools you can use later in this article.)
The goal of the above is to avoid wasting precious time during the meeting on technical issues. Then, directly before the call, make sure your phone is on silent and that there won’t be any notifications popping up on your screen. You want to avoid all distractions, if possible.
Common pitfalls of online video calls
There are a few common pitfalls that aren’t so easy to avoid if you don’t have experience with the online recruitment process.
- Not joining the scheduled call before the candidate - you don’t want to give them the impression they got the details of the meeting wrong.
- Forgetting to introduce the participants - if the meeting were happening in person, everybody would greet each other. Make sure this happens on a video call, too, or else you risk being rude and making people feel left out. Our tip is to have someone responsible for doing all of the introductions, to avoid potential chaos.
- Talking all at once - role management in a video call with multiple participants is very important. Simply make a plan ahead of time and assign time slots to specific speakers.
- Interruptions from passive observers - sometimes, certain recruitment call participants are only there to listen. It’s best if they turn off their cameras and mute their microphones. The more faces the candidate sees, especially silent and inexpressive ones, the more anxious they’ll feel.
- Forgetting to mute your microphone - only the person currently talking should have their microphone unmuted. It’s not only distracting, but also embarrassing to suddenly have the call interrupted by someone’s doorbell ringing in the background, for example.
The length of an online job interview
Remember that staying focused is much more difficult during a video call than during a face to face conversation. Silences seem to stretch, and body language communication is limited. Because of this, it’s good to set a healthy limit for online job interviews. In our experience, an hour or so for the entire thing works well. If you need it to stretch a bit longer, try scheduling in a break, for both the recruiter and the candidate to relax a bit or grab a glass of water.
The methods we use at iRonin.IT
Aside from video calls - and we do require candidates to use cameras - we also conduct technical tasks to verify candidates’ skills. Pair programming is one of our methods. It helps us determine whether the candidate will be able to deal with the kind of work our team faces every day.
We make sure to relate careful instructions to ease candidates’ minds, including information on:
- Who will be sharing their screen,
- What programs the candidate needs to install beforehand,
- What the rules of completing each task are,
- How much time the candidate will have for each task,
- Who will participate in the call.
Apps and tools for online recruitment
There is a number of tools to choose from. Your decision should depend largely on what software you already use at your company and what apps you’re familiar with. Here are a few good options:
- The G Suite - Google’s collection of useful tools offers many possibilities. You can set up documents through file sharing that both you and the candidate will be able to edit at the same time, and you can use Google Hangouts to host the video call with screen sharing. It’s easy and entirely free.
- Slack - you can invite the candidate to a private Slack channel. Slack also offers video call and screen sharing functionality.
- Skype - this tool’s advantage is that many people already have Microsoft accounts and Skype installed on their Windows computers. The app is also very reliable, and offers all necessary features.
Improve your recruitment process by making it remote
Online recruitment is both easier and more convenient than many people suspect. You can save time, improve candidates’ comfort, and make a very good impression - but you need to prepare well to avoid making mistakes. If you have any questions about online recruitment processes in general, or would like advice on how to introduce them at your company - let us know. We’d be happy to share our know-how.
As an HR Generalist at iRonin.IT I'm trying to be a friend and HR professional at the same time. I'm developing an HR strategy of our 100% remote company, by adapting internal communication, HR tools and processes like onboarding or recruitment, organising events, and by trying to make our team happier. After work I never forget about relaxing in its best form - MTB riding.