How can you meet the challenges of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding real employees in a virtual environment?

By understanding the differences that work from home means for offices these days.

In some ways, the virtual environment has helped organizations get a better sense of prospective employees who are in their homes and possibly more relaxed. But it also means that organizations have to take a few extra steps to recreate experiences that would normally happen in the workplace.

Be Upfront from the Get-Go

Let potential applicants know how the recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and day-to-day work process is going to happen. If the entire experience will be virtual, and staff and the new hire will be working from home, say so. If the hiring process will consist of both virtual and in-person interviews, or the position will be remote for a few months and then transition to the workplace, give that information to prospects.

Remember, prospects are forming an opinion of your organization at the same time you’re getting a first impression of them. Being honest and open is the best first impression you can create.

If you can’t say with certainty when or if employees may be returning to the workplace, be honest about that as well. You don’t want someone to accept a position based on a false or inaccurate representation. They’ll feel that you were dishonest when you hired them.

The Virtual Interview

There are two sets of best practices for remote interviews: one for initial phone screens, the second for full-blown interviews.

When conducting a phone screen:

  • Ask the same questions of every candidate.
  • Make sure you’re uninterrupted.
  • Take lots of notes.
  • Get a sense of the applicant. Do they sound professional?

Remember, this person has taken the time to talk to you, and you owe them all your attention.

Best practices for remote interviews:

  • If possible, have two interviewers, the hiring manager and someone from human resources.
  • Prepare questions in advance, and ask each applicant the same questions.
  • Have the hiring manager ask the technical or follow-up questions.

One good reason to ask each applicant the same questions is to avoid bias and to ensure these every applicant has the same opportunity.

We also advise being flexible when it comes to scheduling the interview. Some people may have childcare or other commitments that make interviewing between normal work hours difficult. Scheduling interviews at a more convenient time tells candidates what kind of organization you are. That goes for scheduling in-person interviews as well.

One last tip: Take note of how the person is dressed. Although dress and dress codes have become much more relaxed within the past year, the applicant’s attire communicates how serious they are. An hourly production worker wearing a t-shirt and jeans is probably okay. Someone interviewing for a higher or white-collar position should dress more professionally. Sweatpants or pajamas send a message, and it isn’t a positive one.

Virtual Onboarding

Successful organizations duplicate the in-person onboarding experience as much as possible when bringing on virtual employees. Depending upon the organization, that can mean:

  • Work side-by-side via Zoom (or preferred platform).
  • Schedule daily check-ins initially, even if only for 15 minutes each morning.
  • Organize virtual events.
  • Connect the new hire with the organization as much as possible: organize virtual lunches or water cooler chats, send them company swag, share documents and calendars.
  • Touch base regularly; don’t expect the new hire to take the initiative.

Also, understand that people are in their homes. Dogs will bark. Family members will walk by in the background. A mother may be holding a baby on her lap.

That doesn’t mean people should be smoking, drinking, or otherwise acting unprofessionally. But relax the rules you might follow in the office.

In a remote environment, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. That doesn’t mean micro-managing people or interrupting them every hour. But it does mean reaching out and calling, Zooming, meeting for virtual coffee or lunch, and making them feel included.

Remember, too, that not everyone has worked from home before. If remote working is new to them, coach them through the process so they understand what’s expected and how to manage their own work at home.

The Lindenberger Group has helped organizations in every industry thrive in virtual environments. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.