In all of the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to predict what the future of your organization will look like. Will you return to the office? When will that even be? Or… will your company remain remote for the long-term?
Despite all of the unknown, you can be strategic with your virtual hiring process to set a plan that evolves as the workplace shifts. Whether you’re hiring for remote positions, in-person or some combination of both, managers and leaders can help recruitment teams meet hiring goals.
It’s time to dig into the parts of the hiring process where you can enable your team’s flexibility while improving productivity:
Evaluate Your Positions
Nearly 80% of working professionals state their company plans to return to onsite work eventually, according to a recent study from LiveCareer.
But the big question remains: do you need to?
According to the study, more than 60% of employees want their employer to let them work remotely, indefinitely, even after the pandemic is over. In fact, nearly 30% said they’d quit their job if they were not allowed to continue working remotely with their current employer.
Knowing so many workers want the option to continue remote work, start your evaluation by determining which of your roles will be able to remain remote. This evaluation means looking at what your employees want and what works for the business.
Get a pulse on your employees’ preferences by surveying team members across all departments. Knowing that you considered their feedback before making this decision is critical to employee satisfaction.
Questions to ask might include:
- In the post-pandemic world, would you prefer to work remotely or return to the office?
- How many days per week would you like/need to work remotely?
- If you remained remote, is there any part of your work that would be impacted negatively?
- If you returned to the office, is there any part of your work-life balance that would be impacted negatively?
In addition to qualitative feedback from your employees, you should also consider the more objective data you collected throughout the pandemic.
Some of these considerations might include:
- How much money did you save this year based on more efficient tools and processes?
- Did these process changes lead to increased productivity or revenue?
- Could you save even more by downsizing or getting rid of on-site offices?
Once you’ve compiled all of the data, your decision to remain remote or return to the office does not have to be unilateral. You might decide that the company will primarily return to the office but allow for more flexibility and work-from-home days. Alternatively, your decision could be case-by-case for each team or even individuals.
If you determine to return with a hybrid approach, consider the following:
- Is it possible to have two people in the same role that have different workplace arrangements?
- If so, what does that look like? How does that impact the resources you provide your team?
Knowing that so many workers have expressed interest in retaining remote work, a hybrid approach will likely be the most practical concept to attract the most diverse talent when it comes to recruitment.
How the Process Differs for Remote and In-Person Hiring
Once you determine your company’s go-forward strategy for remote work, it’s important to reassess your virtual hiring process. It may look different depending on the future of your company’s culture and working environment.
Advertise Different Benefits
For starters, the employee benefits you promote in your recruitment marketing will be different for attracting remote employees versus in-person.
Where for in-person hiring, you may have showcased your open-concept office environment and employee outings, remote employees prioritize different factors. To attract more virtual talent, you’ll need to showcase other benefits such as flexibility or employee wellness offerings.
You need to identify the right benefits to promote upfront so that you can plan your virtual hiring campaigns and budgets accordingly.
Ask the Right Questions
Once you’ve attracted the right talent, you’ll then want to consider what will change about your interview process. There are different soft skills that matter for remote talent compared to in-person candidates.
For remote workers, you’ll want to ensure they can work autonomously and problem-solve without as much guidance as they would have in an office.
You might consider asking:
- Why do you want to work remotely?
- How do you communicate when working remotely?
- How do you keep yourself motivated when you’re not in an office workspace?
Additional reading to inspire the best remote candidate questions:
- 20 Questions to ask Remote Candidates in a Round 1 Interview
- 20 Questions to ask Remote Candidates in a Round 2 Interview
For in-person employees, you’ll want to focus more on teamwork and other soft skills that lend themselves to an office setting.
You might ask:
- How do you like to collaborate with other team members?
- How do you create a community among your co-workers in the office?
Set Truthful Expectations for Company Culture
Finally, it is critical to ensure the candidate understands how your company culture looks today and how it will look in the future. It’s OK if you’re hiring someone to work remotely and plan for them to return back to the office, but you must be clear about both aspects of your company culture.
In order to retain the talent you hire, you need to consider the qualities of your remote culture, that has taken shape during the pandemic, and how it differs from life in the office. During the virtual hiring process, be transparent about these differences and ask about the aspects of the culture that excites them more. This can help you determine how they will succeed in both versions of your workplace.
Keep the Virtual Hiring Process Consistent, No Matter What
Regardless of whether you plan to return to the office, it is essential to establish consistency in your hiring process. This is especially critical in a hybrid workforce to avoid bias and maintain efficiency.
One way to create consistency is to keep all interviews virtual, whether the role is in-person or remote. This allows for all interviewees and interviewers to have the same experience.
How to be Flexible with Your HR Team
Once your virtual hiring process is established, you can enable flexibility for your own teams too. If you establish clear expectations about virtual hiring upfront, you can still collaborate while maintaining flexible schedules and work guidelines.
For example, you might require recruiters and hiring managers to keep certain blocks of time available for interviews each week but the rest of their time can be used however they need to meet their other goals. They can work from home (or anywhere else) at the time of day when they’re most productive.
Being flexible means your team knows you trust them to accomplish their work in the way that works best for them.
How to Keep Your HR Team Productive
According to the previously-mentioned LiveCareer study, 60% of working professionals have grown more productive while working from home. There are many ways you can continue to help your team be productive in a virtual, in-person, or hybrid work environment:
Identify the Right Tools
Throughout the pandemic, it’s likely that you tested new tools for team communication, sharing candidates, and automating workflows. As you determine the future of your workforce, it is critical to decide which of those tools will enable maximum productivity going forward.
You will need tools to enhance internal collaboration among recruiters and hiring leaders, no matter where they are located. In addition to talent sharing and interviewing, this also means tools to share talent market research and other best practices.
Additionally, you need to select the right tools for communicating with candidates during the virtual hiring process. Help them know where they are in the process and if they don’t get the job, keep them informed as part of your talent network.
Schedules are Key
Specifically, one key challenge for keeping the team productive is managing the schedules of recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates.
Consider leveraging interview scheduling tools such as chatbots on your career site to make the process more efficient. If you designated set times for your team to conduct interviews, you can use these tools to automate all of the details.
Designate Collaboration Checkpoints
If your team is working in many time zones around the world, it can be hard to determine the right times to work together on projects, and how to do it effectively. While you may be staying in touch throughout the week with your selected collaboration tools, it can also be beneficial to assign certain times of day or week to connect.
Let your team know what parts of the virtual hiring process you expect them to work together and what parts you expect to be independent work. If everyone has the same expectations for how they will work together, the clarity will allow for increased productivity across the board.