Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

5 Tips for Planning Virtual Hiring and Networking Events

Your employees are your organization’s greatest resource, but they’re also one of your greatest investments. The right employees bring your organization to new heights, while a poor fit can take months to properly sort out. You should build your recruitment strategy to help your team connect with the best candidates. Still, no matter how effective your strategies are, you’ll still need to tweak them if you shift the hiring process online.

Virtual hiring and networking events open up new opportunities to organizations, such as the ability to scout candidates from all over the country. However, there are also inherent challenges associated with the online format, such as the inability to meet in person. In most cases, organizations preparing to recruit online don’t need completely new strategies for finding the right employees, but should refine their current approach. 

At Regpack, we’re experts on virtual event management, having helped thousands of organizations set up successful online gatherings, including networking events. To help your organization prepare for your next round of virtual hiring and networking, this article will cover how to:

  1. Invest in Necessary Software
  2. Automate Key Processes 
  3. Translate Your Approach to Virtual 
  4. Identify Key Skills While Remote
  5. Plan Your Follow-Up Process

These tips are designed to help organizations make the transition to virtual by focusing on the new, technical aspects of online hiring. Remember, the goal shouldn’t just be to understand your hiring technology at a bare minimum, but to learn how to actively improve your networking potential with the technology available. 

1. Invest in Necessary Software

Remote hiring and networking has come a long way, and this past year has caused organizations to turn to distance hiring software solutions more than ever. Fortunately, there are many software options available to take nearly every aspect of your hiring process online. Every organization has unique needs for its hiring process, but a few essential features to look for when researching software solutions are:

  • One-way video capabilities. One-way interviews allow organizations to quickly and fairly evaluate many candidates early in the hiring process. In one-way interviews, candidates are given the opportunity to present themselves professionally as they answer interview questions. By recording their answers, you will be able to rewatch and share videos with other members of your hiring team before making a decision.

 Event registration and management tools. Like all virtual events, networking event attendees need to register ahead of time. Event registration software may seem straightforward, but every solution out there specializes in a different aspect of the process. Your exact needs depend on your organization, but be sure your solution comes with reporting capabilities, a centralized database, and the ability to brand your registration forms.

  • Versatility. Instead of purchasing separate software for every part of your hiring process, look for solutions that combine event registration, onboarding processes, esignature forms, and other core tools. Doing so allows your team to smoothly move through the hiring process from beginning to end without unnecessary data reentry. 
  • Conferencing tools. Before making any hiring decisions, you will need to speak with your candidates so they can meet their future employers and other important figures at your organization. While most of us have become very familiar with Zoom in the past months, many virtual hiring software solutions offer more sophisticated hiring software that allow you to brand and customize your video conferencing experience.
  • Candidate management. Software can also help your team create and review internal notes throughout the interview process, keeping everyone on the same page about each candidate. Find software that allows you to complete evaluations of each candidate then compare them against other applications.  

As you search for software solutions, create a list of potential candidates and be sure to write down why each solution does or does not work for your organization. This will help prevent backtracking as you’ll document your thought process along the way.

2. Automate Key Processes

Taking your interviews and networking online enables your organization to automate many essential processes, removing human error and saving your team time. Your organization will also collect an extensive amount of data during your hiring process, and, with the right software, you can automatically store, filter, and analyze it to help find the right candidates and improve your hiring process as a whole.

One benefit of virtual hiring and networking is eliminating the vast amounts of paper that tend to accumulate during the hiring process. Resumes and cover letters can be uploaded, scanned, and shared with your hiring team without the need to physically sort through applications. 

You can also streamline your hiring process for your candidates. Some registration forms like this one come with conditional logic features. Forms that use conditional logic adapt to candidates’ responses, meaning they’re only asked the questions that apply to them, and your database will only collect the information that matters. 

Registration systems can also automate processes such as sending emails to candidates and other members of your hiring team, or adding forms for the next step of the interview process. For example, you might categorize all interviews by stages, such as “initial screening” and “first video interview,” then set your system to automatically begin sending messages and preparing your team for further evaluation. 

3. Translate Your Approach to Virtual

No matter how refined your in-person approach is, virtual hiring requires flexibility. With the pandemic causing many professionals to work exclusively from home for the first time, even if you plan to reopen in your office, some candidates may be interested in permanent remote or hybrid options. You may even find that your hiring team wants to continue with a virtual hiring process, as well. 

Moving your hiring process online requires understanding what makes virtual hiring successful and what your hiring team and candidates need to get out of it. To translate your hiring process to digital spaces, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What questions should you ask about remote work? Your candidates have also experienced the transition to online work and communication, and they likely have thoughts on what mix of in-person and virtual work they’re looking for. Take a moment to determine what your organization’s approach will be to remote, hybrid, and in-person work, and shape your questions to reflect your organization’s decisions. For example, if you decide to offer a hybrid work environment, consider asking candidates how they keep themselves focused and productive while working from home. 
  • How will you keep your virtual approach consistent? Avoiding bias is one of the most important—and often most difficult—parts of the hiring process. One-way interviews and other virtual hiring software allows your hiring team to create a consistent experience for all candidates by asking them a standard list of questions that each candidate will receive in the same format. 
  • How can you help your hiring team? Ultimately, your hiring team will be the ones handling software, candidate communication, and everything else that goes into online hiring. Speak with your team to understand how you can support them during the interview process. Some teams may need more comprehensive networking and virtual event software than what your organization currently offers, while others might just need more time to create an interview schedule. 

Finding an online approach that works for your organization may require some experimentation. Ensure your hiring team has completed onboarding for all of your software before contacting candidates to prevent tech errors and maintain a professional front, even if you’re still refining the specifics of your hiring process.

4. Identify Key Skills While Remote 

Remote or in-person, your interviews still have the same goal: find candidates with key skills that fit your organization’s culture. Many parts of virtual hiring give candidates the time to prepare and craft their responses to questions, which has both positives and negatives. While these responses may be more thoughtful, they also remove the more personal, conversational tone that is sometimes necessary for identifying important soft skills

Most of us are aware that while resumes can provide a useful overview of each candidate, words on paper don’t always translate to ability, especially since some candidates are guilty of exaggeration. When writing questions for your virtual interviews, consider how you can draw out deeper responses from candidates by: 

  • Asking open ended questions. Yes or no questions are rarely useful for learning more about a candidate. During your one-way video interviews and initial screenings, ask questions that prompt candidates to explain how they would handle specific situations in depth. Doing so can help you gain a better understanding of their approach to problems and if that approach fits your organization. 
  • Using skill tests. Sometimes, you just need candidates to demonstrate their proficiency in certain skills. Skill tests are an unbiased metric that give your hiring team quantitative data to compare candidates. These tests shouldn’t be the be all and end all of your hiring process, but they can help screen candidates who are not up to par with your organization’s standards. 
  • Building upon previous answers during the interview. Make sure to review your candidates’ previous interviews and screenings before your live interview. Try asking candidates specific questions about their previous answers to help clarify any points that may have been confusing or vague. This can also allow you to see how candidates respond when they have limited time to compose their answers.

Whether you’re conducting your hiring in person or online, what you’re looking for in a candidate will likely remain the same. The key is figuring out how to look for those qualities in candidates without the ability to meet face-to-face. In some ways, virtual hiring can actually create fairer interviews by standardizing certain processes, but it can also remove the human element of finding the right people unless properly adapted.

5. Plan Your Follow-Up Process

Your hiring process isn’t complete until you’ve followed up with candidates, made your offers, and officially hired your new employees. Create a standardized follow-up process that lets candidates who make it to the end of your hiring process learn more about your organization so they can be properly informed when making the final decision about whether or not to accept your offer. 

As Astron Solutions’ guide to employee recruitment and retention explains, open communication is key to successful, long-lasting employee engagement, and the need for it begins right when employees are first hired. “Employees are more loyal when they feel connected to the organization. Successful organizations encourage their employees to ask questions of their supervisors regarding the business.”

Your follow-up can set the tone for how your organization communicates with its employees. Let candidates you intend to offer positions speak with your current employees and their future managers in a less formal setting. This gives them the opportunity to ask more exploratory questions, get a sense of what is expected of them, and understand what kind of people their future coworkers are. 

While many organizations have returned to the office, virtual hiring is likely here to stay. Your organization can make the most of these tools and connect with candidates you might have never previously considered due to location restrictions. Remember that talented candidates can be found far and wide, and proper and professional virtual hiring and networking processes can help you find them. 

About the Author

Asaf Darash, Founder and CEO of Regpack, has extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor. Asaf has built 3 successful companies to date, all with an exit plan or that have stayed in profitability and are still functional. Asaf specializes in product development for the web, team building and in bringing a company from concept to an actualized unit that is profitable.

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