Working remotely has traditionally been a method of employment that co-exists with in-office practices.  However, with the new reality of COVID-19, it has become the only option for many of us.

As we continue to navigate these times of uncertainty, our general hiring practices are forced to be re-imagined in order to effectively attract and employ required resources. While video conferencing software such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom offer us the technological capability to conduct video interviews, revisiting your hiring process is imperative to ensuring the right candidates are selected in a ‘remote’ climate.

Here are 8 tips for effectively hiring during COVID-19:

Define your ideal candidate

Adapting to the reality of virtual interviewing  may require a greater concerted effort from employers ahead of meeting the candidates. The groundwork conducted upfront will be an investment which helps in securing your best candidate for the job. As part of the “pre-work”, consider developing an ideal candidate profile to guide you in your evaluation process. A profile will help you articulate the specific attributes desired for a particular role. For example, characteristics may include a requirement for critical thinking; being customer focused, being team oriented, having excellent written and verbal communication skills, and a strong ability to efficiently work from home. 

Knowing the personal characteristics you want in a candidate will also help you ensure a strong organizational fit. Consider your corporate culture and your overall vision and mission when building your ideal candidate profile. By doing so, you can more readily identify personal traits that will help a candidate integrate more fully and successfully into your organization. If you are struggling to verbalize the desired attributes of your ideal candidate, consider those who are top performers in your organization. By determining their personality traits and characteristics, you will more easily define what you are looking for in your ideal candidates. As part of your development of an ideal candidate profile, don’t forget to define what are the necessary hard or teachable skills you are looking for as well as the soft skills which help an individual become a successful employee.

Develop a Comprehensive Job Description

Developing an effective job description will not only help you accurately articulate the most important outcomes and functions of a role, but assist in attracting candidates with the experience and keys skill sets you’re searching for.

In addition to acting as an evaluation tool to determine if a candidate is qualified for the position, a job description, if written correctly, can reduce hiring costs. estimates that most US companies spend about $4,000 per hire that they bring on board. If you’re unable to attract the right prospects in a timely fashion with a fantastic job description, the odds are that the spend for your organization is going to go up considerably.

Above all, your job description needs to summarize the essential tasks, responsibilities, qualifications and skills required for the role. It should introduce important company features, including the mission, culture, and any benefits provided. You may also want to stipulate to whom the position reports and the expected salary range.

Searching for more help with crafting your next job description? Click here to read our comprehensive blog post, “The Anatomy of a Perfect Job Description”.

Ask the right questions

In any organization, the goal is to hire the best candidates possible. Knowing how to effectively interview, therefore, becomes a critical function within the recruitment process. The questions you chose to prioritize should come from what you need to now in order to properly evaluate the prospective candidate and be well thought out.

While interviews often ‘go where you need them to go’ in terms of a frank discussion and assessment of experience; now is the time to have a more formal, behavioural interview planned. Define what core competencies are necessary for the position and have a list of questions and ask very specific examples of the behaviour and experience you are looking for. Whether it a technical skill, or soft skills such as attention to detail, problem solving, or resourcefulness, ask your candidate for specific examples of times when they were successful in these areas and times that in retrospect, they could have been better.

Consider adding an assessment tool that can help define a skill set more clearly. Whether this involves language testing; software testing or personality profiling; having hard evidence can not only benchmark training requirements, but can also build out your on-boarding plan to address any deficits. We can help here.

Take Advantage of Candidate References

Unfortunately, remote interviews may hamper your ability to fully assess a candidate’s fit during a telephone or teleconference interview. The selection of a new hire is typically achieved in person, where you have the best opportunity to assess a candidate based on verbal and non-verbal cues. Non-verbal communication includes body language, voice intonation, and facial expressions. Other non-verbal cues include how a candidate is dressed, how firm their handshake is, and how well they are groomed. Although remote interviewing may leave you somewhat disadvantaged, we encourage you to not be disheartened by the realities of the “new normal” of a remote recruitment landscape. 

As an employer, you can leverage other tools to help you select the best candidate for your organization. As a hiring manager, you may typically only check references for your top two or three candidates. Conducting a reference check can become a critical component of assessing a candidates capabilities and fit with your organization. As such, you may extend the field of reference checking to include the top 5-6 candidates. Try reaching out to the candidates references directly through telephone conversations versus a written referral. Prepare a list of telephone questions for each reference check to ensure that you are consistent with your intelligence gathering. Instead of the typical questions asked of a reference, think about more pointed questions which will help you assess the likelihood of a candidate’s success in your organization. Take a critical look at who has been provided in terms of how directly they supervised your prospective hire and once again, build out your references to address any residual questions that you might have about competencies, behaviours and experience.

Take advantage of Video Conferencing

While meeting candidates in-person is on somewhat of a temporary hold, it is important to take advantage of the many video conferencing tools readily available including Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Jabber, and Google Hangouts.

Although remote interviewing may not offer the same level of nonverbal cue assessment, enthusiasm, communication skills, personality, and presentation can all continue to be evaluated while using video conferencing technology to make a more informed hiring decision. 

Apply an Effective Evaluation Strategy

Evaluating a job applicant through a remote recruitment process can be challenging. Nonverbal communication adds considerable insight into a candidate and remote interviewing makes assessing these cues more difficult. Paying attention to certain behaviours and allowing them to better inform your decision can lead to a more effective hire.

Consider the following: Do they possess strong communication skills? How do they conduct email and phone conversations with you? Have they taken the time to create a professional video conferencing environment? How do they present themselves?

All of these factors should have greater significance within your evaluation strategy when selecting the right candidate.

Create an Exceptional Candidate Experience

Typically,  you only get one chance to make a great impression with top tier candidates who have made it to the final stages of your recruitment process.  A positive interview experience may be the determining factor in whether or not your bid to woo  an  ideal candidate is successful.  Conversely,  a poor interview experience can leave candidates feeling like they have had an off-putting  encounter, which may in turn  have negative  implications  for your organization, and may even tarnish  your corporate brand. With this in mind, it is important to provide candidates with the best possible interview experience, regardless of the current remote work circumstances.

Although more challenging, you must strive  to provide a warm and  welcoming environment to sought-after prospects.  By creating an open and a trusted environment, candidates will be more likely to  reveal their true nature, and enable  easier and more natural conversations.  Remember that highly skilled candidates will have a greater number of opportunities and will dismiss those that have failed to leave a positive experience during the interview process.  Ensure that they have the opportunity to ask all the questions they may have while providing a positive environment. Furthermore, be mindful to remain transparent with your candidates throughout the entire recruitment process and ensure they are not left in the dark at any stage.

Consider Using a Professional Search & Staffing Firm

Finally, consider using a professional search & staffing firm like LRO Staffing. Deemed an essential service, our team, along with a progressive digital marketing presence, continues to offer our recruitment services to prospective employers. We can augment your field of prospective candidates at a time when securing top talent is challenging, in addition to offering our staffing expertise and assessment tools.

For further information or staffing related inquiries, contact us today.

Shannon Maloney

Author Shannon Maloney

Having worked as a Director for a multi-national staffing firm specializing in administrative and executive support, coupled with her Human Resource Diploma with honours achieved through Humber College, Shannon has gained an appreciation and desire to assist clients and candidates at every stage of the hiring and career management process.

More posts by Shannon Maloney