Hiring
  •  
September 8, 2020

How To Transition From Onsite to Remote Hiring in 4 Steps

Daniel Marcinkowski

Due to the current health crisis, many companies are forced to either pause their recruiting or adjust the processes so that they can keep on hiring new people remotely. But fear not, as the biggest difference between in-person and a remote interview process is logistical. In a separate article, we already covered some of the biggest challenges of remote hiring, and now we offer a step-by-step guide to transfer to fully remote hiring. 

Of course, in the current situation, inviting your candidates to come to the office may not be an option. It may not be even possible for the candidate to start working from the office at first. So what would be the best way to bring across your culture and values via a video chat? How can you make your team and the candidates feel comfortable doing interviews remotely? How do you give an awesome candidate experience throughout the process? How do you make your hires feel welcome? 

1. Adjust your current processes

First of all, you need to adjust every step of your current hiring process to accommodate the remote conditions. Every meeting that you have in your process that was held in-person will have to happen remotely and all of the more spontaneous follow-ups will have to be done online too. This means that you have to over-process it and make sure that every decision, thought, or an idea is communicated and documented. 

Adjust the role's description

A very important one is the role's description. You have to make it clear for the candidate that they will be working remotely (temporarily) and what expectations come with it from your company's side. Things that are worth including in remote position's description:

  • Clarity about geography — does the candidate have to be based in the same country as your company, for example, because of legal reasons? Does the timezone matter?
  • Working hours — what are the working hours at your company? Are you flexible in that regard?
  • Remote collaboration and practices — how does your company embrace working remotely? How are decisions made?
  • Company's culture — how do you keep your remote employees integrated with each other? Do you organise off-sites where everyone meets in-person? How do you fight loneliness in the remote setup?
  • Career progression — how do the first 3-6 months look like? Which growth paths can you follow within the role?
  • Remote-focused keyword — if it is the case, add some remote-specific keyword so that the role is discoverable for people looking specifically to work remotely, for example: working from home, remote position, etc.

Keep your hiring team informed 

It is a great time to unify all your communication and information. When you're kicking off a new role and form a team that will be responsible for it, you should find a way to stay in touch with everyone in the team and make it simple to communicate with each other:

  • Prepare — make a document outlining the interview process for every role and guidelines for remote interviewing
  • Keep track make it a habit to put in written interview summaries, so people can read it objectively
  • Communicate setting up a private Slack channel dedicated to the role is a way to keep all stakeholders informed
  • Automate you can go as far as setting automation with your ATS so that when the candidate replies, their message will show up in your group. If you use Greenhouse, Recruitee, or other ATS featuring Slack integration, they give you the option out of the box. Otherwise, you can always use a tool such as Zapier to set up custom automation

Prepare the candidate

Create a template of a message to the candidates with an outline of the interviews and their agenda. It should include all of the topics that you want to cover during the call and the profiles of the interviewers so that the candidate will know in advance whom they will be talking to. A great way to make them feel included is to make your team members reach out to them personally. This personal touch will make them feel special. 

'You need to guide the candidate through the process and keep your promises [...]. If you don't do that, [they] might think the application is not serious.'

Prepare your team

Make sure every team member feels comfortable with interviewing remotely:

  • Share company-wide the new remote hiring setup and guidelines
  • Walk them through the tools you use
  • Share clear interviews’ timeline
  • Make them welcome and greet the candidate in the calls
  • Join their interviews remotely to give advice

Home assignment

If you're used to giving your candidate an assignment to show off their skills and prove their knowledge, these will have to happen remotely too. Here's how you can do it:

  • Send them a detailed description of the task(s) via email
  • Put time constraints on the task, both to show respect to their private time and to make sure that they work efficiently
  • Set a deadline to send the assignment by or schedule a call when the candidate will present it to you and your team
  • Think of how you want the candidate to present the results, that can be done via a remote presentation

Debrief with Hiring Managers

Interviewing candidates remotely and making a decision without meeting them could be a challenge for your hiring managers. Understanding why they want to move forward or reject a candidate becomes very important here. A lot of times, they tend to make decisions based off of a gut feeling and this is not advisable.

A good practice here would be to ask a lot of why and why-not questions. Another solution could be to create scorecards and facilitate a discussion among different hiring managers based off of that. 

An example of a scorecard

Adjust your employer branding

Employer branding serves the need that current or future employers feel connected to your company and understand the culture and values. Internal communication becomes key in a remote setup. As switching to a remote setup there are a few things you can follow:

  • Share your remote environment — since you can no longer have access to a physical workspace, you can, for example, share home-working setups of your employees, the way you collaborate remotely, but also how you keep in contact in fun ways
  • Make your team share their stories — knowing that all of your team is going through the same struggles and using at an opportunity to learn from each other and state
  • Share your cultural values how does your culture make this transition to remote possible
  • Praising your colleagues’ work publicly — this makes them feel appreciated and is a way to share work that is been done
  • Use an empathetic tone of voice — make sure to be empathetic to the current situation of your candidates and employees

2. Embrace the remote toolset in every step

Twist

Internal communication

Takes a huge part in any hiring process, and it's even more important in a remote one. The easiest way to stay in touch is to use a team messaging app like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Twist.

Documenting and sharing

When it comes to documenting your hiring process, you can rely on something as simple as Google Docs and Google Sheets, but we highly recommend looking into knowledge-base tools. We use Notion, which offers limitless customisability and lets us share things such as sourcing strategies and internal processes. Also, make sure to sync these tools with your ATS. Since you won't have in-person catch-ups with your hiring team, it's important that all of the candidates are in the correct stages of the process.

Notion

Scheduling

For the interviews, make sure that you're prepared from the technical side. Double-check if you scheduled the call properly and you send all of the details mentioned above. Isabel and many other recruiters at ACELR8 use a tool called Calendly to simplify the process. Some email clients, such as Polymail, offer call scheduling out of the box so that you don't need extra tools.

Video-interviewing

Be sure to attach a conferencing link or ask them for their phone number. It's likely that your company uses Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, or another video conferencing tool, that lets you schedule a call right from the Google Calendar or Outlook. At ACELR8, we use Google's solution since it doesn't require any additional software and works on every popular web browser, including Google Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Evaluating

Use tools such as scorecards. Use your applicant tracking system to create a scorecard and request your hiring managers to fill them out. Automate it so that the hiring managers receive reminders to fill it out after their interview. 

3. Nail the Remote Interview

The most challenging part of a remote hiring process is interviewing. It requires you to not only assess the soft and the hard skills of the candidates but also their ability to work remotely and to communicate mostly online.

Make sure that they are the right fit

You want the interviews to somewhat mirror the typical working experience of your company. If you're used to hosting the candidates in the office, think about what would be the best way to reproduce the experience remotely. If your company mostly communicates via Slack, you should consider conducting the interviews in a written form to test the candidate’s written communication skills. 

The biggest concern that you might have when conducting a remote interview is about the cultural fit. To make sure that the person will feel good working at your company, you should put much more effort into explaining the company's culture than you would do it during an onsite interview. Adding an extra informal step in the interview can be great, such as having a casual, remote chat over coffee.

'Candidates have a harder time imagining how all this is done remotely, so you need to guide them through the details'

Explain to them how the collaboration and the communication work in the company, especially in a fully-remote scenario that we all found ourselves in. Preparing by answering these questions for your company will make it easier: 

  • What tools do you use to keep in touch with your colleagues?
  • How do you catch up on the progress of your work?
  • How do you document your meetings and conversations?
  • What are the working hours?
  • How do you deal with time differences? (if your colleagues are spread around the globe)
  • What does the decision-making process look like?
  • Do you meet throughout a year? (for example, for a company-wide offsite)
  • How autonomous can one be in the company?
  • Why are you still hiring during these times? (explain the nature of the industry and reasons why it’s thriving)

Be sure to add some questions to the list that are specific for your company and its style of work. Also, don’t forget to speak about the regular remote setup, as this time of remote hiring and home office will be over one day.

Assess their remote-working skills

Even if you're planning to hire the candidate to start working onsite as soon as it will be possible again, it's likely that for a while they will be remote-based. Having that in mind, you will have to assess their communication skills and overall productivity.


First of all, ask them if they worked remotely in the past. If they didn't, ask them how they adjusted because of the outbreak — how did it change their workday, if they are struggling with this style of work, and so on.

'[Ask them] what's the reason for joining a remote company. You want to avoid people trying out this set up for the first time and then it doesn't suit them. The role of the recruiter is to dig deeper.'

As for the communication skills, ask them how they would keep in touch with their colleagues. 

  • Are they familiar with Slack, Twist, or Microsoft Teams?
  • What is their preferred communication online? 
  • Are they used to self-managing and working autonomously?
  • How do they make decisions based on limited information?
  • How would they maintain connections with their colleagues after work hours?
Google Hangouts Meet

For productivity, let them explain to you how they manage their time and tasks. 

  • How do they structure their day?
  • How do they keep the work/life balance when working from home?
  • What productivity tools do they use?

4. Onboard Your Employees Remotely

Congrats! You hired a new employee. The last part of the remote hiring process is to onboard them and make them feel at home.

A common practice among remote-first companies that have a physical location is to have the new, remote employee coming onsite for the first week so that they get a proper onboarding and get to know the team. Of course, it may not be an option in the current situation, therefore, you won't be able to do that.

Send them a welcome package

If your company doesn't have a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy, then you will have to send a work laptop to the employee. You can add some gifts to the box, such as a company t-shirt, a coffee mug, or another piece of swag.

Give them a checklist

Onboarding processes tend to feature a lot of steps that are easy to miss. To avoid that, give your new employee a checklist. It can be a physical piece of paper you send to them in the welcome package or just a list in a tool like Google Docs or Notion. Some things that are worth featuring on such a checklist:

  • Tools that they have to install and signed up for
  • HR documents to fill and sign (you can use a tool called HelloSign for this)
  • Work documents that they should read
  • Articles, books, podcasts, and videos relevant to their position and the company's product/service
  • Encouraging them to send a welcoming message on Slack
Example of a onboarding checklist in Notion

Make them familiar with the company's culture

Give the new employee a good overview of your culture and all of the employees. Be sure to give them a presentation explaining the history of the company, its mission and values, the organisational chart, and everything that will give them a good overview of the company. A great way to do so is to include informal team meetings, that replace water-cooler talks.

Introduce them to the team

Book 1-on-1’s with all stakeholders they would be working with in the future and beyond. In order to make the talks go smooth, you can give them an agenda.

Arrange training and check-ins

Once they are familiar with the organisational stuff as well as your culture, make them jump into training sessions and learn how your company works. If you have a knowledge-base such as Notion or Guru that we mentioned before, ask them to read every piece of information stored there.

You should also schedule regular check-ins with them, for example, after two weeks, a month, etc. This way you will be able to make sure that they understand everything and they are not lost in the onboarding process.

Set up a buddy system or use Slack bots like Donut to connect new employees with the existing ones

Set goals and expectations for them

The first weeks can be quite hectic and more focused on just making the new employee feel good working with you, but it's important to set expectations and goals so that, once they are ready, they can start working on making their job happen.

Ask for their feedback

If you're just starting with remote hiring, ask your newly employed teammates to share their feedback on the onboarding process. It will be very valuable for onboarding any person to join your company in the future.

Hiring remotely is very challenging, especially if you're doing it for the first time. We hope that with the tips above it will be easier for you. You're also welcome to check our previous article on remote hiring for even more tips from our recruiters. And if you need some help in hiring, we are happy to help your company!

Some great resources of companies hiring fully remote:

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