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How to recruit remotely

Remote working is a hot topic for obvious reasons, and it’s likely to become one of the main features of working today that will last beyond the virus. Businesses across the US that have typically been resistant to remote working have been forced to embrace it, and the general sense is that a lot of businesses want to keep it going in some form. Twitter has told staff they can work from home ‘forever’, and Barclays have said that offices might be a thing of the past. 

For jobseekers, we recently analysed jobseeker behaviour and “remote” and “work from home” were among the terms that saw the greatest growth during the crisis. Unsurprising, sure, but this could mark the step change in attitudes on both the employee and employer side. 

So, if you’re new to remote working how do you go about hiring for it? We’ve collected some tips for you, based on our own experience as a business with a number of remote employees.

1. Embrace the technology

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Clearly you’re going to end up doing a lot more remote interviewing as part of lockdown and beyond, so you need to become handy with video platforms and other solutions. Bear in mind that body language won’t come across as well, and some people struggle to maintain eye contact via a webcam, so you may have to curtail some of your judgement on the softer skills.

Recording interviews can sometimes be useful as you’re learning, but make absolutely sure you’re clear on why you’re doing it and make sure the candidate gives you permission. Always chat with your data protection officer about how to approach this. If it’s not possible, try practising with a colleague and look for clues. 

Asking candidates to record interviews for screening purposes can also be time efficient for you both, as they can do them at their leisure, and you can watch a series of them back to back to make your judgements. These are best when short and following the same format. Ask all candidates to answer the same 3 or 5 short questions so you have standardised responses. 

2. Extend the interview process

While it’s tempting to use the nature of remote hiring to shorten the process because you don’t have to get everyone in the same room at every stage, which removes some logistical challenges, you should try and avoid this. This is because it takes a while to build a rapport and establish relationships online, so if you take your time you allow yourself more opportunities to get to know candidates and establish if they are a cultural fit. 

We’ve all had that candidate who was great on the phone, but completely blew the face-to-face interview. You need to give candidates the opportunity to show themselves in different lights, and become more comfortable with you and your business. 

Of course, you need to be up front about this to the candidate so it doesn’t seem as though you’re being chaotic or that you’re just stringing them along.

3. Maintain engagement throughout the process

We’ve all had that experience where you walk out of an interview and there’s a really good feeling in the air on both sides. That’s the result of a series of steps in the process that went well building to one another. It can be harder to generate in an online process, so that’s why it’s important to build engagement throughout the process.

Between meetings, it can be a good idea to share more information about the company, the role, or the team. It doesn’t need to be complicated – you could record a team meeting so they understand the dynamics of the team they are hoping to work with, and share that for them to watch. Or, ask some of your team to outline what a typical day looks like, so candidates have the chance to get excited about the role.

4. Include other people in the interview process

A job is about so much more than your relationship with your line manager. You want to know who you’re going to be working with beyond that. Schedule some informal chats with members of your team to get both sides familiar with the potential candidate.

Also, use the opportunity to ask people from other teams to interview your candidates, both as a sense check to see if candidates make the same impression on them as they did on you, but also because that gives the candidate greater ties to your business and makes any decision to accept a role that bit easier. 

5. Think about the job advert

If you are expecting people to work remotely, you need to be very clear about that in your job advert, and also to explain how the policy works. Even if you are still working it out, being up front about where you have got to in your thinking will be really helpful for prospective applicants. 

The worst thing is to get part way through a process and find out that the candidate misunderstood the nature of the role. Or worse, when offices re-open, if they were expecting to remain home permanently but you were expecting them to come into the office full time! Be specific and clear about whether it’s permanently remote or not. 

6. Take home tasks and assignments

A standard part of many interview processes is to ask a candidate to make a presentation, or complete a worksheet to show that they’ve got the capabilities to do the job. This becomes even more important for remote hiring as it allows you to test competencies and presentation skills that you might otherwise not be able to do remotely. 

7. Equipment

What’s your equipment policy for remote employees? Can you make sure that any equipment they need can be shipped there? Bring your own device policies are common, but for security purposes you may need to ensure that equipment is up to a certain standard. It might be easier to provide a budget for staff to find their own laptop, but whatever you decide, make sure that you communicate that clearly at the start of the process and reiterate it throughout.

Good luck with hiring! Did we miss any tips? Let us know by dropping a line at