With remote work opportunities exploding in number and scope, companies looking to widen their talent pool are facing some unique challenges of a remote hiring process.
Even before the pandemic forced companies worldwide to transition to working-at-home, the number of remote work opportunities was consistently increasing. If your company is sourcing candidates for a remote position, your hiring manager or recruiter will have a lot on their plate.
The process of hiring a remote team is different from hiring a co-located one. You have to deal with an above-average number of applications, shortlist them, and schedule interviews through video with each one of them.
The video interview process can be delicate too. There’s also the remote onboarding you have to deal with after recruiting someone.
So let’s delve deeper into some of the challenges you have to confront as a recruiter during the remote hiring process:
A large number of applicants
Remote work opportunities are attractive to employers and employees alike. For one, employees enjoy the flexibility that such a working arrangement offers. Additionally, it enables previously underrepresented groups to enter the workforce, such as people with disabilities unable to commute to an office setting.
This has given rise to more diverse workplaces. For employees, this diversity also extends to sourcing talented employees in previously untapped markets, unrestricted by physical boundaries or location.
Hence, remote positions attract hundreds of applicants, even for a single role, and all these applications require the recruiting manager’s attention. While it may look positive and beneficial to have an increased talent pool to choose from, it comes with certain logistical challenges.
Recruiters have to wade through countless resumes and cover letters before finding the ideal candidate. And knowing that time is money, recruiters mostly need to fill the advertised role with the appropriate candidate within the shortest time possible.
As the hiring manager, you’ll need to create a streamlined remote hiring process to quickly filter out applicants who are not competent or qualified. This process can start as early as posting the job offer, where you can specify what sorts of applications you won’t consider.
You can also enlist your team members to form a resume reading committee to help speed up the shortlisting process. Doing this will also allow you access to their opinions on the process. Hiring a cultural fit is a bit more complicated when hiring remotely. Your team can provide you with insights on what a desirable new team member should bring to the table.
Differences in time zones
Time zone differences can hinder you from arranging interviews with applicants based on different geographical locations, especially if the time difference is significant. A difference in the time zone can cause communication issues, and sometimes you may have to sacrifice your time to conduct an interview.
The interviewing process is the most crucial stage of remote hiring. It is the only chance you have to thoroughly evaluate the candidates to choose the one with top-notch credentials, expertise, and soft skills.
The process of scheduling interviews with applicants in different time zones can be inconveniencing, complicated, and time-consuming. To successfully reach all candidates, you have to send multiple Emails or make phone calls and set up the interviews at a suitable time for you and the applicant.
You have to plan well, adjust your time, and put in more effort.
To overcome time zone differences, you can use automatic scheduling software to pre-set your availability to your time zone and let the applicants schedule themselves for the interview at their convenience. A self-scheduling tool will help you meet your applicants regardless of their physical location at a time that is convenient for both of you.
Difficulty with skill-setting
Obviously, you have a set of industry-related skills your ideal candidate has to possess to be eligible for the position you are trying to fill. However, if your new team member will work remotely, they will need a specific set of work skills too.
Without a good plan, you can find it challenging to evaluate the applicants’ skill sets during the remote interviewing process. Deciding what skills to look for and how to test your candidate for those skills is not always evident.
Even when you know that the ideal candidate should manage their time well, deal with distractions or organise their workspace, and many other qualifications, gauging them from a remote location is not a cakewalk.
Remote work can be problematic for employees who haven’t tried it before. Being disciplined is among the most important skills one should have. A remote worker must know how to manage their time effectively and how to set up a productive working environment.
In the interview, the remote applicant should exhibit specific characteristics to show you they are suited to the position you are looking for. Communication skills, emotional intelligence, and self-management – the list is long. If they are not capable or disciplined enough to manage their day, they will struggle a lot before adjusting.
For your company, this means a lag in project completion, reduced delivery time, and a loss. To test and gauge their skills, you’ll need to assess their abilities based on the position they’re applying for. Research beforehand to understand the skills required for a particular role. The way they’ll respond to questions and interact with you throughout the entire interview process will tell you if they’re qualified.
A small test project will show you how long it took them to complete the task, how they use the resources they have at hand, and what they do if they run into a problem.
You can also use custom skill tests to evaluate the candidate’s expertise. Whichever aptitudes you want to measure in the applicant, a skill test tool can help you implement custom skills that are necessary for the position.
Dealing with technical difficulties
Sometimes after thorough preparation, technology can fail you. Problems with the software, poor internet connection, and communication issues due to inconsistent video or audio quality are some of the mishaps you may have to face in the middle of a Skype interview with an applicant.
Such problems can affect a candidate’s experience negatively.
When you experience technical issues, the candidate may misunderstand the question or give an incorrect answer. Sometimes you struggle to hear what the interviewee says due to the noise picked by your microphone from other sources. Such an experience can influence your judgment of the whole interview process.
Always create a backup plan in case your web conferencing technology fails you. You can also reschedule the interviews and work on correcting the glitch.
Struggling with onboarding new hires
Due to a lack of engagement, remote employees can be slower to adapt to their new positions. For new hires, starting a job can be scary if they haven’t had the opportunity to meet other team members in person. The confusion and ambiguity of working remotely, combined with being in a new situation, can overwhelm their onboarding process.
As a hiring manager, you know that the onboarding process sets the tone for your candidate’s professional future with your company. A remote onboarding process is vastly different from an in-person one and will require more effort, planning, and time and your part.
Getting your employee the right tools and creating work accounts is the easiest step. But if something goes wrong for some reason, you need to ensure your employee knows whom to turn to for help. As opposed to office work, your remote team members don’t have the benefit of simply turning to a coworker for a quick question.
Establishing communication between team members should be your goal from day one, especially if your teams need to collaborate to complete some tasks.
You have to assist a new employee in getting acquainted with their team. To achieve this, you can organise casual team meetings through video. The sessions will make them feel part of a team with real people and give them the confidence to efficiently carry out their tasks.
Although remote hiring has its share of challenges, it’s worth the trouble. With the right tools, proper planning, preparedness, and a backup plan, you can complete the hiring process with minimal or no stress at all.
You can easily adjust and fix the gaps in technology, communication, and team building to make hiring and onboarding a swift process both for you and the new employee. Get a team to help you make the process more comfortable, and use available tech tools to simplify the complex processes.
About the Author
Ashley Wilson is a content creator specialised in business and tech topics. In her self-care time, she practices yoga via Youtube. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.