Hiring remotely during lockdown

Hiring remotely: how to recruit employees during lockdown

The UK lockdown that began in late March has caused many companies to pause their recruitment processes. As businesses face uncertainty over the future, this might seem like the most sensible strategy to adopt. But as the world continues to live in various stages of lockdown over the following weeks and months, companies must adapt to these new conditions or risk losing out.

This is especially true when it comes to recruitment. Some businesses, such as those in high demand sectors like health, social work and retail, will inevitably need to hire more people over the course of the pandemic. Others will potentially lose employees concerned about their medium to long term future with their current employer, leaving gaps that businesses need to fill with new hires.

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Interested in learning best-practice tips on recruitment during lockdown? Click here to check out our recent webinar with co-founder of hireful, Adrian McDonagh.

Hiring remotely as a response to lockdown

Lockdown has transformed the conditions under which we all work, and the same is true for recruitment. With employers and potential employees alike reluctant to engage in face to face meetings, many businesses are turning to hiring new candidates remotely.

But this new digital world presents its own problems. With varying degrees of digital literacy amongst hiring managers and prospective candidates, as well as unpredictable technology and internet speeds, some business owners and managers might be tempted to wait until recruitment processes can assume their more traditional form before making any hiring decisions. But recruitment doesn’t have to stop because of lockdown.

For employers who are unsure of best practice for remote recruitment, we’ve put together some guidance on how to set up - and make the most out of - hiring candidates remotely.

1. Choosing your technology

If you decide to carry out interviews remotely, it is important to choose the best platform for doing this.

Choose the technology that best suits your business

When deciding which platform to choose, it is worth considering various strengths and shortfalls: some providers only allow a maximum amount of time in video chat before they cut off, for instance, whilst others might require that people download an app, or create a new email account.

Once you have decided on a platform, stick to it

Using one platform when interviewing one candidate and another when interviewing another risks creating unnecessary confusion and time spent learning different software. Try to make the platform you use as equitable as possible - only people with iPhones can use Facetime, for example, and some candidates might be put off if they feel like they have to download apps or create email accounts.

Think about other technology you can use

Technology can also be used to help facilitate recruitment formalities such as signing forms and other documents - some software allows employers to create their own custom forms and allows these to be signed in a way that replicates the usual process of signing a document by hand.

Be aware of the risks!

As with any technology, be aware of security risks – for instance, recent headlines on the phenomenon known as ‘Zoombombing’ have highlighted the importance of using passwords for private Zoom meetings.

Testing and assessment software

Remote recruitment is a great time to make use of testing and assessment software. Giving prospective employees a test to perform before or in the intermediate stages of interviewing allows hiring managers to assess candidates more objectively, reducing the chance of unconscious bias unduly influencing your remote hiring decisions.

Software allows hiring managers to build their own bespoke tests and these can be completed and assessed remotely. Online assessments also reduce the chances of an employer missing out on a potentially great hire who might feel uncomfortable or stressed out by video interviews, leading to an underwhelming performance.

2. Communicating with candidates remotely

Communicating with prospective employees becomes even more important during lockdown. With an absence of physical meetings, candidates can easily become disenfranchised and feel as though a job is not worth their time if the employer is not taking the time to clearly communicate with them at every step of the recruitment process.

Prioritising communication at pivotal points of the recruitment process will help to engage and retain candidates, so it is important that hiring managers get it right.

Before the interview is due to take place

Before the interview is due to take place, hiring managers should communicate with candidates in order to inform them on how the interview will proceed, which platform you will be using if you decide to video interview, as well as any instructions on how to use the platform etc. This will help to set candidates at ease so that they can go into the interview without worrying about how it will unfold and whether they will have any issues with technology.

After testing and assessment

It is important to communicate with candidates after any testing and assessment is carried out in order to give them feedback on their performance. This helps to keep candidates engaged with the recruitment process and also gives the employer an opportunity to potentially eliminate underperforming candidates by explaining to these candidates the reasons for their decision not to continue with their application (i.e. poor test scores or failure to demonstrate the necessary skills during an assessment).

3. Before and just after a new hire starts

It is even more important during lockdown to communicate with new hires before they are due to start in order to ensure that they have all of the information they need. Once a new hire has started, make sure to keep communication open (perhaps through regular check-ins or team group chats), so that they feel welcome and supported in their new role.

Communication can take place through various channels (email, phone call, video chat), but we suggest using video chat for those occasions where a personal touch will help to make prospective employees feel more welcome, e.g. during onboarding meetings when the new employee will be ‘meeting’ their new colleagues. We also suggest looking into adopting HR software for onboarding new hires more easily and providing secure access to important company and individual documents; all the information you and your new employee needs will be in one place, which is especially useful while more people are working and collaborating remotely.

Using social media

Lockdown is the perfect time to headhunt for great employees on social media. Not only is the candidate pool increased by factors such as job precarity, furloughed workers, and increasing unemployment, but even those currently in employment are more likely to attend to a message on LinkedIn from a headhunter if they do not have their manager within view of their computer screen!

Related articles

Social media screening: should you screen candidates and monitor staff?

How an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) streamlines recruitment for SMEs

How employees can stay connected while working from home

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Written by Kate Taylor

Kate is a Content Marketing Executive for myhrtoolkit. She is interested in SaaS platforms, automation tools for making HR easier, and strategies for keeping employees engaged.

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