How to Make Smart Hires in the Age of Remote Work

Like everything else, the recruitment process has gone virtual, which means it’s often more difficult for hiring managers to gauge a candidate’s fit. Here are a few ways they can adapt.

Work has changed dramatically in the past year—and so has the hiring process. Phone screener interviews and in-person sessions have given way to video meetings, and that has changed the way human resources professionals and hiring managers consider candidates.

Suddenly, different skills are more important, such as an individual’s screen presence and his or her ability to work through technical issues on the fly. So what traits should hiring managers prioritize, and how can they get the most out of an interview to ensure they’re picking the right candidate?

Consider these tactics as you hire new staffers in a remote workplace.

Refocus Your Interview

You’ve probably always asked candidates behavioral questions about previous work experience, such as, “Tell me about a time when you performed well under pressure. What happened?” Now, put an emphasis on skills that are important in a remote setting.

Performance leadership coach Ashira Prossack identified some of these remote skills, including the ability to communicate clearly in writing, collaborate with project management tools, focus even in a distracting environment, manage time when coworkers can’t hold you accountable, and adapt to new situations. And since managers can’t monitor employees as easily as they could in the office, it’s also worth asking candidates about their ability to self-motivate and organize. Zeroing in on these skills will help you determine whether a candidate can thrive in a remote setting.

Questions might include “How do you manage your time when working remotely?” and “How would you communicate and collaborate with a remote team?”

Opt for a Video Interview

An in-person interview helps a hiring manager assess some important traits, such as whether someone is personable, a good communicator, and poised under pressure. And while a video interview can’t truly replace an in-person discussion, it’s easier to evaluate a candidate for these characteristics on a video call than on the phone, given the importance of body language and nonverbal communication.

Emphasize Skill-Based Hiring

Don’t just ask about remote-specific skills in the job interview. Make them a requirement in the job description as well. Consider using a skill-based hiring strategy—rather than one that prioritizes specific educational credentials—to find candidates who will thrive in a remote environment. Studies have shown that organizations often overemphasize degrees in hiring, shrinking the pool of candidates and potentially excluding qualified ones.

In the age of remote work—in which certain hard technical skills are essential—it might benefit organizations to focus more on tangible, remote-specific skills and relevant remote work experience. In addition to Prossack’s set of remote skills, look for candidates who:

  • have experience with online collaboration tools and videoconferencing software
  • have experience with file-sharing platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive
  • know how to use messaging platforms such as Slack
  • perform well within a structured workflow that emphasizes documentation
  • have worked remotely before

It can be difficult for organizations to verify that a candidate has certain remote-specific skills with just a resume and a video interview. To better evaluate a candidate for a remote position, offer pre-employment skills tests to identify who possesses the right qualities for the job. For example, the talent assessment company eSkill offers basic computer skills tests, which helps determine a candidate’s general digital literacy.

Expand Your Horizons

While some criteria have newfound importance, one factor isn’t as vital: a candidate’s location. The all-remote company GitLab has taken advantage of this by hiring talent from a global pool of candidates.

Removing geography as a hiring criterion opens your organization to candidates who might be the perfect fit for the job but don’t live in your immediate area.

(insta_photos/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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