CEO Blog #4: The need to recruit but remote working proving too big a challenge?

If you work in HR, this is undoubtedly a very busy time for you. Dealing with the repercussions of the Coronavirus is likely to be a challenge unlike any other you have ever experienced.

The likelihood is you are dealing with exceptional circumstances and needing to make critical decisions quickly. The challenges of home working, agreeing changes in working conditions and potentially hours, the implications of furlough, continuing to recruit for business critical positions, ensuring employee wellbeing, the list of priorities you are likely trying to juggle right now is probably exhaustive!

And if you are needing to think about your current or future recruitment needs, this probably presents a whole new challenge for your HR team — how to recruit the right person for your business, when you are unable to meet or onboard them face-to-face.

Whilst many businesses have understandably put their recruitment processes on hold, many still continue to recruit Hiring Managers and HR departments making the difficult decision to switch to digital solutions to both interview and onboard new candidates.

If your business does need additional resources now, perhaps certain business functions are over-stretched or you are seeing and increase in demand, there are many ways that you can still conduct that process whilst ensuring the safety of everyone involved.

Some businesses have been recruiting remotely for years, even if it is just for part of the interview process. Very few are likely to have completed the on-boarding process remotely all the way through. This may seem daunting, perhaps impossible, and you may feel like it is a huge risk to recruit a candidate when you have never even met them.

It isn’t impossible though. Nor is it risky. Technology is so advanced now that it actually puts traditional recruitment processes to the test. You’ve probably never had to do it this way before, and you perhaps never wanted to. But actually remote recruiting could be more efficient and more effective in the long-run. And the technology out there to make remote recruiting, and working, is relatively easy to put into place. There are just a few things you may need to consider to ensure the process is efficient, that you are comfortable you have a good understanding of your candidates’ skillsets and that their on boarding process is as suitable for you as it is for your new starter.

Virtual interviewing

In normal times, video interviewing tools are a great way to save time and organise interviews that fit everyone’s busy schedules. Now more than ever, they are an essential tool for anybody who needs to recruit.

First and foremost, successful virtual interviewing is dependent on having the right technology in place. The great thing is that video interviewing tools are plentiful. There are a number that you can access for free too. Google Hangouts, Skype or even WhatsApp are great options if your budget won’t stretch to something more bespoke.

If you do require something that is more specifically tailored to business and recruitment process, Zoom is a great tool which is full of different add on features to make your interviewing process easier. And then there are tools which are specifically created for video interviewing. This article provides some great examples of software packages that you could look to invest in.

The key thing to remember - it's still important for you to make a good impression on the candidate, just as it is for them to make a good impression on you. Make sure you think about the setting you are in when conducting the interview - it should be quiet with a neutral background. Do trial runs first to check the technology works and make sure you dress as you would normally. It is important to give them the same impression of the company that they would get if they were meeting with you face-to-face.

Competency tasks and assessments

Depending on the role you are recruiting for, you may still require the candidates to complete tasks so that you can assess their competency and skill set.

Some of the tools above will have options for you to be able to request the candidate to deliver a presentation via screen sharing. But you could also consider asking them to complete a task relevant to their role as a discussion point that they could share with you prior to the interview.

There are, of course, plenty of online assessment tools as well that you could use. Psychometric testing, skills questionnaires and other profiling tools can be provided to the candidate prior to, or after the interview that they can either complete online, or email back to you. This will help you to ensure that the candidate has the right profile and skillset required for the role.

Virtual onboarding

The on-boarding process is the best way to ensure that your employees acclimatise to the organisation and ensure that they have the right level of training to do their job effectively. If a new starter begins their position with you remotely, that is obviously quite a difficult task. However, working remotely can be isolating and daunting, especially when new employees won’t have had a chance to experience your company’s culture. it is important that you find the best way to welcome them and give them a sense of what life will be like working for your organisation.

Ensure you are prepared for the employee’s start date like you would be in any other circumstance. Make sure your paper work and process documents are up to date and applicable for remote working. These can be emailed over to the employee before they start.

Use the same tools that you have brought in to conduct online interviews to conduct face to face meetings to introduce them to their teams and other key people within the organisation. This will help them to start developing working relationships and get a sense of your company culture.

You can also use these tools to set up their induction and any other training sessions that might be required. Make sure that managers and other members of the business are well trained on how these work and that they are using them on a regular basis to interact with their teams and keep in touch with their new starters.

Staying in touch

Finally, staying in touch with your new employee will be imperative to ensure that they feel looked after. Encourage teams to use virtual tools and digital engagement to keep in touch with new employees and ensure that they are as close to their teams on a daily basis as possible.

Instant messaging services such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are also a great way to ensure that teams have regular contact throughout their working day and can help to make remote communications more efficient.

As a HR professional, you more than likely have got a lot on your plate. You and your team are no doubt facing bigger challenges than you ever have before. But recruitment can still continue and you can still effectively onboard new starters and welcome them to your organisation. All thanks to the great technology that is out there. Who knows, you may find it works so well that you keep some of these processes in place to streamline your recruitment processes when your business goes back to normal.

If your HR function is struggling in these unprecedented times, earlier in this series of blogs we discussed the importance of leadership and how Non Executive Directors can help to support business who are having to make critical strategic decisions. Depending on your business’ situation, consideration of other ways that you can strengthen your team and ease the pressure on them could be a great way to make sure that you can bring your organisation, and your teams, through these difficult times.

For more information on how our HR team can support you now, and in the future, contact Emma Noble, Operations Director, on 07710 096 839 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also find out more on our dedicated Human Resources page.

Over the last few weeks, CEO Greg Parkinson has shared a series of blogs intended to provide businesses with some of our unique insight into the different challenges some industries are facing right now, and our advice on how these can be overcome. Visit our news page to see the latest blogs in the series.

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