Providing a Great Candidate Experience When Everyone’s Working Remotely

By Victoria Robertson on April 24, 2020

As unemployment rates skyrocket and confusion surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to circulate, stability becomes increasingly rare for corporations and candidates alike.

Job seekers going through the interview and application process remotely can find the experience intimidating as a whole, adding additional stress to an already stressful situation.

As a potential employer, it’s essential that you provide a great candidate experience, even with your workforce working remotely.

To assist you in ensuring your interview and application process is clear-cut and stress-free for your candidates, here are ten tips for providing a great candidate experience when everyone’s working remotely.

Photo Via: Pixabay.com

1. Provide Clear Timeline Information

As previously stated, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding employment in this day and age. As such, many candidates going through the application process have questions related to job timelines, such as when they would be able to start, if selected, whether or not they would be a remote employee, etc.

As an employer, you should always be providing timeline information to your candidates upfront. After the initial outreach asking a candidate for an interview, you should follow up with information regarding what the position is going to look like from a timeline perspective.

This means that you should be letting the candidate know how long you plan to be interviewing, when you hope to make a decision by, at which point you would like an individual to start, and whether or not this position will be entirely remote, in-house or remote for a short period of time.

Employers should not assume that candidates understand all of this information when applying for a position, so it not only needs to be listed on the job application, but should also be reiterated when reaching out to candidates for an interview and again during the interview. Should the candidate be offered a position, this information should also be outlined at that point.

2. Ensure Technology is Understood

More often than not, we assume that individuals are familiar with certain technologies, such as Zoom conferencing. While many organizations are relying on Zoom to stay connected with their remote workforce, this is not the case everywhere, so to assume a candidate is familiar with or has access to the program is a mistake.

When scheduling interviews, whether they be phone interviews or video interviews, you should always check with the candidate to see which technologies they are familiar with and/or have access to.

Many individuals seeking employment don’t have access to certain applications, and it’s, therefore, essential that you determine whether or not that’s the case before scheduling an interview with a potential candidate. In addition to access, you’ll also want to ensure a candidate is familiar with the technology you plan to utilize in order to provide them with a fair shot at participating in an effective interview.

We are all new to this means of communication, for the most part, so providing a bit of slack in this regard will serve you well when it comes to determining which candidate is best for the position you are hiring for.

3. Send All Necessary Documentation in Advance

In most in-person interviews, any additional information about a position, such as the job description or other supplemental resources, is provided to the candidate interviewing for the position.

Because you are unable to provide the candidate with hard copy information during the interview when conducting it remotely, make sure you send any and all pertinent information well in advance of the interview to give the candidate enough time to prepare.

Some organizations do require presentations for their interview, and those resources should always be supplied well in advance so the candidate can not only review and then create the presentation but so that they can also practice giving the presentation on the technology you have both agreed upon.

4. Ask for Resume and Samples in Advance

In addition, you may require additional information from the candidate, prior to the interview. Most candidates will bring in copies of their resume for all interviewers, but in an online interview, this isn’t possible.

By asking for additional resources prior to the interview, you give the candidate enough time to supply you with their resume and any samples of their work that you can then pass along to anyone conducting the interview with you, so everyone is well prepared for the upcoming interview.

5. Keep Things Light and Conversational

When bringing an individual in for an in-person interview, you are able to show them your office and make them feel at home, simply by providing human contact, interaction and a warm and welcoming environment.

Technology, conversely, can feel rather impersonal, which can turn off a potential candidate. For this reason, you should ensure you are going above and beyond to keep things both light and conversational in the interview, ensuring you are exuding that warmth that would typically be covered by your office.

Remember that this individual will have never seen your office, and therefore don’t truly have a feel for where they would be working. It’s your job to give them that overview and ensure they feel welcomed, even without having been there.

Photo Via: Pixabay.com

6. Set Aside Enough Time for Questions

During a typical interview, interviewers may set aside a few minutes at the end of the interview to answer any questions the candidate may have. In most circumstances, this equates to a total number of questions under 5.

However, given the turmoil many countries are in, it’s understandable that candidates may have many more questions than that. While you don’t have to spend hours answering all of their questions, you should allow additional time to ensure you’re able to cover their more pressing questions.

For instance, an individual may have health and safety questions related to how your organization is handling the current pandemic. Or perhaps they have questions about what your company’s long term plans are as they relate to the crisis.

Individuals are looking for stability, so they will likely be seeking these answers from potential employers. You should not only be prepared to answer these questions to the best of your ability, but you should also allow plenty of time to ease your candidate’s mind and ensure all of their pressing questions are answered.

7. Set Up Virtual Onboarding

Once you have selected a candidate for the position you are offering, you will need to onboard that individual, likely in a way that you have never onboarded employees before.

Many organizations will overlook this step until it comes time to onboard a candidate, at which point your process may look like a mess and become even more overwhelming for HR and the candidate you are looking to bring onto the team.

For this reason, you and your HR leaders should discuss an onboarding process that’s seamless, easy and understandable. For some, this will require additional technologies not previously utilized, and for others, this will mean minor adjustments to an already established onboarding process.

Whatever the process, you will also want to ensure that the onboarding process is inclusive of warm sentiments, as you’re essentially bringing in an employee that you’ve never met in person and that has never seen the organization in person, which can, as a result, feel very impersonal and therefore overwhelming.

Basically, the more thought and care you put into your onboarding process, the more likely you are to retain that employee, through the remote work order and beyond.

8. Provide Cultural Overview

Another pressing point when considering a great candidate experience is your corporate culture. Many organizations pride themselves on their outstanding corporate culture, but when your entire workforce is remote, this is more difficult to showcase and truly measure.

For this reason, you’ll need to seek additional methods through which you can provide a positive work culture, despite having an entirely remote workforce.

For some organizations, this means implementing online platforms through which employees can post and share stories, or perhaps even the implementation of virtual happy hours.

In addition, you’ll want your new employees to fully understand your corporate culture, even if they aren’t able to be immediately immersed in it.

Ensure you provide your candidates with an overview of what your culture looked like prior to your remote workforce, and then you should also ensure your candidates have an understanding of how they can get involved and interact with their fellow employees while working remotely.

This may mean redefining your corporate culture prior to bringing on additional employees, ensuring that your current workforce also understands and adheres to your corporate culture.

Infographic Via Canva

9. Provide Proper Training

As with any new position, providing your candidates with the training they need to be successful is important, though perhaps even more so when working remotely.

Most employees begin a new position and wait for instruction from their employer, as they aren’t able to take on new tasks without first fully understanding what their responsibilities are.

For this reason, you should be paying a lot of attention to the training process for new, remote employees.

In onboarding in general, you’ll need to supply remote workers with the equipment needed to do their job and to ensure all technologies required are also included in this setup. You should also plan for delays in getting these individuals equipment to use due to shipping constraints in many areas, so it may be in your best interest to send everything ahead of time.

There is likely going to be a large learning curve when it comes to getting everything set up and running, so patience is key here.

That all being said, once everything is up and running, you should ensure you hit the ground running with training to bring them up to speed in full, giving them the best chance at success without the additional support of in-person training.

Whether you conduct training through video conferences are provide video tutorials, you should always provide ample opportunity for your candidates to ask questions and seek help when they need it.

10. Provide All Candidates with Feedback

Last, but not least, you’ll want to provide candidates, both those you have selected for the position and those that you are going to pass on, with plenty of feedback to help them be successful.

For candidates you are bringing on board, you’ll want to clearly dictate what your expectations are which qualities of theirs you feel are the best fit for this position, as this is going to help them truly understand what the job will require of them.

For an individual that you are passing on, you should always provide them with clear feedback regarding why you are seeking other candidates at this time. We are all working together to get through these difficult times, so providing candid feedback to employees you are rejecting will help them in their future job interviews.

Whether that feedback is related to the interview itself, the candidate’s resume or simply the candidate’s personality and/or work ethic not being a fit, that candid feedback can help make or break the individual’s next interview.

Whenever possible, ensure you are providing this feedback, as it is far more supportive than many employers believe.

Applying for a job is oftentimes overwhelming and stressful, but in today’s circumstances, those emotions are amplified tenfold. The panic surrounding employment is only escalating with time, which puts pressure on employers to do better in terms of interviewing and providing candid, up-front feedback to prospective candidates.

Putting your candidates at ease in such times of uncertainty can seem daunting, but with the above ten tips, it’s a breeze.

Just remember that the remote culture is new to most employees and employers alike, and there will be a strong learning curve when it comes to becoming accustomed to new technologies and the proper etiquette for interviewing remotely.

So long as you ensure you are clear, provide all relevant information upfront and do your best to provide a positive experience for your potential candidates, you’ll be just fine.

By Victoria Robertson

Uloop Writer
University of Illinois
Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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