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Tips from a Remote Recruiter on Virtually Onboarding & Retaining New Hires With Success

Carlos Acosta | 14.04.2021

Last year’s COVID-19 pandemic has left lasting changes in almost every aspect of our lives. As the threat is reduced due to ongoing vaccination programs, the future for hiring managers seeking key talent has become more optimistic.

It is clear that remote work arrangements are likely to stay for the long term with many businesses adjusting to a more flexible workforce. Shifts in the universe of talent acquisition continue towards recruitment processes being done virtually from the initial engagement on through transition and onboarding.

As said by Sylvia MacArthur, senior managing partner of The ExeQfind Group: “The pandemic has completely changed both hiring and work routines—requiring that both companies and candidates change their approach.”

The Challenges of Hiring and Onboarding Remotely

The challenge with virtual recruitment and onboarding is the reduced in-depth interaction with recruiter and hiring stakeholders that only face-to-face interviews can offer. This poses such challenges as:

  • How do you successfully onboard people that were hired virtually without ever meeting anyone in-person?
  • How do you effectively transfer corporate culture and build congeniality?
  • How do you manage these new virtual hires—who will also be working remotely—and have them be fully integrated into the company despite the geographic constraints?

Remote Talent Acquisition: Video Conferencing Effectively

The use of video conferencing and other modern technologies have been instrumental during the pandemic, and more so for recruiting remote candidates. However, the challenge for both recruiters and candidates is that on-screen interactions have their limitations.

Recruiters cannot build as much rapport nor get a full evaluation of the candidate solely on video and phone calls. On the other hand, candidates are finding it more difficult to demonstrate their soft skills when the interaction is limited to video and calls.

This doesn’t mean there’s no hope. To the contrary. Hiring managers are finding hiring successes from remote work locations and through purely virtual hiring processes. You just have to be smart about it and leverage every resource at your disposal. For example, here are some things recruiters are doing to make the most of talent acquisition via teleconferencing:

  • Come prepared but be flexible: In the era of virtual hiring, it’s pertinent for hiring managers to become better prepared prior to starting video interviews. Have a list of interview questions to ask based on the job requirements, but don’t be so rigid as to not make room for follow up questions. Following up the candidate’s responses with additional questions creates additional opportunity for both discovery and engagement.
  • Video conferencing/calls over emails: When limited to working remotely, it should be understood that video conferencing allows for more social interaction than emails. Reserve your email communication for sending information or documents that can be reviewed later. Whenever possible, use video conferencing or phone calls for interviewing and evaluating candidates for their job fit (both for their hard and soft skills).

Transferring Corporate Culture and Building Rapport Remotely

A crucial stage in onboarding new hires is transferring corporate culture. Done remotely, this can be challenging but not without solutions:

  • The need for more effective candidate engagement: The advent of virtual recruitment and hiring will demand greater effectiveness from those on the front lines of engaging with desired talent. Recruiters that lack the ability to establish rapport and gain credibility with candidates will be lost in this new shift. A proper balance must be struck with targeting the right talent, assessing for fit, representing the employer brand and maintaining engagement through offer acceptance. Those recruiters lacking experience will face challenges that could be detrimental to the interests of hiring managers.
  • Start during the interview/evaluation process: Assessing for culture fit during the first stages of the hiring process is essential. New hires that fit company culture will have an easier time adopting to company culture during the onboarding process. Perhaps pre-employment tests should be a key part of the process as well as specific / targeted interview questions to assess cultural fit.
  • Continuous and more open communication: To ensure more open communication and candidate engagement, hiring managers must take the extra mile to spend more time briefing candidates about the company’s culture and position expectations. Every candidate conversation provides opportunity for both parties to get to know each other better and build better rapport.
  • Get creative in your approach: Have as many informal virtual touchpoints when you can during the hiring and onboarding stages. This can help you keep a close pulse on the candidate’s needs and clarify any questions early in the process. Get creative in your approach when evaluating candidates virtually; be candid if needed. Informal connections make candidates feel more open and at ease, and will help you better gauge their personality, style, thoughts, and more.

Retaining Virtual Hires for the Long-Term

Another question that one may pose for virtual hires is whether they are at a higher risk for retention. One could surmise that their virtual integration into the company makes them less attached than those who were hired in-person. While one cannot assume this unilaterally, it certainly begs attention.

There is no guarantee of retaining any new hire over the long-term, however there are steps that you can take at the beginning of the recruitment stage to ensure that both the hiring manager and the candidate are able to make an informed decision:

  • Ensure transparency and clarity in the hiring process: This is all the more crucial when hiring virtually because of the many communication and evaluation challenges we discussed earlier. Recruiters need to engage all of their emotional intelligence in ensuring candidate’s are properly motivated and engaged in direct correlation to what the organization needs from them if hired. Recruiters and hiring managers must establish clear criteria as to what they are looking for in a candidate. They need to communicate these requirements clearly to the candidate and test for elements like sincerity, engagement, fit, runway development and motivation.
  • Shepherding the candidate: As mentioned, it is important to maintain more frequent communication with candidates throughout the hiring and onboarding process. With virtual hiring, it’s a matter of shepherding candidates more closely to serve as an effective bridge over the communication, rapport and geographical gap.

Virtual Hiring in a Culturally Diverse World

The upside of virtual hiring is that geographical constraints are no longer a roadblock for acquiring new candidates—your options are much more diverse.

But this same diversity can also be a huge challenge, especially if you are not familiar with cultural nuances. It is thus best to have at least a basic awareness of a candidate and client’s cultural background so that you can adapt your recruitment approach.

The QualiFind Group has a long record of recruiting for both domestic and multinational organizations. We have been exposed to virtually every conceivable dynamic and challenge and have successfully supported our clients in overcoming them. That is one of the reasons we ensure that the hiring process is tailored for our client’s specific needs, taking into consideration their unique work and organizational culture and the cultural fluency needed from their respective candidates.

Successful Virtual Hiring with Professional Recruitment Specialists

As we embrace the new normal, recruitment practices need to evolve as well. With vaccinations in place and restrictions opening up, we have resumed travel to both client sites as well as meeting with candidates as needed. While there’s more value to old-fashioned face-to-face interviews, taking a hybrid approach in talent acquisition may prove to be more suitable as we move towards the future—that is, integrating remote hiring practices as a complement to traditional recruitment.

The QualiFind Group is a great resource for you if you’re looking to hire the right functional or technical manager for your company. We offer professional and technical headhunting and recruitment services backed with 22+ years of successful experience. Our services range from one-off direct hire recruitment to more complex Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) or project recruitment to support start-ups, turnarounds or business expansions.

Visit https://www.qualifindgroup.com/en/contact/ to get in touch with us!

Carlos Acosta is the senior managing partner of The QualiFind Group. Carlos has extensive experience supporting recruiting needs in the agriculture-food value chain, e-commerce / order fulfillment and the industrial-manufacturing sector. Carlos can be reached at 619-240-2638 or via email at: cacosta@qualifindgroup.com