It’s not you, it’s me. The challenge of virtual recruiting (and tips from someone doing it right)

‘It’s not you, it’s me’… or, actually, is it me?

Virtual recruiting is yet another challenge business leaders have faced during the pandemic. Whilst digital delivery has been the prepotent media headline of choice, hiring and onboarding talent remotely has been equally disrupted by the past year’s events. Figures from analyst firm Gartner show 86 per cent of businesses have been conducting virtual interviews during the pandemic, and 85 per cent are using new technology to onboard employees.

So, what if things don’t work out? Is it you? Is it them? Or is it the process?

As with many of my articles, this post was sparked following a real conversation with a client. Their concern? A virtual hire wasn’t working out. It’s a micro example that I felt might resonate on a macro level, so here goes.

I’ve spoken before about the huge opportunities there are for companies now geography isn’t a sticking point.  Traditionally, it was critical to be where the party was. Pre 2020, the hiring process and thereafter the subsequent 9-5 would be face-to-face, the culture would be evident and slowly (but surely) engrained and the teams would work closely, physically together.

Technology has made it possible, easy even, to recruit remotely. Hiring companies have rewritten their rules of engagement, apps for remote hiring are readily available.  What is yet to be seen is how successful these hires will be – it’s the ultimate test of how important body language, and non-verbal cues really are. It’s potentially the undoing of every ‘office culture is the most important’ blog. What’s clear, even from one conversation that will most likely be happening elsewhere too, is that business leaders need to adapt their recruitment processes.

Then I spotted this on LinkedIn…

Never one to let a decent learning opportunity pass me by, I politely begged Mike Ellis, Company Director at 43 Clicks North, to share his tips for successfully recruiting whilst working remotely. Here’s what he had to say:

How many hires have 43clicks made during lockdown?

So far, we’ve made 10 new hires during lockdown…but it’s not over yet 😉

Have you found it easier or trickier to find talent?

We know we have been exceptionally lucky with our staff recruitment. Every time we’ve gone out to market we have had some really standout applicants, other times we have had internal staff refer other applicants. I take that as a huge compliment, when an existing staff member refers us to either an ex-colleague or friend, that’s them putting their faith in you as a company and that goes a really long way. 

What is the process for your remote recruitment (pre-screening? Testing? More or less time spent with candidates (on video) than you would if recruiting face-to-face?)

To be honest we haven’t changed it. We still do an initial chemistry call to see if they match with our company values. If they pass this the second round is about testing their ability to do the role they are applying for. I’m a big believer in matching values and attitude before skills. Skills can be taught, attitudes can’t.

How do you go about embedding the 43clicks culture when you’re not all working together?

This has been hard, but I think it comes down to how we operate when we are not in lockdown. We rely on accountability. everyone understands their role and what they have to do. As long as they do that, they are free to choose where they work and when they work. Some of the team start work early and finish early, others start late and finish late. As long as they fulfil their commitments (such as deadlines, client calls etc.) they can do that in any way which suits them. This has been a godsend for the team members with children recently.

How do you go about making sure the new team member is fully integrated and feels supported whilst working from home?

We have an on-boarding process that is ever changing. I’m still not entirely happy with it after all this time and I don’t think I ever will be. I want everyone off to the best possible start. What we do at the moment is make sure the new member gets an induction into each area of the company. This gets them talking to other people quickly and breaks down those barriers. We’re still small enough that by the time you have done that you have basically met everyone. Alongside this we make sure they sit down with me on their first day to talk about the company, where it came from and where it’s going. In this I am brutally honest, I don’t mind telling new starters where we have gone wrong and the mistakes we made as well as all the good things going on. This I feel gets them bought into what we are trying to build and the culture we strive for from day one.

Any tips for other businesses?

Ultimately your hiring people not robots, treat them as such. They have their aspirations and goals if you can find the ones whose align with your own, you’re onto a winner.

A really honest and useful insight.

Huge thanks to Mike for sharing his experience, I’m also a ‘hire for attitude’ guy.

I would love to hear how, if at all, your hiring processes have adapted. Do you agree or disagree with any of the above? Have you struggled with remote recruiting?

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