Traditionally, interviews have been conducted in-person and they are a key step in the recruitment process, allowing employers to assess a candidate’s suitability for the role. When the topic of interviews is brought up, we can imagine a classic scene of a jittery candidate stuttering before a panel of grumpy interviewers, in the setting of a pristine office. In our minds, the concept of an interview has long been tied to the office setting but now, technology has enabled us to shift the recruitment process online, creating the possibility of virtual hiring!
To elaborate, virtual hiring refers to a process whereby the recruitment procedures such as interviews and screening tests are transited online, removing the need for face-to-face meetings. This is achieved with the help of digital tools such as teleconferencing platforms and automated tests. While some employers have fully adopted virtual recruitment, some have instead opted for a hybrid model — with a physical interview preceded by online screening tests. Nevertheless, the concept of virtual hiring has been growing in popularity amongst employers, with the many benefits that it entails.
For starters, virtual hiring has empowered us with an avenue to assess candidates without having to meet them in person. This was a growing area of need, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated reduced socialisation. Zoom interviews and its likes have ensured the continuity of the recruitment process even during difficult times. Post-pandemic, virtual hiring can still be a handy tool in the absence of a suitable physical location to conduct the interview.
What’s more, virtual hiring has the added bonus of being time-saving. You can leverage recruitment technologies such as one-way interviews and screening tests to save the time spent on assessing a single candidate. More interviews can also be packed in a day, around your schedule, introducing flexibility to the process. Furthermore, candidates stand to save their traveling time to and fro the interview location, bringing about benefits for both parties!
In addition, in the long run, you may find that virtual hiring is more cost-efficient! With a well-designed virtual hiring process, manual processes can be automated, saving time and costs. And of course, the time saved could translate to greater productivity for the organisation.
That said, virtual hiring has its limitations, with the most pertinent being the inability to gauge a culture fit for the organisation. This could have long-lasting effects, and even lead to erosion of the organisational culture. Hence, here are some tips for you to design a well-planned virtual hiring process while avoiding the possible pitfalls:
Comply With The Regulations
Before even embarking on this journey of virtual hiring, one thing to keep in mind would be the legal considerations for recruitment. In Singapore, employers are to abide by the guidelines of the fair employment practices and ensure that the hiring process is void of any discrimination. In particular, there should not be any exclusion of candidates at any stage of the recruitment on the basis of attributes such as age, gender, religion and more. These are considerations that apply to the traditional recruitment process as well, except that it could be even more stringent for virtual hiring, taking into consideration how online procedures could be recorded and stored as evidence for legal suits.
Hence, to avoid these complications, scrutinise the guidelines and design your virtual recruitment to ensure that it is bias-free. For instance, you could train the managers to be objective and focus on the skills and expertise of a candidate rather than their particulars. Alternatively, ‘blind hiring’ could be an option to tackle partiality in the recruitment.
By complying with these regulations, the organisation stands to benefit as well! With a bias-free recruitment, it allows the organisation to hire employees from different backgrounds and varying expertise, providing them insights on catering to the different profiles of consumers. In addition, it creates a vibrant organisational culture, injecting fun in the organisation.
Design The Process
The next step would be to decide on the design of the virtual hiring process. Decide on the information you require from the candidates and find the best method to assess them on the online platform. If you are at a loss, you can start by exploring the slew of new technologies available to enhance online recruitment. Some of the more popular ones include:
a. Automated Chatbots
Applying for a job online can be daunting and confusing for jobseekers in the absence of the appropriate prompts and assistance. Hence, the organisation can opt to include an automated chatbot on their website to answer any queries pertaining to recruitment and direct jobseekers to the appropriate links in the application, providing clarity to the process. What’s more, you can program the chatbot to update the candidates of their application status and schedule interviews, saving the manual effort of administration and streamlining the process
b. One-way Interviews
If you already have a fixed set of questions for the candidates, you can choose to implement one-way interviews. Approach the relevant experts and set up the interface. Program the questions into the system and allow technology to do the work! The interviews will be automated and recorded for you to view at your own time. It serves as a pre-screening test and saves the time needed to conduct the interviews.
c. Teleconferencing Tools
Alternatively, you could choose to be straightforward and just adopt the approach of an online interview. Take your pick among the different platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts or even Skype and install the relevant applications. Dedicate time to trial the platforms and be familiar with them so you can troubleshoot any issues that might crop up during the interview. In addition, send the details of the virtual interview to the candidates in advance so they have time to try the platform and feedback any issues faced.
One of the considerations in conducting an online interview would be the background of the interviewer on the screen. While virtual backgrounds are in trend now with all the weird and fun pictures, avoid that as your background should convey professionalism to the interviewee. The choice of a background is pivotal; on one hand, it could enhance the credibility of your organisation and on the other, a childish background could cast doubt on the legitimacy of the organisation. Hence, even if you are not in the office, aim to find a clean background with little distraction. Otherwise, if you prefer a virtual background, you could design a simple background with the company logo embedded, exuding professionalism. Not to forget, in an online interview, ensure that you have a good Internet connection so that you will not be cut off in the middle of the conversation and prepare the relevant equipment such as earphones if needed.
Simulate The Experience
Previously, it was mentioned that a possible shortcoming of virtual recruitment was the challenge in determining whether the candidate would be a good fit for the organisation’s culture. This can be attributed to the inability to meet the candidates in-person and having a gauge of their personalities and work attitudes. To counter this, we can inject the virtual interview with more questions aimed at understanding the candidate and giving an introduction of the culture at the organisation, allowing the candidate to gauge whether they are a good fit.
To spice it up, we can leverage technologies such as VR (Virtual Reality) to simulate the experience of an employee at the organisation. It can kick off with the mandatory office tour, followed by the introduction of the employees and a showcase of any unique points about the organisation, such as ‘Dress-down Friday’ and more! This would allow the candidate to have a better understanding of the organisation and its culture even in the absence of a physical introduction. With this, they can make an informed decision about joining the organisation and decide whether the culture is one they are inclined towards, preventing a mismatch in values.
Last but not least, one of the most important things to note is to be accountable towards the candidates! Each and every of the candidates made the effort to apply for the job and we should not leave them hanging. Institute a rigorous screening process, which could be supported by the digital tools aforementioned and keep candidates apprised of their application status in a timely manner.
In this period of uncertainty, it is also inevitable that the candidates may have several concerns regarding working arrangements and possible changes to the role. To tackle this, one option would be to utilize automated chatbots aforementioned. While this is efficient, try to also have a clear channel for candidates to send their enquiries in the scenario that the chatbot is not equipped to answer the questions. Regarding rejections, even if you are not moving forward with the application, express your appreciation for the candidate’s time through an email or any other methods deemed suitable.
In short, virtual recruitment can be a great value-add to your organisation, resulting in cost-efficiencies and enhanced productivity as long as you have a well-designed process. So, follow these tips and kickstart virtual hiring for your organisation today!