Amid the uncertainly of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is encouraging and inspiring to see people find innovative ways of coming together. Workers everywhere are turning spare bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens into part-time home offices. While a temporary period of remote collaboration can be a fairly seamless transition for a well-established group of professionals, what happens when it comes time to bring a new member on to the team?
An in-person interview has long been a non-negotiable staple of a successful hiring process, and many leaders may be choosing to push off hiring for a lack of ability to shake a candidate’s hand.
Chances are, your company has been in situations in the past where it has needed to pivot to a new way of doing things in order to keep up with the changing times. Your ability to continue filling key roles in your company can make a huge difference in your ability to deliver great service to your customers. Even in an economic downturn, there are mission-critical positions that cost companies money every day they stand vacant. Here’s how to feel confident about a successful hire, even in the time of social distancing:
1. Have interviewees virtually meet as many people as possible.
We all know that the way in which a candidate interacts with your office staff before and after the interview says a lot about that candidate’s personality and their level of professionalism. You can simulate those interactions in a virtual setting by having a receptionist or administrative assistant help you with a video call.
Ask your employee to join the virtual meeting five minutes before it is set to start. That way he or she can help the candidate with any technical issues they may have and send you a message once everything is ready so that you can optimize the use of your time.
This serves the same technical function as an in-person greeting, and you can ask your team member later how his or her first impression was.
2. Get in the Zone
We all know being at a computer screen is full of distractions: email notifications, chats from coworkers, and of course our ever-present, unpredictable children and pets crashing the meeting uninvited. Do yourself and your candidate the favor of giving each interview as much of your undivided attention as you possibly can, just like you would in person. Put other devices away and let your family know that you will be on a call and need it quiet. You’ll get more out of the meeting if you are all in on it.
3. Use Restrictions as a Test of Adaptive Problem-Solving Skills
A hallmark of a good job applicant is one who arrives to an in-person interview on time and prepared with hard copies of their resume, a notebook and pen, and any other materials that would be helpful.
Similarly, an all-star video interviewer will be on time, dressed professionally, and with a clean and presentable backdrop for the call. They will have practiced with the video conferencing platform ahead of time and be able to smoothly screen share any presentations you have asked them to make to your team. Of course, technical difficulties do arise, just like traffic jams and other impediments to in person meetings will come up. How a candidate prepares for and handles these situations is a great preview of how they will handle challenges that come up in their work for you.
4. Have a “culture fit” interview
Culture fit is a huge part of whether an employee will receive and accept a job offer. That’s not to say that everyone should be exactly the same; an effective team can and should include members with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. But they need to communicate well and complement each other’s strengths.
If a not-so-formal peer interview, lunch, or office tour has historically been a part of your hiring process, then consider ways in which you could make this experience virtual. Friends and families all over the world are taking to their video conferencing platforms of choice for virtual cocktail parties, game nights, and more. You might schedule 30-60 minutes for your top candidate to meet with the people with whom they will work the most closely, even if these people have interviewed them before. Get creative and have fun with this part!
5. Check references carefully and thoroughly
Without being able to look someone straight in the eye and shake their hand, it’s more important than ever to find out their strengths and weaknesses as perceived by people who have worked with them in the past.
At The Renaissance Network (TRN), we recommend an anonymous reference check, which encourages references to be more honest and open, especially as it pertains to areas of improvement. We also recommend putting this reference check in place prior to the final interview so that any potential red flags can be addressed in this conversation. This also saves time when an offer is on the table; the reference check does not need to be initiated from scratch so near the end of a successful search process.
Click here to learn more about TRN’s anonymous 360° reference survey and how it can help you hire the right person for your team.
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