Remote telecommuting has come to the liking of many companies, but hiring employees from home different from hiring in an office. Here’s how to effectively conduct interviews at Zoom and work with people I’ve never met personally.
Pros and cons of hiring remotely
Logomashina is just one of those companies that still work from home: since March 2020, we have asked employees three times if they want to return to the office, and each time we have received a categorical refusal from everyone.
Like other studios, we periodically need new personnel: and if earlier interviews were necessarily held in person, now everything is centered around Zoom. The advantages and disadvantages of online hiring are, in my opinion, equal in number.
First, about the pros.
You no longer have geographic restrictions
Thanks to the distance, it doesn’t matter where the employee lives, and this factor multiplies the number of suitable candidates by several times. If earlier we were constantly faced with the fact that we cannot take a designer with a cool portfolio just because he does not live in St. Petersburg, now he can be anywhere and still work for us. In addition, the lack of a territorial framework allowed us to increase the average level of employees: now it is possible to hire outstanding specialists who were previously unavailable because of their residence in another region.
Jobs close faster
The speed of closing a position is often a critical factor, and when working in an office, HR managers usually cannot interview a large number of people in a day: there are many reasons for this – from a limited number of negotiations to the fact that candidates like to be late.
Online interviews turned out to be a successful practice for us in terms of optimizing time costs: as a rule, they are 30-40% faster than office interviews (time-stealing formalities like coffee breaks and small-talks have disappeared), and therefore more of them can be carried out.
Now about the cons of online hiring: without them, too, nowhere.
It is difficult to assess the soft skills of the candidate
No matter how good the video communication is, you will still not be able to fully form the impression of soft-skills through the screen – the candidate’s ability to communicate, think flexibly and avoid conflicts.
If you can feel empathy almost immediately when communicating “face to face”, then by hiring an employee remotely, you keep the risks that his communicative qualities will not be pumped to the extent that is required.
It is not clear how to adapt the employee in the team
For every person, changing jobs is always stressful: you need to meet dozens of new people, master the existing rules and traditions, and adjust the usual work rituals.
If in the office a new employee could at any time address his colleagues sitting to his right and left, then at a distance he can only write to them in a corporate messenger.
The new work format is forcing HR managers to develop new integration programs, and so far, replacing Friday parties with online team building is not at all the same thing.
Successful online onboarding practices
Welcome course for beginners: we recorded video instructions so that a new colleague could deal with all the services that the team uses remotely, and also figured out the details of the workflow – who to interact with on a particular issue, what is the procedure for approving documents, what kind of planning meetings are usually in a week.
Increased one-to-one (meeting of a manager and a subordinate) during the first half of the year: the heads of the department and the managing director discuss with the new employee at least once a week how his adaptation process is going in the company. This practice makes it possible not to hush up problems, but to quickly solve them.
What questions to ask those whom you cannot see personally
Over a year and a half of remote work, more than 50 new employees came to us who have never seen me in person. During the pandemic, we added several new ones to the traditional pool of initial interview questions, which allow us to better understand online how the candidate thinks and whether he is ready to work without an office.
Question 1. If we gave you the opportunity to work not only at home, but also in the office, what would you prefer and why?
Remote work seems to many to be paradise only for the first few months, and then a number of difficulties emerge: the need to equip the workplace, the desire to change the picture in front of your eyes during the day, the need to communicate with others and further down the list.
If you work without an office, then ideally find the candidate’s real motivation to work at home: for example, he hates crowds in the metro and traffic jams, or he has a kitten that needs constant supervision. If a person is an extrovert to the marrow of his bones, who in his previous job went to the office primarily for the sake of communicating with colleagues, then working remotely in a couple of months will turn into hell for him, and he will most likely leave the company.
Question 2. What time are you ready to start your working day?
Remote work allows you to hire employees from other regions and even countries, but it is important to check with people if they are ready to work in your time zone. This issue is especially important if the new employee has to regularly communicate with clients and contractors.
Now we have two designers who live in European countries, and whose time zone is two hours behind Moscow. A small difference, as experience has shown, does not turn out to be a problem: it turns out that the working day for the guys starts at eight in the morning, which is quite acceptable (not six, after all), but ends at five in the evening – a lot of work is done according to the 8-17 schedule companies all over the world, so both employees and us were not embarrassed by the difference with the head office in employment.
Question 3. What are your concerns when working online?
This is a mandatory question if the candidate previously worked only in an office. It often turns out that a person is worried about his technical savvy: he never conducted work communication in Telegram chats and did not use half of the online services. In such cases, it is necessary to draw up a list of fears in advance and send an HR specialist to help the new employee.
We once pooled the most common concerns that newbies hear and came up with solutions for them. For example, we recorded video instructions on how to work with services (I already mentioned them earlier) and once a week we arrange educational lectures on design for non-designers – new managers and marketers, so that they can quickly immerse themselves in the sphere.
How to measure the performance of a newly hired telecommuter
If in the office you see what the new employee is doing in the workplace and how often he goes on smoke breaks, then remote work greatly limits these opportunities.
We have given up monitoring the activity of employees and monitoring work screens, so now we have three criteria for assessing the effectiveness of new people – completing tasks on time, the quality of these tasks and the employee’s satisfaction with their results.
If everything is clear with the first two criteria, then we did not begin to control the morale of the new arrivals at once.
Nevertheless, during the adaptation period, it is important that the employee is satisfied with the way he is being integrated into work processes: for this, HR managers, together with department heads, need to regularly hold both one-to-one meetings and arrange assessments of 180 and 360 degrees. This will give an understanding of how the employee understands the tasks, whether there is enough time for their high-quality performance and whether he feels the meaning from everything he does.