How to remotely hire high performers

So, you’ve made it through 2020.

Whether you did it tough or you were fortunate enough to see growth, you got through it. For many businesses, things are starting to pick up again, and you may be ready to hire and increase your headcount.

Traditionally, your first instinct may have been to advertise, shortlist and invite people into the office for an interview.

But things haven’t quite gone back to normal. Many people are still working from home and conducting virtual meetings. So, is there an easier way to recruit when you can’t easily have interviewees in and out of the office or don’t want to have lots of candidates on-site?

This is where hiring remotely comes in. There is a way to hire high performers into your business without the traditional face-to-face interview. We’re going to explain how.

Are you measuring false indicators?

When you interviewed in person in the past, what were the key things that you looked for in an interview that indicated whether a person would be a good hire?

They were well-dressed. They stood up to greet you. They looked you in the eye and had a firm handshake. They brought a copy of their resume. They had good body language. You just ‘liked’ them. All these indicators may have made you believe that this person could be a good fit.

But how often have you decided to hire on these indicators and one month into the role, the person does not work out? They’re late to meetings, they’re chasing the wrong customers and they’re causing friction with the other staff.

Hiring takes time and money, so you want to get it right from the start.

Advantages of recruiting virtually

You may feel trepidation about hiring someone through a screen but this method actually removes many potential biases, and sometimes distracting indicators, that can make you falsely believe someone is going to be a high performer in your business.

Virtual interviews have more benefits than you might think, including:

  • Flexibility – Video interviews allow candidates to be more flexible with their time, meaning you can interview them over their lunch break via their phone. You don’t have to work around their work schedules.
  • Faster response times – Virtual interviewing eliminates travel time for the candidate, and administration time for you – no reception, greeting, coffee or set up. You can just jump online and you’re ready to meet.
  • Broader pools – You can also tap into candidates who live further away from your office, those with caring responsibilities or other commitments that mean they can’t travel to an interview.
  • Demonstrates your workforce capability – Candidates, now more than ever, are asking about flexibility and working from home. If you can demonstrate you are forward-thinking and have the capability to hire remotely, you’re more likely to be favoured as a potential employer.

Hiring remotely could be the solution

A face-to-face interview doesn’t have to be the only measure of a candidate’s potential. There are plenty of tools and resources you can use to accurately predict the success of your next hire from afar. It’s worth considering some of these virtual options to include in your future hiring processes. Here are some ways to get the most out of hiring remotely.

Consider a phone pre-interview

Start with a casual phone interview. A phone interview can save both your time and the candidate’s time while allowing you to assess essential criteria, their attitude and motivation before they take the time to travel into the office.

Make sure you are covering off the essentials of the role in this conversation – their experience and transferable skills, their motivation, career goals, salary, qualifications and location. This way, you’re not wasting anyone’s time if you move forward but they’re looking for a salary $10,000 above what the role is paying.

One of the most game-changing questions we ask in every phone interview is ‘After reading our advertisement, what stood out to you about this particular role?’

This tells us, firstly, how much attention they paid to the advertisement or if they were just blasting their resume off everywhere and, secondly, what are their motivations and what are they placing the most value on.

There’s a stark contrast between them saying, ‘Not sure, just that I’ve done it before’ and ‘The role aligns with my career goals in customer service. I’ve researched the company and the culture of collaboration and learning appeals to my personal values.’

Choose the right environment

A face-to-face interview can be recreated quite easily via video conference software.

When conducting your video interview, find somewhere quiet with good lighting and a neutral background. Use headphones with a mic if the environment you are in has an echo or there is unavoidable background noise.

The candidate is already likely nervous and virtual interviews can compound this if they haven’t done one before so you want to make them feel at ease. This will allow them to answer your questions in a relaxed manner.

Test your tech

Test your wi-fi connection, speaker and microphone beforehand and put your phone on Do Not Disturb.

If you’re in a place with inconsistent wi-fi, consider relocating for the interview, asking if others in your household or workplace can limit wi-fi use for the duration of the interview, or ensure you’ve set up a hotspot from your phone that you could easily switch over to if you need to.

After all, you want to make the role and your business appealing to the right candidate. High-performing candidates are in demand and businesses need to be thinking about how to make the candidate experience as smooth as possible. Induction and onboarding are a whole other story!

Ask behavioural-based questions

This type of interview question assesses the candidate’s suitability for the position through evaluating previous behaviours. One of the best predictors of future behaviour is past behaviour and you can observe what the candidate did in a scenario, as opposed to what they say they would do.

Structure the video interview as you typically would a face-to-face interview. Start by introducing yourself and building rapport, ask the candidate how they are and if they’ve completed a virtual interview before. Let them know that today is about understanding a bit more about them, their career history and how it could align with the role, and make sure to let them know you’re going to ask some behavioural-based questions.

Invest in good software

Investing in quality video conferencing software is important. It will help ensure the candidate’s experience is as strong as it would be face-to-face.

There are many online platforms that you can use to conduct video interviews. Do some research into the ones that suit your business. If you’re already using Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you may want to stick with those. There are also providers that specialise in purpose-built recruiting software.

It’s important to know that if you record the interview, you must let the candidate know they are being recorded and the purpose of the recording. It’s essential to ensure you have a safe space to store the recording afterwards. Candidate privacy isn’t something you want to be flippant about.

Save time with psychometric assessments

There are mixed views when it comes to psychometric assessments and you may or may not have had experience with them in the past. We’ve been using a premium provider for the past 15 years and have found them to be most effective when used alongside other assessments like behavioural-based interviews.

A psychometric assessment allows you to understand the natural behaviours that can’t be observed in other assessments. It is best used alongside the phone pre-interview and behavioural video interview, so you can have a well-rounded view of a candidate’s likely performance.

There are multiple types of psychometric assessments out there you can use to screen a wide pool of candidates. After years of recruiting high performers, two we have found to be highly effective are personality profiles and aptitude testing.

Personality profiles

A personality profile is a self-complete questionnaire that assesses a candidate’s natural energy and whether it aligns with the position.

For example, for a sales role, do they intrinsically enjoy selling and negotiating or is it something that drains their energy? Will adhering to deadlines and schedules come naturally to them or do they need to be constantly reminded and followed up to complete things?

Aptitude assessments

Aptitude assessments measure a candidate’s static ability in areas such as inductive reasoning, numerical reasoning and deductive reasoning. There’s often a benchmark used to assess whether you’re going to have issues with a candidate’s performance.

For example, if a candidate scores poorly in their inductive reasoning, this indicates that they will likely have issues piecing together ideas with limited information, problem-solving and committing new information to memory. For you this means you might find yourself repeating directions, providing extra support and thinking, ‘Surely I’ve already told them that!’ Particularly if you are hiring someone who will work from home, the last thing you want is to not be able to trust them to complete their work independently.

Pay attention to the in-between moments

The in-between moments are outside of interviews and assessments, when a candidate doesn’t feel like they are being measured or on show. These glimpses are an absolute nugget of insight into their behaviour and attitude. Do they respond to emails and phone calls on time? Have they been flexible with their availability? Have they completed tasks when they said they would? These are all likely indicators of what they’ll be like as an employee.

Don’t forget to sell the role

A face-to-face interview, completed in the office, is going to be the most effective method of allowing the candidate to understand the work environment, the office energy and how they might fit within that. When this isn’t a possibility, there are other ways to communicate how great your workplace is.

When speaking with the candidate, talk through the things that make your workplace unique. For example:

  • What are the values of the business and do you actively promote them?
  • Does the team organise social events outside of work and how often?
  • Is there a focus on learning and development for staff? What does this look like?
  • Organise a video conference with another staff member so the candidate can ask questions of someone who works there.
  • Talk through the kind of people who have been successful and suit your organisation and the types of people that have not. While it can be a little confronting to talk about who might not work out, it’s worth it long term if the candidate can’t see themselves being successful with you.

Streamline your recruitment processes

As a business owner, it can be easy to want to charge ahead and only focus on your 2021 goals. However, it’s worth pausing to reflect on the year that was 2020, the positives it brought and, most importantly, what we can learn from its challenges.

It’s no secret that the future of work is likely to include a combination of onsite and remote employees. And as a small to medium-sized business owner or leader, you probably have plenty on your plate already without accommodating a new way of recruiting.

But while it can be a little uncomfortable, and even scary, to think about hiring someone through a screen, the benefits can outweigh the risks if you follow the steps above. Don’t miss out on great talent just because they can’t physically come into the workplace. Instead, look at this as an opportunity to improve your hiring processes, broaden your scope of candidates and save you time and money.

Kate Walker

Talent Aquisition Specialist | Inject

Being born into a family of small business owners fuelled my drive to work with authentic, innovative and tenacious people who happen to be small business owners! At the crux of what I do, there’s a deep curiosity to learn about the future of work through the lens of ambitious small to medium businesses. Throughout my time in HR and recruitment, I've been fortunate to witness what businesses can achieve with passionate leaders, supported by the right people and processes.

At Inject, we partner with business leaders looking to challenge industry norms or offer a premium service or product. We are their trusted outsourced recruitment processing team and hire motivated high performers looking to grow with a business. At our sister company, Beyond HR, we consult to small and medium businesses looking to build high-performance cultures and do our best work with those who believe their people are their competitive advantage.