One thing we do often as part of running an agency for virtual administrative professionals is hiring remotely. We’ve learned a thing or two along the way!

We’ve found many amazing candidates through virtual hiring, but it definitely requires a slightly different process to find those people than in-person hiring. Strong communication is a core requirement to ensure you can find and attract the best people.

Recruiting remotely has exploded in growth recently. A LinkedIn study found that 70% of recruiters expect virtual hiring to become a standard practice.

That means honing those remote recruitment skills will be extra-important. Here are some tips for hiring in a virtual world:

#1. Have a documented process

We listed “documented process” first because your hiring process should always be well-planned. Following a documented process will enable:

  • A consistent, fair approach.
  • Transparency of process.
  • An impartial selection process.
  • A process that can be repeated.

Trying to “wing it” in the moment just leads to too many inconsistencies, or even missed opportunities. For example, your process should include guidelines such as when and how to respond to applicants. When employers are slow to do this, applicants have often moved on to something else.

Another great reason to document your process is that it allows you to more easily hand it off to someone else. When a process is documented, it doesn’t have to be siloed and you can expect that someone else following your process should get similar results.

#2. Share with candidates

Once you know exactly what your hiring process is, you’re able to share everything about that process with your candidates. There’s not really any such thing as over-communicating here. Being transparent about your process can help to ease any concerns your candidates may have. It might even shift you further up their preference list if they’re applying to multiple positions.

Most candidates want to know details, such as how interviews will run and what any potential pre-hiring test will look like. What technology will be used? What happens at each step? What sort of information should they be prepared to share?

The aim of a good recruitment process (at least for most virtual positions), is to give people the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths, not to catch people off-guard. People who are comfortable with the process tend to be more relaxed and feel more prepared to go through with it.

#3. Don’t rely on algorithms

Technology advances have blossomed in the HR space over the last few years, with one of those being algorithms for sorting through applicants, or for screening profiles on sites like LinkedIn. Recruiting virtually leaves you open to thousands of applications from all over, a large task to sort through. Your job applications represent sets of data, which algorithms are trained to skim.

The main aim of the technology is to ease some of the data-scraping tasks of the recruitment process and it does work, up to a point. One thing to know about algorithms is that they’re only as good as the data set they are presented with to screen for, which can sometimes mean good candidates get passed by.

There have been multiple studies regarding biases in recruitment software, with some highlighted in this CIO article. Let’s say you’re tasking an algorithm with finding candidates for an administrative professional role, which in the past, has been traditionally held by a female. If an algorithm were tasked with finding more candidates who look similar to past strong candidates, it might screen out good male applicants for that reason. This has been shown to happen based on gender, race, schools attended and other data points that are irrelevant to turning up a good candidate.

It’s not that you should necessarily avoid using them altogether, it’s that you need to know what they can and can’t do. Algorithms should be applied thoughtfully to narrow down a candidate pool fairly, so you need to be certain they don’t contain inherent biases.

#4. Know exactly what you need to hire for

The more clearly defined your job description, the better the quality of candidates you will get applying remotely. In fact, if you can be very specific about what you’re looking for, the strengths and skills they need, and any job requirements, many “wrong fit” candidates will screen themselves out based on the description.

On the flipside, your job description is about attracting the best people for the job. Some descriptions we see online frustrate or turn off good applicants because:

  • Duties are too vague. There aren’t a lot of people who are keen to sign up for a role that seems ambiguous or ill-defined.
  • Salary is also vague. Most applicants like to know the pay range and stating it outright helps to narrow down your applicants.
  • The advertisement says something like “entry level position,” then goes on to say the role requires 5-8 years of experience. Either it’s entry level OR it requires experience, and someone with that experience isn’t entry level!
  • The description just doesn’t sell the role well. Try to give examples of why the role is desirable. Does it involve developing new skills? Opportunities for advancement? Ongoing professional development? Exciting projects?
  • Candidates don’t get a sense of the values and culture of the company. This is important because you want candidates who will be a good fit for your values, and most people want to work for companies who align with theirs. You can at least provide a link in your description to a web page candidates can refer to when learning about your values and culture.

In short, clearly define who the role is for, then sell it to them!

#5. Master the video interview

You’re not going to meet candidates face-to-face, so the video interview is the next best thing. It lets you see expressions and put a human face to a voice or name.

Here are some of our tips for those interviews:

  • Share your technology platform early. This gives the candidate the chance to get it setup. What if they don’t yet have Zoom and you’re sending them a link two minutes prior to the interview time? They’ll be scrambling to download Zoom first in order to get connected.
  • Test your technology. You want to create a good impression, so working tech is a must!
  • Request cameras on, and make sure you do so from the initial invitation. It’s important to set that expectation. While you might not be a fan of being on camera, it’s about etiquette and setting a professional tone.
  • Follow a clear structure, and tell the candidate what that structure is.
  • Be respectful of time. Interviews that go past an hour don’t generally achieve any more than the interview that ended after 55 minutes. People (including interviewers) often lose focus after this time and it can skew the outcome.

Final thoughts

Hiring remotely can help to open up your candidate pool to a much wider group of people. Finding the right candidates among them still requires some good planning and attention to detail.

Clearly define your hiring process. Importantly, it’s as much about selling your company to the candidate as the candidate selling their eligibility to you. Take every opportunity to make the hiring process an attractive prospect for top candidates.

All the best for your next virtual hires! If you’re looking for an excellent virtual administrative professional, Worxbee is here to help. Talk to us about finding the right match for your company.