The way we think about work and office culture has fundamentally changed. Nearly 30% percent of employees want to remain remote, at least part-time. To attract and retain top talent, employers will not only need to evolve their policies to enable a hybrid working environment, but they will also need to take the time to reflect on how their current culture will translate for remote workers. And that starts with the interview experience.
Research supports that having a high-quality candidate experience in an interview process is one of the key components to closing top talent. While we’ve seen many employers focus on how to administer successful video interviews, we’ve seen few teams put adequate attention into thinking about the entire virtual interview process and candidate experience. And for job seekers, this process can be a time to shine.
Based on my experience shaping hiring strategies for high-growth and established companies alike, here are three considerations for recruiters and candidates that will ensure a quality virtual experience.
Communicate throughout the interview process, not just during the interview
In a traditional office environment, an interviewee will often have a dedicated person responsible for shepherding them throughout the process. This person will greet them, check in between meetings, ask for feedback, and create a sense of connectivity to the firm. Now that interviews are primarily virtual, the process can feel transactional for the candidate, so hiring managers should communicate early and often with applicants.
To move away from transactional communication, focus on developing a relationship with each candidate throughout the interview process. This can be as simple as setting up a phone call after a round of interviews to get feedback from the candidate and to communicate the next steps “face-to-face” versus over email.
Communication is equally essential for candidates. The written communications a candidate has with the recruiting teams—something as simple as an email—is now one of the primary methods for building relationships with people at the company and should be treated as such. Take the time to proactively provide updates to your recruiting contact after each round of interviews, reiterate your excitement about the opportunity, and share specifics from your interviews that resonated with you.
Use asynchronous video interviewing to your advantage
There are numerous benefits of video interviews and a virtual experience. For example, moving everyone to an online interview erodes geographical barriers and increases access for candidates and diversity for employers.
Another aspect of video interviewing that hasn’t garnered much attention—but should—is the idea of asynchronous video. This allows employers to meet candidates virtually at their convenience, and creates a systematic, structured interview process. As a best practice, ask open-ended behavioral questions versus ‘yes/no’ questions to ensure that asynchronous interviews aren’t overly scripted and provide insight into how a candidate thinks and what they value.
A few examples of strong behavioral questions might include:
- What’s the hardest thing you’ve overcome and how did you overcome it?
- How would a good friend describe your strengths and weaknesses?
- How did you leave your last position better than you found it?
Many tools even let employers record themselves asking each question which can make the interview process feel more human. Be sure to set expectations upfront, such as how many retakes are allowed per question or the allotted response time, to make the process less stressful and more effective for candidates.
These standardized behavioral interviews are not only one of the few ways you can increase the likelihood of making a quality hiring decision, but they also help reduce bias, eliminate surprises, and expedite the interview-to-hire timeline.
Job seekers should be just as strategic when given the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions. These serve a dual purpose of getting more information about what it’s like to work there and impress the hiring manager.
Provide insight into your company’s culture
An in-person interview experience provides organic opportunities to sell a company through insight into some of the intangibles of your work environment. In-person, a candidate has the chance to physically see an office and meet additional members of the team. Now, we need to think about how to recreate that experience virtually.
Candidates can and should ask specific questions that will reveal the way teams operate on a daily basis.
In the past, some companies relied on physical value-adds like well-stocked kitchens and ping pong tables as being representative of their culture. In a virtual experience, listing benefits and sharing perks at the end of an interview will no longer suffice.
Culture is a manifestation of an organization’s values. Companies need to be deliberate in adapting their culture to a remote environment and proactive in providing applicants with a window during the interview into what it will feel like to be a part of your company, whether you remain remote in the future or not.
Jacqueline Loeb is a senior vice president at Recruiter.com.