The accelerated shift to remote work began as a pandemic-related necessity but emerged as a strategic business opportunity. In fact, many organizations are taking a “remote first” approach when filling open positions. When location is no longer a factor, hiring managers have access to a larger talent pool and can seek out qualified applicants virtually anywhere in the world.
That doesn’t mean remote hiring is easy. Although unemployment remains relatively high, hourly workers comprise the majority of the unemployed. Additionally, workers still feel uncertain about the future and are more likely to stick with their current job than to make a change.
Organizations need to step up their remote recruitment and hiring practices in order to fill their pipelines with qualified applicants. However, hiring managers face unique challenges when filling remote positions.
Large Volumes of Applications
Job postings for remote positions garner larger numbers of applicants. According to employment experts, there are fewer remote job openings than there are applicants who want to work remotely. This is especially true for IT positions, which are opening up at a much faster rate than the rest of the job market.
Additionally, some workers will apply even though they are unqualified simply because the job is remote. HR departments are seeing hundreds or even thousands of applications for one remote position.
Carefully crafted job descriptions won’t necessarily cut down on the number of applicants, but they will streamline the review process. Nonnegotiable requirements should be highlighted, and all others ranked from most to least important. This will enable HR staff and hiring managers to sift through applications and resumes more quickly and facilitate the use of automated screening systems.
Screening for “Soft Skills”
Narrowing the pool of applicants based upon technical skills is only the first step. Hiring managers must also evaluate characteristics such as temperament and communication skills, and whether the candidate is suited to remote work.
Remote workers must be able to stay productive with limited supervision, and collaborate with geographically dispersed team members over a variety of technology platforms. How a candidate responds to obstacles such as technology problems can also offer insight into their ability to work remotely. However, such characteristics are difficult to evaluate when hiring is done remotely as well.
Logistics of the Interview Process
The scheduling of remote interviews is often hampered by time zone differences and other logistical challenges, particularly when multiple team members are involved in the interview process. Although most organizations are set up for video conferencing, candidates won’t necessarily have that capability or use the same application as the hiring firm. They’ll want to ensure they have the right technology installed and test everything before the interview begins.
Even if the technology performs flawlessly, the candidate’s environment may not be ideal. Background noise can make it difficult for interviewers and the candidate to hear questions and responses.