With the increase in cases of COVID-19, should companies consider remote hiring?

Remote Hiring During a National Lockdown

With the current global Coronavirus pandemic, the use of remote hiring will increase exponentially until we have a clear timeline as to when working from home and self-isolation advice is lifted. At present, there is no exact date as to when normal proceedings will resume, so now more than ever it is key for businesses to continue to have plans in place to enable them to continue recruiting. So why should employers consider hiring remotely?

Time

Both the interviewer and the interviewee have fewer restrictions regarding timings. The interviewer may find it easier to schedule a call or video-call into their diary as opposed to a face to face meeting, and for the interviewee, they wouldn’t have the issue of travelling to and from the site so would be more likely to be able to fit a remote interview into their lunch break, for example. The interviewee is also less likely to have to take as much time off for a remote interview, compared to an in-person one, so they will more flexible and will be more likely to ‘attend’ further interviews. There tends to be an issue at the end of the holiday year for getting any time off for interviews if workers have taken all their allocated annual leave, so this issue would definitely be reduced.

Cost

Remote interviews will also help to reduce the cost of interviewing significantly. In some circumstances, the interviewer will reimburse any travel expenses incurred, however this isn’t always the case. By interviewing through calls/video calls, the cost of travel is completely removed from the equation. Again, this may lead both parties to agree to have additional stages of the process than initially thought as they don’t need to worry about the monetary issues.

Geographical location

As previously stated, travelling is no longer a factor in the process, companies will be able to expand the geographical locations they are looking in to source new members of their team. While getting someone to relocate is still an issue long term, the candidate pool is significantly increased and may lead to a more suitable hire.

Technology

While technology is always adapting and there are systems in place to enable video interviews using the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, unfortunately these applications are only as good as your internet connection. If the connection is poor, due to location or the number of others using the connection, then it may lead to a lagged video or parts of conversation being missed out. Interviews can be stressful and awkward at the best of times and adding this to the equation may not lead to the best performance from the interviewee.

Reluctance

A key part of any interview process is coming on site, meeting as many prospective colleagues as possible and getting a full understanding of the capabilities of the business. Part of the interview can involve a site tour and a chance to see the product being made first-hand. When interviewing remotely, this major part of the process is excluded, so you may find that the successful candidate is reluctant to join as they don’t feel they have the full understanding of what the company provides.

Barriers

While technology is adaptive and can and has easily reacted to the sudden need for working from home, it is harder to get the full picture of someone from a video-call. You don’t get the opportunity to see how the potential employee interacts with other members of the business. When interviewing on site, greeting someone at reception can be a major part of understanding their usual behaviour. If while they are waiting, they don’t engage with anyone else and have their eyes glued to their phone, they may not be someone you would envisage joining your team, but that would be lost in a video interview.

Remote hiring is currently looking like the most viable option to contain the spread of COVID-19 during the recruitment process, and there are benefits, but they must be considered against the potential pitfalls. There are also several ways to mitigate the risks involved with hiring remotely which I will cover in a subsequent blog. In this current climate, businesses want to continue operating as usual and therefore must consider alternative methods for hiring.

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