How to hire in our new remote working reality

The margin for error in business is always razor-thin. In times of economic crisis, it’s almost non-existent.

That’s why it’s crucial for start-ups to make the right hires — something they consistently struggle to do. Bad hires cost companies at least 30% of their first-year salaries and can sink a business strapped for cash. Good hires help companies earn up to 33% more revenue and establish a culture of success.

Physical distancing makes the hiring challenge even more daunting. Managers must now screen, evaluate and select candidates through a video conferencing screen. But effective hiring in a remote working environment is possible. It requires a structured, consistent and data-driven approach that enables every qualified candidate a chance to shine — but leaves only the very best candidates standing.

Reducing bias

Ability to work independently in a competitive work environment.

The above criteria for a hypothetical job description is riddled with gender bias, yet phrases just like it routinely crop up in postings. Bias discourages diverse candidates from applying in the first place and without diverse perspectives, businesses often flounder.

Reducing bias requires managers to identify what the role requires for success. Anchoring job descriptions around performance objectives makes your priorities clear and leaves the door open to a broader range of applicants. With many people now working remotely, that talent pool includes international candidates who are just as logistically viable as local ones.

Sharpening screening

Skills assessments are another valuable tool for businesses to size up candidates remotely in a more objective manner. Many popular job search websites such as Indeed offer skills assessments that capture more of an applicant’s breadth of skills than resumes alone, which are generally not predictive of success.

Hiring managers shouldn’t ignore internal candidates, either. In times of economic crisis, the best hire may be the one they’ve already made! External hires are typically pricier than internal promotions and tend to be less productive in the first couple of years. Digital platforms like Plum help managers more accurately assess the potential of existing employees and steer them into roles which fit them best.

“Because we use psychometric data, it’s actually four times more accurate than the data you’d collect from a resume. We’re looking at people’s priorities and enabling innate talents that don’t change over time,” says Caitlin MacGregor, the company’s Co-Founder & CEO. “And what’s great is we’ve been able to maintain that accuracy, but use technology to scale it without falling into poor quality data problems.”

Structuring evaluation

The unfortunate reality is that interviews conducted via video conferencing tools are unflattering for both hiring managers and job candidates, but are currently unavoidable. Structured interviews offset this by bringing greater objectivity to the process. They enable managers to compare notes on an apples-to-apples basis and overcome snap judgments of candidates. They’ve also proven to be more predictive of an applicant’s success.

It takes self-discipline, clear communication skills, and tech savviness to effectively work from home. Therefore, it’s important for hiring managers to focus their questions on a candidate’s experiences with remote collaboration and communication with dispersed teams. The ability to effectively build relationships with colleagues and take initiative to complete projects are much more important than familiarity with remote working software.

In these uncertain times, job applicants crave transparency from employers. They consistently gripe about being ‘ghosted’ even after reaching the later stages of the interview process. Hiring managers need to take the time to nurture professional relationships with these candidates. It builds rapport with a potential hire down the line and keeps a company’s reputation healthy among jobseekers.

The golden rule for hiring remotely: treat candidates as you’d treat them in-person. A more personal touch will help everyone navigate this rapidly changing new reality.

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Industry news, insights, research and portfolio updates brought to you by BDC Capital’s Strategic Investments and Women in Technology Venture Fund

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Industry news, insights, research and portfolio updates brought to you by BDC Capital’s Strategic Investments and Women in Technology Venture Fund

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