04/01/2020 by Carney Sandoe Staff | Education News and Trends
7 Tips for Conducting a Smooth Virtual Hiring Process
Video interviews have been part of schools' hiring procedures for years – a process that up until recently has been supplemented with in-person interviews and campus visits. Now that a vast majority of schools are closed and most people are working from home, video is becoming the medium of the entire hiring process.
For some schools, video interviews are familiar and might already be a main component of the process. For others, this is a relatively new concept and they are quickly adapting to new technologies and adjusting traditional ways of evaluating candidates.
Whether you’re a video-interviewing veteran or a virtual novice, consider the tips below. The good news is that many of the same approaches and considerations that you bring to in-person candidate interviews will serve you well while conducting a virtual hiring process.
1. Decide how the full hiring process will be run and communicate that clearly and thoroughly with your colleagues.
As your policies and procedures change in the face of coronavirus, make sure your whole hiring team is on the same page about what the full process looks like.
This means what steps the hiring process will or won't include, which steps will be done by what type of technology, how you are going to handle a demo lesson (if applicable), if you're going to offer some type of virtual tour or what you will do to replace it, and other steps that might be new to your school's hiring process to augment the experience.
It can be a challenge to keep everyone in the loop in an efficient way when you and your colleagues are all working remotely. It's important to put in the extra effort to systematically document your hiring process moving forward in order to avoid internal confusion. Creating something as simple as a shared file in Google Docs can do the trick.
2. Share everything about the process with candidates.
Over-communication is your friend in this new hiring environment. Everyone is dealing with uncertainty and high levels of stress, so don't be afraid to overcommunicate – it will help to put candidates at ease and ensure a seamless hiring process.
Once you have engaged a candidate and let them know you would like to begin the interview process, give them a rundown of the details of each step of the process, even all the way through to finalist interviews, so they know what to expect. These are uncharted waters for candidates too, and anything you can do settle their nerves will benefit both sides.
In addition to outlining the full interview process, some other useful things to share might include:
- Which digital tools you will be using (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, etc.) and whether they will need to download any software.
- Which parts of the process will be done using which tool or tools.
- Clear instructions on who will initiate the call or video conference, and a backup phone number in case there is a glitch in the technology.
- Who the candidate will be interviewing with (include names and job titles) at each stage of the process.
- Your expectations for their interviews. For example, will the candidate need to give a full background of their experience at each step or when interviewing with new members of the hiring team?
3. Prepare and test your technology. Then test it again.
You might be used to using tools like Zoom or Skype in a situation where your whole hiring team can gather in the same room around a screen. Now that multiple people will be conferencing into a virtual interview, take the time to make sure all your colleagues understand the technology. Do a test run, make sure everyone can hear and see each other (and can use the mute function!), and give your colleagues feedback on how their remote space looks on-screen.
To reinforce that you're taking the interview as seriously as you want the candidate to take it, make sure everyone's space is free of distractions, quiet, and well-lit. This recent blog post for candidates goes into more details around preparing for a virtual interview; most if not all of the same tips apply to schools.
4. Practice a compelling school culture pitch.
Not being able to set foot on campus is obviously a major challenge of virtual interviewing and hiring. A campus visit helps reinforce what candidates have learned about your school's environment and offers them a chance to experience and evaluate the community they could be a part of.
While it's hard to compensate for that entirely, preparing a compelling school culture pitch will be time well spent. Schools have a big opportunity to differentiate themselves by telling compelling stories, focusing on their missions and visions, and tying that into what a candidate might value. The members of your school's admissions department can be a great resource here.
You can also consider using extra things like recordings of assemblies, pep rallies, faculty meetings, or testimonials to help paint a picture of your school's culture.
5. Be professional – yet forgiving.
We know you don't need the reminder…but it's important to signal to every candidate that the virtual hiring process and video interviews they are about to have are just as serious as an in-person interview would be.
Accordingly, bring your A game. Dress appropriately, turn the ringer off on your phone, as well as the notifications on your computer. Remember to smile and make and sustain eye contact. It can help to nod when a candidate is talking to show that you are following and the technology is functioning properly.
However, it's equally important to understand that, just like you, candidates are most likely working and interviewing from home – along with their spouses, partners, roommates, children, and pets. If life interrupts the interview or a dog is barking in the background, candidates should not be penalized. Be mindful of using a little extra compassion and thoughtfulness during these challenging times.
6. Follow up.
This touches again on number 2 about overcommunicating. Keep candidates in the loop in terms of next steps or if your hiring process has changed timelines. In these trying times, candidates might be more anxious than usual about knowing where they stand. You can also update your Carney Sandoe job contact so they can answer your candidate's questions about timing and where you are in the process.
After a video interview, consider sending a thank-you note to the candidate for being adaptable and using their valuable time to speak to your team. This is a great time to ask candidates for feedback on the process (see the next tip) and to outline any relevant next steps.
7. Evaluate and make necessary changes to the process.
After each step of the hiring process, check in with your colleagues about how they think it went.
Are there things you would do differently next time? Have you found one tech tool more user-friendly than another? Is something missing from your process that is preventing you from gathering a complete sense of a candidate's skills and character? Don't get discouraged if things seem messy at first. Use each interview and step of your hiring process as an opportunity to improve the next one.
As mentioned above, take advantage of the opportunity to also ask your candidates how the process is going. You want to make sure things are working for them as well.
No one has the perfect formula for what a virtual hiring process should look like. Every school is different – what works for one school might not work for another. But hiring virtually is not impossible! Many schools have been using a fully-virtual process successfully for years. We hope these tips – with a little experimentation and a lot of heart – help your school find what works for you.
Share what has worked for your school – or didn't work – in the comments below!