5 tips for recruiting tech talent remotely

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Switched to remote recruiting overnight due to COVID-19? Already been hiring from home a few days a week? 

While you might’ve recruited for remote roles before, you may not have done it 100% remotely yourself. That’s because for many recruitment teams, the hiring process is high-touch, with physical presence in the office preferred or required. But expanding social distancing measures means that’s changing quickly. 

To help you continue making valuable connections with candidates, here are five tips for making the most of remote recruiting—from video interviews to coaching your hiring managers to attending virtual career fairs and more.

1. Set up a booth at a virtual career fair

When candidates can’t attend in-person career fairs or when you want to reach non-local candidates, consider a virtual career fair where you can meet and interact with hundreds of tech candidates from your living room.

With virtual career fairs, candidates enter a virtual lobby and get the chance to browse company booths. When a candidate “visits” your booth, you can chat one-on-one, share details about your company culture and even screen promising candidates on the spot through chat and video conference. 

This way, even if candidates can’t interview onsite, they can still get a feel for the opportunity and work environment.

2. Get face time with your candidates

Instead of phone screens (or turning off your computer’s webcam), try talking face-to-face with your candidates via video chat to get a better understanding of their personality, skills and passion for the role. Video interviews also make a positive impact on candidate experience, giving you the chance to visually connect with candidates you might not otherwise get to meet in person.

As Katrina Dvorcek, Technical Recruiter at Indeed, puts it: “I believe candidates feel it’s more personal and the opportunity is more achievable when their recruiter takes time out of their day to meet with them via video (Zoom in our case at Indeed). I’ve received a lot of feedback of how appreciative candidates are that we communicate with them and keep them informed so frequently in this manner.”

3. Prep candidates for the remote interview process

Interviews can be a make-or-break experience for candidates. In fact, 83% say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role, even if they were previously interested. Make sure potential hires stay excited about the opportunity by preparing them for the remote interview process.

“One major shift to my recruiting strategy is how to best prep candidates on interviewing virtually so that they’ll be just as successful and comfortable as they would be in an onsite, in-person setting,” says Shelly Bernell, Technical Recruiter at Indeed. 

She recommends giving candidates video interviewing tips in addition to any standard prep materials you usually provide. Indeed, for instance, compiled a remote interviewing guide for recruiters to send to their candidates, including tips on how to choose an interview space and test technical equipment. 

Beyond basic video interview prep, it’s also important to communicate the details of coding interviews ahead of time. Will candidates need to share their screen at any point? Download a specific program? Have a physical whiteboard ready?

MeeJee Davies, Technical Recruiter at Indeed, explains:

“I think the biggest thing is making sure that the candidate experience stays as close to normal as possible. For every single candidate that I had doing an onsite final interview, I did about 30 minutes of prep with them prior. I went over not only my typical technical tips, but also what coding/video platform they were going to be using, who they were talking with and anything else they needed to get ready ahead of time, like setting up a GitHub account early.” 

4. Err on the side of over communication 

Since you won’t be able to meet your candidates in person, show them that their time and efforts are valued by laying out what the interview process looks like. Do your best to let them know two important things early on: when a hiring decision will likely be made and how much of their time you’ll require, including how many (and what type of) interviews they can expect.

“I believe that committing to a transparent and communicative relationship with candidates throughout the entire recruiting process is essential,” says Bernell. “And even more so in a fully virtual environment.”

If your candidates will be in all-day virtual interviews, check in regularly to make sure they’re comfortable—i.e., do they need a quick break to use the bathroom or get a drink of water? Staying in frequent contact is also a good way to collect feedback you can use to improve future remote interviews.

Bernell continues, “Since I won’t have the opportunity to meet my candidates in person and escort them around the office, I make sure to briefly check in with them during the day as well as at the end of their day to gather any feedback on their experience so we can continue to improve our remote interviewing capabilities.”

5. Coach hiring managers on candidate experience

If hiring managers need to continue to do whiteboard interviews, take-home coding assignments or pair programming, set them up for success. Will they need specific tools to interview candidates (e.g., HackerRank account, physical whiteboard, GitHub profile)? What should they do if they experience a technical issue? How should they be communicating with candidates during the remote interview process?

Davies makes sure all interviewers are ready ahead of time. “Behind the scenes, I ping/email every one of the people listed on the interview the day before and make sure that they’re ready on their end,” she says.

It’s also important to touch base with your hiring managers regularly to get feedback, review candidates in the pipeline, tweak job descriptions to include WFH keywords and offer remote interviewing advice. Davies explains that sometimes you have to get creative when you can’t just pop over to a hiring manager’s desk to ask questions or get updates (especially if they’re slow to reply to your pings or emails). 

“I couldn’t get a hold of a manager that I needed an answer from ASAP on a candidate,” says Davies. “So I looked at his calendar and saw that he was meeting with someone in three minutes. I know that person is always responsive via ping so I asked them to tell the manager to please respond to me.”

What if your company has hit pause on hiring?

If you’re in a holding pattern, continue to nurture relationships with candidates in your pipeline. Be as honest as you can about hiring timelines. If your company’s hiring pause is indefinite, tell candidates instead of leaving them guessing.

Staying in contact with candidates helps keep them engaged so you can start hiring as soon as your company is ready.

Staying connected while recruiting remotely

Recruiting from your living room comes with its own unique challenges—but you might end up making even better connections in a remote setting.

“I like to use the opportunity of working from home to focus on reaching out to as many candidates as I can and being able to increase productivity without distractions,” explains Palmer. “This also means I get to have more conversations with candidates—it’s not only great for filling roles but helps me personally to have more human connection while social distancing.”

And while you’re trying to stay engaged with your team, in contact with hiring managers and in communication with your candidates, don’t forget to take care of yourself. “It’s been important to remember to take breaks to walk around, play with the dogs or meditate,” says Dvorcek. “Also ensuring that I set an end time to my work day has been critical, because it’s so easy to get caught up working into the evening if you do not remember to set limitations for yourself.”

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