How To Hire And Onboard Your Contractors Remotely

2021-06-17 |  Clare Allan

It’s your first day in a new role. You wake up early, you choose your outfit carefully, and as you step through the office door for that first time that morning, the butterflies hit!

It’s only once you’ve met your new colleagues, tried hard to remember their names, and managed to login that the nerves begin to settle and you start getting into your stride. Of course, it will take a few weeks to feel completely at home, and longer still to know your colleagues properly. Some of them may even become your friends.

In fact, with many of us spending a significant amount of time at work, those colleague interactions can become increasingly important – they can make the days pass quickly, and increase your sense of fulfilment in a role.

A year ago, the thought of inducting new starters remotely, without setting foot in the office or meeting new colleagues face-to-face, seemed utterly absurd. Now it’s the norm.

But how do we make the remote hiring and onboarding process seamless? How do we ensure new starters still feel part of the business without meeting their colleagues in person? 

Hiring

The main difference between hiring in a remote environment is that the interviews are conducted online, and as such it can be harder to ensure an impactful candidate experience. There are, however, some tactics which can be employed:

  • Preparation is key. Whereas in face-to-face interviews, underprepared (but experienced) interviewers could get away with adlibbing, it’s far harder to build rapport on a video call. So, questions should be well-prepared and carefully designed to draw the candidate out, and should establish whether they’re a good cultural fit as well as a job fit.

  • Probe deeper. Some people thrive in remote working environments, others need their colleagues present to remain motivated and productive. The key is to ask the right questions to get the right candidate.

  • Elongate the process. It’s harder to read body language and visual cues, so it can help to involve more interviewers along the way.

  • Avoid the temptation to fill awkward silences. It should be a two-way conversation.

  • Tell them you’ll be taking notes. It’s harder to take notes on paper because it feels rude to look distracted when the interviewee is speaking, but you must record as much information as you can.

  • Have a plan B if the technology fails – be prepared to flip it to a phone call.

Onboarding

Onboarding is so much more than just giving your new starter the tools to do their job - it’s about helping them to settle in, to adapt to the culture and rhythm of the work. And, of course, to get to know their new colleagues.

In a remote environment, it’s even more important to deliver a robust induction process. Here are some points to bear in mind:

  • Be thorough in your introduction to policies, tools and technology. It’s a lot harder to get across how time recording needs to be done, for example, or how you use the CRM system, because the new joiner isn’t in front of you. You need to ensure the new information is being absorbed.

  • Avoid having too many blank spaces in the diary for the first few days, as the new starter will be alone, with nobody to chat to or get to know on an ad-hoc basis. So, be sure to fill the new starter’s diary, at least for the first few days.

  • Have frequent check-ins. Whereas before you might have carried out the onboarding during the first few days and then arranged a catch up for a fortnight later, more frequent conversations are required in a remote world.

  • Probe deeper during these check-ins. Again, it’s easy to miss body language cues when the conversation is happening over Teams. If someone is struggling, recognising it early on will significantly reduce the chances of the problem becoming insurmountable.

  • Simple logistics. For example ensure the laptop is there on Day 1, with logins and everything!

It’s a brave new world for everyone, and remote working doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere for a good while yet. But just a few tweaks to the interviewing and onboarding processes, and you should have no problem keeping your workforce motivated and, most importantly, happy.

What pitfalls have you encountered? 

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