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A Guide to Digital Hiring and Virtual Onboarding in 2020


LAST UPDATED: April 7, 2023

According to a 2018 report by Owl Labs on the Global State of Remote Work, 16% of companies were fully remote and 40% of companies were considered hybrid (with both remote working and in-office options). Obviously, right now, the numbers are a little different…

Whether you’re thinking about hiring team members to start on your return to office, or you’re keen for people to begin from their homes right away – you’ve got to face the hurdles of ditching in-person interviews and onboarding. The good news is that technology is your friend, and the recruitment process has been building up to this for quite some time! We’ve put together some tips and interesting insights on how to hire digitally and how to onboard staff in a virtual space.

Digital Hiring

First – nail down exactly what it is you want from the candidate. If they’re starting remotely (rather than beginning post-lockdown), they’ll need exemplary communication and organisational skills because it will be their responsibility to speak up if they need help or are uncertain. You can get far more specific than simply stating that the required person needs to be organised or communicative. Various companies are utilising personality tests or requesting specific examples in the pre-screening phase of recruitment.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re honest about what the candidate is applying for. More so at this point in time, companies should be honest and realistic about what they offer, what the role will entail, and what the company culture is like. Nobody wants to start working in a team that boasts an agency culture only to find little-to-no social or community. Be upfront and you’ll receive relevant applications.

The specific format of your interview process should be personal to your business. As a rule of thumb, if you’re swapping out the in-person interview for something digital it pays to add an additional step in your screening stage. In other words, where your interview process might have looked something like this:

  1. Agency Screening
  2. Phone Interview
  3. Face to Face Interview

It’s likely better in the remote hiring world to have it look something like this:

  1. Agency Screening
  2. Phone Interview
  3. Group Video Interview
  4. Solo Video Interview

Obviously, this is something that you can develop and refine as you become more familiar with what does and doesn’t work for your company. Sectors and job roles may vary, so learn to tailor your interview process. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback – it’s a healthy indication of a business passionate about their own development.

As always, generic rules still exist for video interviews whether you’re in a conference room or a living room. Make sure you’re in a well-lit environment, distraction free (mobiles off), and make sure your tech is working properly before you start! You’ll likely find it useful to have paper and a pen to hand, and it’s best practise to have read the candidate’s CV/portfolio/profile ahead of time.

Virtual Onboarding

Now for the tricky part. You’ve picked the perfect candidate, they’re keen to start right away, but you’re all confined to your homes. How does the enthusiastic new member of your team get on board?

The answer? The limit is your imagination. Some of our clients have been shipping out laptops via courier to new-starters over the last few weeks so that they can join live onboarding days digitally. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and the onboarding process has been as seamless as digitally possible – enabling those new team members to engage in an interactive way from Day One.

Ultimately, if your company is happy to make it happen then you’re away! Tech powerhouse Dell has shared that they have all their onboarding materials in a digital format, including a website, documentation, and video – as well as a dedicated team in place to assist new employees. Stack Overflow, a coding and tech expertise community site, introduces new hires to members of the executive team, where they hear about the company history, culture, goals and structure. Depending on the team they’re in, they’re assigned a mentor over their six-week onboarding.

We’ve heard talk of utilising augmented reality and VR headsets to really push the boundaries in how teams are coming together. Some larger organisations already have learning platforms to take new staff through mandatory training like GDPR legislation or tech policy. There isn’t a blanket answer on how to onboard when out of office. 

It can be as simple as setting up a primary contact who’s available from their first day, and introducing them to the team via a Hangouts call. It can be as complex as a three-month schedule of webinars, a weekly phone call with the CEO, a virtual reality headset, laptop, swag bag, and Wayfair gift card to set up a home office. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you’re providing support and connection.