It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, the idea of using video to conduct a first or second interview was something of a novelty. Most of our New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut-based clients preferred the standard practice of an initial phone screen, followed by a series of in-person interviews. The recent health crisis has changed all that. Today more and more of our clients are not only doing initial interviews via video, they’ve also started to virtually hire and onboard new employees and consultants as well.

I recently sat with Larry Hemley of S.J.Hemley Marketing to discuss trends in Virtual Hiring and Onboarding for his StaffingREEL podcast, dedicated to all things staffing. That same week, the Wall Street Journal published a similar article, “It’s Not Just Working Remotely; Hiring and Onboarding Go Virtual, Too” which happened to feature a Benchmark IT candidate! Clearly, this topic is highly relevant to the times. Please read on to discover more about the benefits and realities of virtual hiring and onboarding.

Video Interviews
Replacing in-person interviews with video interviews has posed a challenge for both candidates and hiring managers alike. It’s a new way of hiring that requires some adjustments. Not only do you have to make sure your technology is working, but it’s also crucial to be confident with the medium and take the appropriate steps to present yourself and the company as though it’s taking place face-to-face.

Most of our clients typically conduct an initial phone screen, followed by an on-site interview. These days, we’re advising clients to skip the phone screen and move directly to video. The best practice is to jump into the video interview as soon as possible and set expectations that it may only last 10-15 minutes. This moves the process forward and enables both parties to get an immediate sense if there’s a fit in terms of both hard and soft skills. If all goes well, you can schedule a follow-up video call and include additional team members.

Once you understand your specific platform and its functionality, you’ll find that virtual interviews with multiple team members can be incredibly efficient and successful. An added bonus is that most platforms allow a recording option, so you can share the interview with other team members or refer back to it as a reference.

Contrary to the burgeoning unemployment numbers, there is still a massive shortage of skilled technology talent. Our clients who have followed this path have been able to successfully speed up their hiring process without losing the quality they expect.

What About Onboarding?
The onboarding process may have shifted from in-person to virtual, but the goal remains the same: make sure the new employee or consultant feels welcome and excited to be part of the team. There are many creative ways a hiring manager or company can create a positive virtual onboarding experience. For example, some clients send flowers, a swag bag, or both to a candidate their first day on assignment. Others send a lunch gift card and schedule a video lunch meeting with the whole team on the first day. The list is endless if you apply some creativity to it.

It’s essential to put planning and forethought into a virtual onboarding schedule, so your new staffer has a clear and structured plan. Include a combination of one-on-one and group video meetings with team members and other internal stakeholders. It’s also a good idea to send a list of links (or hard copies) of relevant materials to review independently. Be sure to take the time to map out, distribute, and discuss the training schedule with everyone involved. It’s also essential to prepare for contingencies. Make sure there are other relevant and instructive tasks they can work on in the event a video-call gets pushed back or rescheduled.

Perhaps the most critical issue for a seamless virtual onboarding experience is to ensure your new employee has all the necessary technical equipment, credentials, and instructions for your workflow systems and platforms. Computers and credentials should be sent separately for security reasons and can be easily set up with the help of your IT department. We recently had a candidate start her assignment remotely, and when she received her computer, we made sure she was able to access everything she needed. This is where an internal or external recruitment resource can partner with its clients and candidates to ensure everyone has what they need to succeed in their remote workplace.

The Candidate Experience
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that your internal or external staffing partner continue a virtual onboarding and engagement process to communicate with new staffers regularly. Technology candidates still have many opportunities coming at them; therefore, you need to have a smooth onboarding and engagement process. If the candidate is off to a bad start, they can easily switch gears. This is something you always need to keep in mind in this market, but even more so in the new normal of remote work. Thankfully, there are several automated tools that prompt calls and emails to recently onboarded candidates and allow them to provide feedback.

The moment an offer has been made and accepted, a new phase begins. It’s time to start preparing for the first day and the first month on assignment. It’s essential to collaborate with the hiring manager to fully understand the onboarding plan and make sure the candidate does as well. There is usually a week or two before a candidate is onboarded, and a lot happens in that time. When this is the case, you need to make the candidate feel welcomed and wanted, and this is done by sending training materials and arranging some calls with team members. Make sure the candidate knows how excited you are for them to start. These extra things help you to maintain control of the situation and ensure that the candidate is well prepared and ready to come on board.

Tune Into the Podcast – StaffingREEL
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a full-service marketing firm specializing in IT staffing and related services. Its podcast, StaffingREEL, explores all things staffing, and provides a resource for staffing firms, hiring managers, and internal talent acquisition teams to manage their day-to-day workflow with informed insight and perspective. Listen to the full podcast HERE.

About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT –Technology Talent offers IT consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services throughout the metro New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Established in 2007, its proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service have made them a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-up, and growth-phase firms in the Tri-State area. For additional information, visit www.bmarkits.com