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How To Create More Inclusive Remote Hiring and Onboarding Processes

This article was written by two of Paradigm’s expert consultants, Pin-ya Tseng and Alex Ruiz 

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting global economic downturn has resulted in a challenging time for hiring, both for recruiters and hiring managers and the candidates themselves. As nearly all non-essential workers are remote and most communication is now virtual, employers are having to shift all hiring processes and expectations to these new standards—but how do we do so with inclusion in mind? As we discussed in our previous webinar, What’s Next for Inclusive Hiring?, many organizations are still opening roles or considering how to improve their process while hiring has paused or slowed down. Studies show that women and people of color are losing jobs due to COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate, and research has long shown that people of color get hired at lower rates. There are many things that we can do during this time to prioritize diversity, so here are some tips for how to adapt or improve your remote hiring process:

Take time to improve your hiring process

One barrier to inclusive remote hiring is our failure to manage our unconscious bias throughout the hiring process. For example, researchers have consistently told us that the name on the top of a resume can be a source of bias, and that these biases often occur due to our tendency to take mental shortcuts when making quick decisions. These problems are exacerbated in today’s environment because in times of stress and uncertainty, we become more risk averse and may be especially likely to take shortcuts in favor of candidates who look like people we already have on our teams. Here are some tips for managing bias throughout the hiring process:

  • Sourcing: Engage remotely with community partnerships, organizations, or schools to reach a more diverse pool of qualified candidates. For example, the Grace Hopper Celebration is hosting their conference virtually this year, or you can post your STEM jobs on the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers’s Career Center.
  • Resume Reviews: Establish which competencies actually matter and what exactly you’re looking for before you write job descriptions or review resumes, apply that criteria consistently, and create formal processes like resume review checklists. This will not only help you be more consistent, it can actually help you move more quickly.
  • Interviews: Create a structured process with set questions and use rubrics to assess candidate responses; limit “off-line” conversations between interviewers and require interviews to write down feedback immediately after the interview.
  • Candidate Debriefs: Add structure to the discussion (pro-tip: center the discussion on the specific attributes you were assessing for, and ask each interviewer to give their perspective on that attribute), ensure every interviewer shares their perspectives, have more senior people speak last to avoid anchoring effects, and call out potential bias.

(For more tips, check out our webinar with Greenhouse on creating an inclusive hiring process.) 

Create an inclusive remote candidate experience

Part of improving the hiring process means we need to be intentional about how we adapt the in-person candidate experience to a remote setting. Biases that arise in-person can be compounded when we are interacting remotely: our first impressions of candidates may be even less accurate when we can’t observe body language over a call, our bias against certain accents may become more pronounced, or the candidate’s choice of virtual background can influence how much we like a candidate before we even assess skills.

  • Keep in mind that candidates are likely experiencing a new set of challenges—for example, tighter timelines to make decisions because of layoffs, barriers around access to technology, or juggling family responsibilities.  As Greenhouse suggests, build strong candidate relationships by following up regularly to provide transparent updates, and ask how they’re doing and how their search is going.
  • For interviews, set candidates up for success by sending information ahead of time:
    • Provide agendas for each interview, context on the types of questions or assessments you’ll use, and information about the interviewers.
    • Include instructions on how to use your video platform or technical assessment tools (Pro-tip: use the same video link for all interviewers, and use passwords).
    • Have a backup plan by providing dial-in numbers in case technical issues arise.
    • Offer to set up a 10-minute call before each set of interviews to go over logistics and answer any questions.
  • Relatedly, ask candidates if they have any needs or preferences that you can accommodate—they may want to split up calls versus doing them all at once, or may need interview questions displayed in text.
  • Coach interviewers on the importance of an inclusive and objective interview. Remind them to avoid distractions and turn off notifications, to look at the camera, and to end a little early to give candidates time before their next interview. Encourage them to be forgiving about mistakes, lack of familiarity, or distractions during interviews.
  • Include virtual informal coffee chats with team members so candidates can ask questions and get a sense of what it’s like to work on the team.

Foster belonging for new hires remotely

Once offers are made and accepted, new hires face unique challenges with starting a new job remotely. While belonging is critical for an employee’s performance and well-being, remote hires don’t have the benefit of in-person introductions and office interactions to create a foundation of belonging during onboarding. Making new hires feel a part of the team and setting them up for success requires managers and team members to be intentional and proactive in the new hire’s first days and weeks.

  • Given the uncertainty of people’s timelines and personal responsibilities, be flexible about new hires’ start dates.
  • Reach out to welcome new hires a week or two before their start date.
    • Send a welcome package in the mail with company swag and a handwritten note!
    • Make sure new hires get their tech and equipment on time, and that they’re connected with your operations or IT teams to get set up.
  • Add structure to help the new hire and their teammates get acquainted.
    • Ask new hires to send photos and a short bio to share with the team. If you have these for your existing team members, you can also share them with the new hire.
    • Host a virtual team lunch or happy hour, and ask icebreaker questions that help folks get to know one another.
    • Managers should schedule daily check-ins for the first week or two to have regular touch points with their new hire.
    • Assign a buddy or mentor that’s a more tenured teammate to answer lower-priority questions or host virtual coworking sessions with the new hire so they can get live support on their work.

May 27, 2020

If you’d like to learn more about how Paradigm can support your organization’s remote hiring and onboarding efforts, contact us today!