Virtual Recruiting: Hire the best in the West (or anywhere really)

More and more companies are utilizing technology to create virtual jobs, wherein some or all of their staff is able to work remotely, outside of a centralized work environment. There are many reasons for this move, including a substantial reduction in operating costs and certain tax advantages. But with this transition comes a host of unique opportunities and challenges.

In some ways, virtual recruiting is quite different than traditional “brick-and-mortar” office recruiting. While candidate skillsets are still identified, interviews are still conducted, and references are still reviewed to cull out the best-of-the best, a big differentiator lies in the talent pool itself. In traditional offices, candidates must typically be located in a particular geographic location. In virtual offices, the geographical barrier is removed, which greatly expands a company’s options of qualified talent. Companies can recruit individuals from virtually anywhere (no pun intended), which allows them to select candidates whose skillsets and work ethic is the best fit for the company, regardless of where they are located.

Surprisingly, even with the advancement of technology and an increase in the number of employees choosing to work remotely, recruiting in the virtual world can still seem like uncharted territory when it comes to big-name job search engines. There is rarely a location checkbox for “remote” or “work from home.” While there are some career sites that are beginning to cater to the virtual world, most of them are only for those with certain qualifications, and a vast majority of employment websites still require both the recruiter and the potential candidate to narrow their searches by location. In the virtual world, whether a candidate lives in Seattle or Miami Beach, essentially all they really need to perform their tasks are the right equipment, a work space, and connectivity to the Internet to stay in communication with their team. This often makes their geographical location a nonfactor in the overall hiring process. The limitations of professional recruiting site features has caused HR teams in the virtual world to become more creative about recruiting methods, utilizing a combination of social media, ad placement in industry publications/websites, targeted user groups, and personal referrals.

In fact, according to an Oct. 1, 2015 blog entitled “Social Media – The Most Popular Recruitment Tool” from The California Employer’s Report, “two-thirds of companies found new hires through social media in the past year” and “87% of HR professionals said it was very or somewhat important for job seekers to be on LinkedIn.” It cited a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and Ascendo Resources, which found that “57% of organizations found new employees through LinkedIn, 30% through professional or association network sites, and 19% on Facebook.”

Something to keep in mind is that while people often express a desire to work from home, the truth is that working from home is not the ideal work environment for everyone. It requires a special type of person who is adept at time management, can stay motivated, and can focus on the task at hand in a sometimes unstructured and distracting environment. It’s therefore very important during the recruiting process for the interviewer to assess whether or not a candidate has strong self-management qualities. When interviewing, it’s just as important to ask questions that reveal a candidate’s aptitude for working in a virtual environment as it is to focus on the candidate’s other qualifications, as even the most skilled candidate may be unfit for working remotely. Here are some interview questions that should be addressed:

  • Do you have previous experience working in a virtual environment?
  • Why do you want to work for a virtual company?
  • Do you have a dedicated workspace or home office available?
  • What is your preferred communication style (i.e. in person, via email, or phone)?

Most importantly, the interviewer should give the candidate time to talk about their professional disciplines, which should include attributes such as:

  • Goal setting
  • Establishing priorities
  • Learning new skills
  • Self-motivation
  • Staying focused
  • Organizational tools

By asking cognitive questions, the interviewer will gain better insight into not only how a candidate will fit in with the company’s culture, but also their suitability to work in a virtual work environment. For all the challenges that come with employing a virtual workforce, when it’s done right, the benefits can far outweigh the hurdles that are encountered along the way.

Kimberly Magras

Administrative Services Coordinator