Virtual Recruitment: How To Hire, Train, and Onboard in a Remote World

Many employers are navigating how to hire, train, and onboard new employees virtually during the COVID-19 crisis. There are more tools than ever to support remote work, but it’s important to understand the nuances of virtual recruitment and set yourself up for success as an employer. Processes that worked well for in-person onboardings may need to be simplified for remote trainings, while the skills you seek in candidates may shift in a virtual work environment.

Whether you’ve conducted virtual recruitment for years or are just learning the ins and outs of managing a remote team, you can fine-tune your hiring, training, and onboarding policies to lead by example as a remote employer. This guide will help you overcome some of the common challenges and learning curves employers experience when hiring talent virtually. 


Develop a clear process

Just as you would plan for a traditional hiring process, start by setting clear remote hiring strategies. What does success look like for this virtual role? What’s the best way to articulate this role in a job description? With these pieces in place, you can create a clear, equitable hiring process that will help you understand a candidate’s track record, aptitude, motivation, and core behaviors. 

Without face-to-face contact, it’s more crucial than ever to implement video interviews so you can get to know a candidate’s personality and cultural fit. These qualities are much easier to determine when you can see a candidate’s nonverbal communication and body language over video versus email or phone.

Ask the right questions

Research conducted by Cornell University’s Center for Advanced Human Resources Studies indicates that traits most critical to telecommuters’ performance include self-motivation and self-discipline, effective communication, a results-orientated outlook, resourcefulness, and technological savvy. With these attributes in mind, behavioral interview questions can help you learn about a candidate’s ability to work independently and manage their own time. 

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A candidate’s past behaviors will help illustrate whether the person has the competencies and self-direction you’re seeking for a remote employee. Asking behavioral questions will also help you suss out a candidate’s ability to collaborate with others as part of a remote team.

Put candidates to the test 

With in-office talent, it’s easier to provide on-the-job training and mentorship for someone who may be a strong cultural fit but doesn’t have all the skills you’re seeking. This proves more challenging in a virtual work environment. By conducting a skills assessment such as a writing test or hypothetical IT project, you can gain a relevant understanding of a candidate’s skills and how they’d fit into your team

You can choose to conduct a skills assessment in real-time during a virtual interview, or give a candidate an assignment to complete by a certain date and time. Sometimes employers will even offer paid internships or trial runs to determine if a candidate is the right match.

Maintain clear candidate communications

During a difficult time, small kindnesses go a long way. Throughout the virtual recruitment process, give candidates the courtesy of clear, consistent communication. Follow up in a timely manner and let candidates know where they stand in the process. 

Even if they don’t receive a job offer, candidates will remember how you treated them and whether you communicated effectively. If a candidate has a negative experience with your virtual recruitment process, this may have a negative impact on your company in the future. Open, honest, and empathetic communication will set you apart as a remote employer.

Training and Onboarding

Send a welcome package

Once you’ve made a virtual hire, it’s time to delve into training and onboarding. While you aren’t conducting these processes in person, you can strike a welcoming tone by sending a welcome package. In your welcome package, you should include a welcome letter, company policies and procedures,  equipment the new employee will need, branded company collateral, and details about company communication and culture. 

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Send this welcome package to your new hire  with plenty of lead time before their start date and schedule first-day meetings for onboarding and training. This will enable the new employee to familiarize themself with the materials, ask questions, and know what to anticipate on their first day.

Create a training/onboarding plan and develop 30, 60, 90-day goals

According to Sapling statistics, great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82 percent. The platform also reports the average new hire onboarding experience consists of 54 activities. By streamlining your onboarding process, you can ensure your new employee will begin a path to long-term satisfaction and engagement.

Set out to create a focused, engaging, and productive onboarding for a new employee by providing multiple communication channels, introducing them to new colleagues, and providing detailed documentation about their role and responsibilities. Platforms such as Zoom and Slack are great professional tools you can use to build rapport and relay information between your team and your new hire. Once you’ve conducted training and onboarding, you can develop a 30, 60, 90-day plan so the new remote worker has a clear set of goals to work toward. 

Have managers schedule one-on-one time

A LinkedIn study showed that 72 percent of respondents listed one-on-one time with their direct manager as the most important part of any pre-boarding or onboarding process. By scheduling regular one-on-ones, managers can share project feedback, support new employees through challenges, and help track their progress on the 30, 60, and 90 day goals. Managers can easily schedule these meetings by sending out recurring calendar invites with a video chat link to Google Hangouts or Zoom.

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When a new employee knows they can reach out to their manager, they’ll be more likely to ask important questions, flag issues, and work as a team contributor to overcome obstacles. Regular communication between managers and virtual employees can also foster trust, build  rapport, and support team morale. 

Set up frequent check-ins to make sure training is on track

Early on, one of the best things human resources departments and managers can do is to check in with new employees about their training. Another way to bring virtual employees into the fold is to set up video meetings with their new colleagues who can cover certain aspects of the training, answer questions, and share their experience of the company.

With 80 percent of business professionals already relying on video chats for one-on-one meetings, this is an ideal platform to conduct trainings and foster a sense of community with virtual employees. 

Ensure new hires don’t feel overwhelmed

Among the reasons remote employees leave their roles early are unmet expectations, a lack of clarity about their role, poor management, and limited opportunities for professional development. By getting your virtual recruitment and onboarding processes right, you can avoid overwhelming new talent with too much information. This will help ensure that they feel excited and supported in their new role. 

Strive to check in regularly and leave plenty of time in one-on-ones for questions. The extra time you take upfront with your virtual recruitment and onboarding will pay dividends when you have happy, engaged, and productive virtual employees down the road. Building a comprehensive virtual recruitment plan will not only help you  grow your remote work base, it will also lead to happier, more productive employees and continued success for your company.