Tips for Hiring and Training Remotely

5 min read • Jun 16, 2020 • Ben Glaser

Ideally, small business owners could meet every new hire face-to-face for an extensive interview and onboarding process. But every small business owner knows that working conditions are rarely ideal. 

Hiring and training workers remotely has increasingly become a new reality. The transition to remote hiring and training has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, but it had already been in progress for years. And like increased work-from-home policies, this workplace shift may remain long after the current crisis is gone.

Remote hiring and training completely changes the dynamic between the company and the applicant. Here are some best practices to ensure that you get the best applicants—and hire the best candidate—for the job.

Hiring Remotely

Consider Outsourcing Your Hiring

Recruiting and hiring is a highly specialized skill—and there’s a reason big companies have large HR departments to deal with it. Small businesses can save time and money by partnering with third-party recruiters. 

“Turning your hiring needs over to a recruiting and hiring specialist ensures you not only bring on quality employees,” we wrote previously, “but you can focus on developing products, setting up new partnerships, and bringing in new customers to grow your business.”

Get More Selective

With less of a personal touch, an increase in remote hiring indicates that the job market favors employers and not job seekers. When the supply of something (like job seekers) is too high, you raise the price—in this case, the demands of the interview process. As a small business owner, you’re probably used to streamlining processes, but here, you actually want to add obstacles and friction.

Increase the requirements and responsibilities that you describe in your job listing. Add more probing questions to the interview process. Use take-home sample assignments and/or online skills tests. And don’t be afraid to add more rounds of interviews. These are not arbitrary obstacles—each one should distill your candidate pool, leaving only the most qualified and driven applicants for your focused consideration.

Use Recorded Video Questions

Recorded videos have increasingly replaced phone interviews as a first-round interview medium. Platforms like HireVue make it easy for applicants to respond to prompts with recorded responses. Time limits and restrictions on do-overs make the recorded responses more spontaneous, similar to a live conversation. And the platform makes it easier for both the interviewee and the reviewer to schedule time: both you and your applicant will appreciate the flexibility of not having to find a common free time in your calendars.

Use Live Video Interviews

Recorded videos are fine for first-round interviews, but for later rounds of interviews, use videoconferencing to create a more personal touch. Videoconferencing allows attendees to pick up on important nonverbal cues. And while multi-person Zoom meetings can be mentally overwhelming and draining, one-on-one video chats eliminate most of the problems of big video conferences. 

Focus on Culture, Not Perks

For the past few decades, companies have lured talent to their ranks with offices that more closely resemble luxury resorts than workplaces. But free food and fun outings are no longer in play—employers now have to rely on the work itself.

“For companies that previously tried to stand out by touting fun office perks—beach volleyball courts, office dogs, free lunches, and the like—the new hire pitch needs a significant revision…” writes Matt Haber on Inc.com. “With many tech companies shedding thousands of jobs, those perks now seem like signifiers of a long-ago era.”

Focus on your business’s culture instead. Set up phone calls and videoconferences to introduce the applicant to your team. Show them how you create a corporate culture while maintaining a remote workforce. Remote work policies and company culture will leave a more lasting positive impression on the applicant than small perks.

Training Remotely

Send Materials Beforehand

One of the biggest obstacles to effective remote training is the inability to keep people focused. Attendees will be more likely to follow along and not become overwhelmed with new information if they are already familiar with the material. So send materials to new hires ahead of time, following up with verification that they’ve reviewed the most important points.

Follow Guidelines for Effective Virtual Meetings

As we’ve written before, running a good virtual meeting is like running a good in-person meeting, but with all the requirements amplified—you need to be more prepared, more scheduled, and more focused. The isolation and technical aspects of virtual meetings mean that you have less room for spontaneous chatting and tangents, but you also need to engage all attendees regularly.

Schedule Meetings With Their Team and Other Essential Teams

If the new hire didn’t already meet their team during the interview process, be sure to set up a videoconference during the onboarding process. New hires should also have designated meetings and trainings with other essential teams, like IT and Operations, to learn any important company-wide infrastructure and procedures.

Follow Up Regularly

Following up is even more important with remote training. Remote workers aren’t able to pop into an office or chat during a coffee break, so they are less likely to bring up problems. “Schedule calls after their first week, month, and quarter to touch base,” says the hiring platform Workable, to “help you understand if they’re facing any difficulties and whether they’ve settled into their roles.”

A decentralized workplace requires remote solutions for all parts of your business. With these hiring and training practices, your small business will attract and retain the best talent, no matter where they’re located. 

Ben Glaser

Ben Glaser

Ben has almost a decade of experience covering personal finance and business. From 2014–2017, he was blog editor and spokesperson for the shopping website DealNews.com, where he regularly appeared on programs like Good Morning America and Fox and Friends to offer consumer advice. Ben graduated from Harvard with a BA in English and lives in the Hudson Valley of New York.