Communication in Virtual Recruiting: What is a red flag?

Based on a Monster Survey, after the COVID peak, almost 95% of workers are thinking of changing jobs. So how has virtual recruiting changed? And would must recruiters consider to succeed in virtual recruiting? One of the key aspects is understanding and using virtual communication.

For a very long time candidates have been under a lot of pressure when having an interview. Companies were in control and hiring managers had the power to decide a person’s future based on not very objective criteria. Over the past few years, this has dramatically changed, putting Candidate Experience and Employer Branding as top priorities for any Talent Acquisition strategy. IT and Digital profiles have become the hardest talent to attract and are the most in-demand profiles worldwide. Reality shows that around 48% of IT candidates drop out of a hiring process due to interview scheduling frustrations, according to HRDive. 

It’s important to remember that now candidates are “interviewing” employers as well, and are looking out for red flags just as talent seekers are. Making a great first impression comes with many more challenges when virtually recruiting. The process of finding the right candidate can be long and frustrating, even more so when they drop out. When it comes to in-person hiring, potential candidates can get a real feel for the company and its culture from the office environment. When this is virtual it’s all down to you. This is why communication in virtual recruiting is crucial. The first impression you give is theirs of your company and key in giving a positive candidate experience.

Tips on how to make a great first impression (and what to avoid when interviewing)

It’s a no-brainer that Candidate Experience (and communication) is vital when building a great team but it’s even more challenging if you want to build an exceptional, distributed one. When it comes to the day-to-day interviewing experience there are a lot of basic tips on how to make a great first impression and what to avoid when interviewing.

For candidates and recent graduates:

It’s important to treat it as you would an in-person interview. We recommend these essentials to make a great first impression:

  1. Be on time.
  2. Look professional or neutral (meaning don’t turn up to your video call interview wearing your beachwear).
  3. Follow basic meeting etiquette (quiet environment, good lighting, correct camera angle, etc).
  4. Dive deep into the company website – this will show your genuine interest in the company.
  5. Research the interviewer, and look at their LinkedIn profile to know who you will be talking to.

For interviewers:

  1. Follow the same basic rules you expect from candidates (see above).
  2. Avoid virtual backgrounds. They make you look two-dimensional and less human. The logo of the company behind you does not constitute employer branding. Opt for neutral, or if you can, interesting looking, if you are working from home.
  3. Be human. Share something personal (yet appropriate). Warming up is especially important on a video call and a key element to make the candidate feel welcome and connected. Think about how you would offer a coffee at the office, walk them around, etc. Even if it’s “just a first screening”, you are now the first human touchpoint.
  4. Consider sharing insight to the team or company culture. An easy way way to do this is to do a quick screen share of a workspace showing the teams (without revealing internal data of course). Use Muzzle or something similar to silence notifications.

Making the right judgment: Pay attention to biases in virtual communication

When assessing candidates, it’s critical to avoid biases. Biases cause the unconscious judgment of a candidate with unspoken criteria. Since virtual communication reduces the amount of information we receive from the other party, biases can appear more easily. Watch out for these biases in your hiring process: 

  1. “Similar to me”: This bias refers to the fact that we get along with people who tend to look and think like we do. So we end up choosing those people with whom we feel identified. Which also has a negative effect on diversity and inclusion efforts.
  2. “Gut feeling”: This bias is when you make a hiring decision based on your instant judgments, often subconscious ones. Instead of using an objective evaluation system.
  3. “Cultural Noise”: This bias is very relevant for international virtual recruitment. It refers to the communication barriers between different cultures including differences in language, manners, values, non‐verbal cues, etc.
  4. “Horn Effect”: this happens when the interviewer forms a quick negative judgement about the person based on one characteristic that he/she doesn’t like. They see the candidate’s behaviour and answers in a negative light, with no actual relation with the ability of the candidate to do the job.
  5. “Halo effect”: This happens when the interviewer identifies one good fact about the candidate during the interview,  which overshadows everything else the candidate says.
  6. Amongst many others.

These not only decrease the assessment level but also create a poor candidate experience. (Here’s a great read recommendation that reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions).

But aside from biases, what else influences the quality of the virtual interview process?

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Should we be looking more closely at what is not usually discussed openly?

For what reasons might you reject a candidate and vice versa? Sometimes it seems obvious what’s acceptable and what’s not during an interview process. However, after more than a decade of talking to candidates and hiring managers, it’s not so strange to hear stories that make you wonder, do we all share the same standards? How does this affect virtual international recruiting? What is a red flag?

Are some of these “rejection reasons” really a red flag or have our cultural biases affected our judgement?

Attention: We are always communicating!

In a virtual context, you can only see very little of the person, the screen is what you have. It’s essential to understand that everything we do and the way we do it sends a message. It’s important to remember that there is someone making an interpretation of that message. 

As a job seeker, you have to set your story straight, be clear about your expectations and priorities. Pay attention to small things. 

  • Some interviewers might not consider you polite if you eat, drink or smoke while talking to them. Yes, even if it’s an online interview. 
  • Wait until the end of the question before you start answering. This is especially important on video calls. You might be perceived as anxious, not mature enough or someone that can’t listen correctly. 

From the talent seeker perspective, sharing the company spirit online can be very challenging! 

How can the Candidate Experience show the essence of your company in a realistic and engaging way? You cannot rely on giving them a tour of your cool office or taking them out for lunch to make a great impression. But you can work with different tools to communicate your company values and make the process smoother. Small things like a personalised email, easy scheduling, and having a creative way to introduce the future colleagues and company spirit can go a long way. 

Everything is communication! If alarm bells are ringing you might wanna check what message you are sending. Make sure your message is aligned with how you want to be perceived, whether that is to your candidates or to the company that is interviewing you.

At acework, we enable businesses to build their successful distributed workforce. We can help you find and hire experienced professionals looking for flexible career opportunities. Our advisory creates actionable strategies for companies based on their culture, processes, and business needs. Schedule a free strategy session to start building your high performing diverse and distributed team.

If you are a candidate looking for work, don’t forget to visit our job board and save it to your favourites. We regularly post new roles there.

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