You’re ready to hire your next remote worker—great! Problem is that you receive a deluge of applications filled with some good (and not-so-good) candidates. How do you get through all of them to find the best fit for your distributed team?
By now, you should have already prepared to hire your next remote employee by writing the job description, posting the position, and selecting a hiring committee. If you haven’t done so yet, get those tasks done first.
Now that you know exactly what you’re hiring for, let’s go over the application process.
In order to bring in applicants, you need to decide on the best approach for receiving applications and set that up. Once those applications start coming in, you’ll need to be prepared to screen the applicants and decide on what to do with the folks who aren’t selected to move on to the interview phase.
Step 1: Create the Application
In order for candidates to apply for your open position, you need to decide on how you want that to happen. There are a lot of ways you can go about this, including the old fashioned “send in a cover letter and a resume.” However, considering the number of applications you’re likely to receive, email may not be a feasible way of managing them.
Another approach is to set up a Google Form, which allows you to ask tailored questions to get the information you need up front. Some companies even use more detailed application management systems, which you can find online and test out if something like that is within your budget. However you choose to have the applications submitted, you will need to be prepared to filter the applicants in a way that’s reasonable (for you) and fair (for the applicant).
With remote work, the human element can so easily (and so frequently) get lost. Your “office” is a laptop and your “staff” is a collage of avatars. The applications you receive are a bunch of names and profiles. It’s important to remember that the people applying for your job are real people who are putting themselves out there, and they deserve your respect and attention. One of our favorite ways of humanizing the application process is to ask the candidate to submit a short introduction video with their application. This helps us get to know the candidate a little more personally and evaluate them for a number of things, including:
- Technical skills — whether or not they’re able to record and upload a private video.
- Professionalism — the clarity of their video (visual and audible) and attention to detail.
- Personality — whether or not they would be a good match for the company culture.
If you’re asking applicants for an incoming video, it’s also a good idea to share an outgoing video. This helps set the expectations of what you’re looking for and more clearly articulates your team culture. It also gives you a chance to personally explain the job and why the applicant might be interested in it.
Step 2: Screen for Deal-Breakers
Here at Yonder, we believe that the problem with traditional application questions is the time that’s wasted (for both the applicant and the committee) gathering unnecessary information. How in the world is the name and location of the applicant’s high school relevant to your decision? Do you really have the time to read 300 writing samples? Do you need the applicant’s full home address right now if you would be getting it on their W2 during onboarding anyway? Save time for everyone involved by only asking “deal breaker” questions that help you decide whether or not the applicant will move on to the next stage of candidacy.
In order to do that, you need to decide what your “deal breaker” questions should be. Revisit your job description — what did you list as your “deal breakers” for the role? There’s your answer.
If an applicant doesn’t have what you need, it’s a deal-breaker. Eliminate them from the pool of applicants. Filtering out as many applicants as possible early in the hiring process will result in a better use of everyone’s time and energy going forward. It will also allow you to evaluate the final candidates more meticulously, ensuring that you get the best match possible for the role.
Step 3: Repurpose Unselected Applicants
As you are eliminating applicants from the pool, stay alert. This is the phase where the two most common and damaging mistakes of the hiring process are made. And these mistakes don’t just hurt the new hire: they hurt your company.
Mistake #1 is rejecting unqualified applicants.
Mistake #2 is ignoring unqualified applicants.
You might be thinking, “If the applicant isn’t going to fill the open position, they’re of no use to me, right?” Wrong.
Take off your HR goggles for just a second, and replace them with a pair of marketing specs. Does your marketing team work day-in and day-out to drive eyes to your site? Guess what? You just did that. You drove hundreds of eyes to your site! If you reject candidates after they apply or send them a disheartening “We’re sorry, but another candidate has been selected” message, or don’t bother to follow up with them at all, you are throwing away an incredibly valuable marketing opportunity.
Collaborate with your marketing team and get creative about how to transition these unselected applicants into a valuable audience! Here at Yonder, our rejection letter explains why the candidate is still an appreciated member of our community and provides a list of links to help them stay connected with us.
In addition to turning applicants into members of your community, you should be looking at applicants with other roles in mind. If you have identified other roles that you want to fill in the company but haven’t yet posted them, screen the current applicants for those roles or let them know about opportunities that will be coming up in the near future. This makes a “rejection” feel more like an open invitation to come back and apply again when there’s a position that’s a better fit. It also shows the candidate that you’re paying attention and that you care.
You’re now ready to create the application, include a recommended video application, screen applicants and repurpose the applicants who aren’t selected to move forward. Then, it's time to move forward with the interview process. Let us know how it goes!
Have you hired a remote employee lately? Do you have any tips to share about how to screen job applicants? Tweet us @yonder_io to share your perspective!