Prioritizing D&I with Your Remote Hiring Process

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting global economic impact has resulted in a challenging time for hiring. Communication is now virtual, and employers have either halted their hiring efforts, or have had to shift hiring processes to meet new expectations. Many employers are also looking at their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices, with diverse hiring on their list of practices to assess and improve. Studies show that women and people of color are losing jobs due to COVID-19 at a disproportionate rate, research has long shown that people of color get hired at lower rates, and older age is considered a competitive disadvantage. However, there are many things that can be done during this time to prioritize diversity even while hiring remotely. This week’s newsletter is dedicated to offering tips for how to adapt or improve the process of diverse and remote hiring.

Diverse hiring uses procedures that ensure that the hiring process is free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance. Many U.S organizations follow the Federal EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) guidelines, however, potential biases in sourcing, screening, and shortlisting candidates that ignore, turn off, or accidentally discriminate against qualified, diverse candidates likely still exist. 

Tips to Manage Bias During the Sourcing and Resume Screening Process:

Sourcing: If you continue to rely on the sourcing channels you know best, it can result in a talent pool that lacks diversity. Sourcing from unconventional places like Meetup, Slack, Reddit and Facebook Groups to connect with a wider range of candidates can be a place to start. Beyond those types of online channels, engage remotely with community partners, organizations, or schools as a way to reach a more diverse pool of qualified candidates. Share open positions with these entities, and consider participating in virtual career fairs.

Job Description Writing: Something minor in your job description—like a single word—can affect whether or not you are attracting a diverse talent pool. For example, avoid gender-coded words, like “rockstar,” “ninja,” and “dominate”, and corporate jargon that a candidate may not be familiar with. Alternative words may have less flair, but they’re also more inclusive and less likely to turn off candidates who feel they don’t fit the image you’re putting out. Studies show that while men are likely to apply to jobs for which they meet only 60% of the qualifications, women are much more likely to hesitate unless they meet 100% of the listed requirements.  This informs the next suggestion of: only include the “must-haves” for a position, and steer clear of the “nice-to-haves”. If you want to call out a specific skill, try language like “familiarity with,” “bonus points for,” or “if you have any combination of these skills.” Lastly,  if your company is making strides toward becoming a more inclusive workplace, consider including this at the bottom of the job description. While many employers will simply state that they are an “equal opportunity employer”, giving examples of programs in place addressing diversity and inclusion is very powerful. 

Resume Screening: Bias also surfaces during the resume screening process, which can result in writing off well-qualified candidates based on a name, a college attended, or an address. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that resumes with White-sounding names receive 30 percent more interviews than identical resumes with African American names, and resumes with old-sounding names were rated as less suitable for the job compared to identical resumes with modern-sounding names. Blind hiring has become common as a way to combat bias during the resume screening process if the resources to do so are available. Blind hiring has shown to increase workplace diversity by allowing recruiters and hiring managers to be more objective when evaluating a candidate’s skills, knowledge, and potential to succeed. One component of blind hiring includes removing a candidates’ name and photo from their resumes, and online profiles. Other personal information that’s being removed from resumes is information that could reveal a candidate’s age or even income level, such as their graduation year.

Conducting Remote Interviews:

For many, remote interviewing is a whole new world with more logistics to consider, but successful virtual interviews help build trust between a company and a candidate. Making sure tech is working properly is just one piece of the puzzle, though. For remote interviews, set and communicate expectations to the candidate regarding the interview process including how it will be structured, how long it will take, who they will meet, and how communication post-interview will occur. So, what does “good video etiquette” look like? Listen more than you speak, and ask all of the questions you need to ask, but allow the conversation to flow and unfold naturally. Allow time for the candidate to ask their own questions and if there is a time constraint, follow up with the candidate to get their questions addressed. While on camera, maintain eye contact and give your full attention to whomever your interviewing. Be aware that your body language is more obvious in a virtual environment, and candidates are paying attention to whether or not you’re paying attention to them. Choose a quiet and distraction free setting to conduct the virtual interview and dress professionally! Involving more than one person in the interview and decision making process is also an effective way to reduce or avoid unconscious bias in the hiring process.

To improve the remote interview experience, it’s important to prepare questions you will be asking candidates, but it is a two way street and being prepared to answer any of the following questions from candidates will allow for some really great conversation. Some key questions for hiring managers to prepare for interviews, whether in-person or remote, include:

  • Could you explain the company’s organizational structure
  • What’s the company’s plan for the near future, and how does your department fit into that plan, specifically this role?
  • Will you be expanding or bringing on new products/services?
  • What are some problems?
  • What major skills and abilities will I need to be able to succeed in this job? 
  • What attracted you to working for this organization? 
  • How will my responsibilities and performance be measured?
  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities that I will be assigned?

The Candidate Experience:

The candidate experience, which is the perception of a job seeker about an employer based on interactions during the complete recruitment process is important. According to GoCoach, 70% of candidates never hear back from a company after submitting an application, 60% have gone for interviews but never heard back from an employer, 42% of disgruntled candidates will not apply for another position at that company, and 22% will tell others not to apply to that company, with 9% even telling others to boycott their products. Poor candidate experiences can result in the loss of a customer(s). Some ways to ensure a positive candidate experience, both in-person and virtually, include:

  • Ensure you’re hiring for a position that is needed today, and six months from now.
  • Write a clear job description that focuses on outputs and role
  • Make it easy and user-friendly for candidates to apply
  • Follow up early and often, and communicate and thank candidates during each step of the process
  • Don’t ghost. If you’re no longer considering a candidate, let them know as soon as possible
  • Be open to giving and receiving feedback from candidates whether or not they were hired. Conducting candidate surveys to obtain feedback can be helpful to improving your process. Let candidates know up front that there will be a survey, consider offering a small incentive (gift card, discount code, etc), keep the survey brief, keep questions succinct, measure experience and avoid irrelevant questions, leave space for them to make open comments, and keep it anonymous. 

Remote Onboarding:

Employees who are hired remotely don’t experience in-person introductions or get to enjoy the benefit of in-office interactions that are key in creating a foundation of belonging during on-boarding. This makes the task of ensuring that new hires feel welcomed and like a part of the team that much more important. Both managers and team members play a vital role in new hire’s first days and weeks, and requires all to be intentional and proactive in doing so. 

  • Reach out at least a week in advanced before their start date to welcome them to the team, consider sending a welcome package in the mail with a note
  • Work with the new hire to make sure they have their tech set up, and connect them with IT or operations and anyone else who may be involved in ensuring they are correctly connected to necessary databases, folders, etc. 
  • Digitize all existing employee documentation, ie: employee handbook 
  • Help team members and the new hire get acquainted. Host a virtual team breakfast or lunch to welcome the new employee and give the employee a chance to meet everyone.
  • Managers should schedule daily check-ins for the first week or so. Telecommuting can be a challenge, especially for those used to working in an office setting. Managers need to make sure new virtual hires can hit the ground running, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and provide opportunities for questions and feedback. Remote employees who feel connected to their team and organization are more motivated to make positive, tangible contributions. 
  • Consider assigning a peer/ co-working mentor who they can go to with any questions and grow and learn together. According to Human Capital Institute, 87 percent of organizations that assign an ambassador or buddy program during the on-boarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency.

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