Is it Safe to Hire Someone You’ve Never Met?

Is it Safe to Hire Someone You’ve Never Met?

The rise of technology has enabled us to work from anywhere, at any time, for a company based anywhere in the world. Particularly post COVID-19, our jobs are moving increasingly online, and this shift into digital ways of working extends heavily into recruitment. The BBC reports that in 2012, only about 10% of businesses had adopted any form of online interviewing, but as technology improved more businesses began to adapt their approach. In recent history we have seen a sharp rise in at least one stage of the recruitment process taking place via online video services such as Skype, Zoom and WhatsApp, and this trend has only been accelerated due to COVID-19.

Between roles shifting out of offices, the rise of home working, and constantly evolving social distancing measures, it is now becoming a regular occurrence to conduct the recruitment process entirely online, without having ever met the candidates. The question is, how safe is hiring someone online, and how can you as an employer mitigate the risk? We’ve created a 4-stage process designed to keep you safe when hiring someone you’ve never met.

Stage 1 - Have a phone introduction

If you think a candidate looks good on paper, it’s time to get the ball rolling on the first stage of the recruitment process. Pick up the phone and give them a call! Calling without warning will catch your candidate off guard and is likely to give you a glimpse into their honest self. From there you can have an informal chat to find out more about their skills and experience and find out if they would be a good fit for the role. If you feel they would be and they sound excited about the role, you can be confident in progressing them to the second stage of the recruitment process.

Stage 2 - Conduct a video interview

This next stage is one of the most common, yet important steps to online recruitment. Video interviews are simple to set up, and the bonus is that they are much more flexible to organise compared with an in-person meeting. It is your best opportunity to assess how your candidate would fit the role, get on with the team, and what they bring to the table that the other candidates don’t. You may wish to set the candidate a task to complete in time for the interview, to get an idea of their work as well as assessing their communication skills in presenting it back to you.

Aside from their suitability to the role, try to ask questions which allow you to understand their working style, their strengths and weaknesses, their ability to work within a team (if they would be doing so in the role), and their general personality.

This is also the closest you can get to conducting a physical interview, online, and is the only step in an online recruitment process that enables you to assess your candidate’s body language. People Scout discuss the importance of body language in interviews, commenting that it enables interviewers to judge how open, positive, and confident a candidate is.  So, pay attention not just to what they say. Are they dressed professionally? Do they keep interrupting you? Are they being open and honest or closed off and uninterested? These are all things that can score them points or lose them the role.

You should bear in mind, however, that video interviews are stressful for candidates. Being conducted from home, it may be hard to ensure they are in a quiet and professional environment, and there is the added possibility of technical issues. They may have children at home, a lack of space or may even not own the equipment required to attend a video interview. It is important not to discriminate against a candidate for these factors which are out of their control and seek a different solution if a video interview simply isn’t possible, such as an extended telephone interview.

Stage 3 - Get the team involved

Part of the risk involved in hiring is the need to preserve and improve the company culture, and virtually it can be difficult to assess if your candidate will be good cultural fit within the team. The best way to do that is to get the team involved in the hiring process.

A possible option for a final phase of the recruitment process is to have an informal group video call which involves members of the team the candidate would be directly working with. This allows everyone to get to know the candidate and may also help your candidate feel at ease. If everyone gets on like a house on fire, that’s great! They would probably be a great fit. If there is some friction, possibly this candidate isn’t a good match for the team.

Stage 4 - Conduct pre-employment screening

Once you have found the candidate you feel is perfect for the role, there’s one final, crucial step in the recruitment process. Conducting proper background checks on new employees can prevent untrustworthy individuals from putting you at risk. Depending on your industry and the seniority of the role in question, there’s a whole list of screening checks that can be carried out on your candidate. These include right to work, criminal record, credit, social media, qualification, and reference checks.

As experts in pre-employment screening, we are here to help minimise your risk and ensure your workforce, whatever the size, remains compliant. Get in touch to discuss your needs, and we can help to create a bespoke package of screening checks. Or choose from our pay-per-candidate screening packages to get started now.

Are there any benefits to hiring remotely?

Of course! Since candidates don’t need to travel to you, a fully remote recruitment process can actually save your business money on allowances for candidate travel and interview arrangements. It can also be a much faster process which can not only make your recruitment more efficient, but actually result in a better hire as if you move slowly, the best candidates may get snapped up by your competitors. It is a more flexible process which can slot into everyone’s schedule, and can be carried out from your own home, should you be home working.

In truth, provided you undertake the essential pre-employment screening checks and get to know your candidate before they join the team, hiring someone online is no riskier than hiring in person.