3 skills hiring managers are looking for in remote job candidates
- As more businesses consider operating remotely for the foreseeable future, they're also looking for new skillsets in job candidates.
- Business Insider spoke with recruiting executives on what hiring managers are looking for in remote candidates, and what candidates can do to excel in a remote interview.
- Some of their best advice? Get familiar with online conferencing platforms, show initiative in communicating remotely, and don't shy away from talking about the circumstances brought about by the pandemic.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought major changes to the future of work as we know it, starting with the hiring process.
As interviews shift from office buildings to online conferencing applications, it's not only the interview platform that has changed since the pandemic shut down office buildings in March. Recruiters are also beginning to seek out new skills in remote candidates.
"The whole process of hiring and finding candidates reflects a whole new evaluation of the world that we're living in right now," Laura Sapp, head of talent at American holding company IAC, previously told Business Insider.
While you won't have to worry about a limp handshake in an online interview, you might have to consider the intricacies of making "eye contact" with your computer camera — a skill that, while awkward to master, can help improve your odds of making a good first impression with prospective employers.
And these aren't just makeshift interview measures to consider — for many companies, remote hiring and working practices will be here to stay after 2020. In July, Google announced that its workforce would be working from home until July 2021. Tobi Lutke, Shopify's founder and CEO, announced that the Canadian e-commerce company is keeping offices closed until 2021, at which point most of the company's staff will continue to work remotely. "Office centricity is over," Lutke tweeted in May.
As other companies follow suit and hiring goes remote in the long term, the way job candidates approach the hiring process will also have to undergo major changes. Business Insider spoke with recruiting executives on the qualities that can help remote job candidates stand out to hiring managers in the age of remote recruiting.
Familiarity with online conferencing platforms
It may seem like obvious advice, but when a 13-inch screen is the only thing connecting you and the hiring manager, it's crucial to make sure you've mastered the art of presenting yourself over remote interviewing platforms.
"They are absolutely a necessity in today's day and age," Claudia Johnson, vice president of internal recruiting at professional service Addison Group, said. "Whether we come back to full capacity at the office or not, we still need to have the ability to reach out and communicate virtually."
Look for a quiet, well-lit space, ideally with natural lighting and a background that won't distract from yourself. If you've never used the call platform before, it can also help to run a test call with the help of a friend or family member.
And while you might not have to dress as formally as you would for an in-person interview, it never hurts to attend to your appearance. "You don't want to show up with your hair disheveled, or in pajamas," Johnson said. "People tend to think that's acceptable because of the pandemic, but it's not appropriate when you're interviewing for a position."
Active communication skills are important for any working team, but it's especially important to get the hang of remote communication when it's not possible to meet face to face.
Arran Stewart, CEO of recruiting platform Job.com, said that some members of his team might be shy over virtual meetings, but that he still expects them to take the initiative to stay in touch throughout the day. "I'm expecting to see a volume of updates or questions coming through to me. It's impossible to just not communicate and manage to get everything done," Stewart said.
There are ways that job candidates can make strong remote communication skills apparent through the interview process, too. Sapp recommended that job candidates continue to reach out to people at the company for virtual conversations to learn more about the position they are interviewing for. This way, you can develop authentic connections at the company early on, and learn more about what the company values.
Acknowledging the moment
These are, as the opening sentence of every business email reminds us, unprecedented times — so it's fine, even encouraged, to acknowledge that.
Don't be afraid to bring up the pandemic and ask your hiring manager about how they are faring during these times. In fact, according to Johnson, candidates who maintained a human element in the interview actually stood out from their counterparts when interviewing for roles.
"At the end of the day, we're all people. I've been very impressed with candidates who are even just starting out in their careers and really understand the importance of asking how I'm doing," Johnson said. "If you're not comfortable interviewing, you may not think that's appropriate, but it absolutely is in this day and age."
Similarly, Sapp encouraged candidates asking questions about what it might mean to join the company they are interviewing, and how they can be successful in a remote role.
"We want to be able to have open conversations and be honest about what the actual job is going to look like," Sapp said. "Parents are saying, can I split up my workday? The answer is absolutely. Let's make it work and over-communicate about our needs."
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