How to attract, hire & on-board people virtually

How to attract, hire & on-board people virtually

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the dynamics of recruitment forever. And with Gartner Inc. reporting that 88% of organisations worldwide are mandating/encouraging their staff to work from home, it seems remote working is here to stay.

For many organisations, at the start of the pandemic their initial efforts were focused on the tactical requirements of mobilising a remote workforce in order to maintain a certain level of operations. Now, over six months later, there is a need to plan more strategically about how to thrive under these conditions on a longer term basis.

With this in mind, our recent ‘Remote Recruitment’ webinar takes you on a virtual journey from candidate attraction through to onboarding, giving you practical tips on how to evolve your recruitment practices for the new normal. Access the on-demand version or continue reading for a summary of the webinar.



Attracting staff virtually

Gattaca’s Talent Acquisition Manager, Abi Hopkins, who has been involved in attracting hundreds of new hires into our business, kicked off our webinar by talking about the considerations for attracting the best talent, virtually, in the new market conditions.

Before considering what has changed since Coronavirus, Abi spoke about what hasn’t. For example, candidates still carry out their job search and application online, using social media, company websites, Glassdoor and recommendations to gauge an organisation’s suitability. Employers also still post job advertisements on their website/social media and engage internal and/or external recruiters to find talent. Crucially, they still need to showcase their employer brand & culture, stand out from the crowd and respond quickly to applications.

So what has changed? Abi highlighted the following three areas of candidate attraction which now require greater consideration as a result of the influx of remote working:

  1. Market Dynamics: The candidate market has shifted: many more candidates are now actively seeking work, with Totaljobs recently recording a 30% increase in new applicants. This means that companies will need to spend more time assessing applicants and going through desired competencies. However, despite this additional workload, it is important they continue to take the time to reach out to the passive market to ensure they find the talent that will be best suited to their business.
  2. Job Expectations: Candidate and employer expectations about jobs have changed. Most notably, many have become more open to geographical flexibility in the hiring process. No longer should a ’30 mile radius from the office’ define where talent is sourced from, giving both parties more options (as well as more competition). Furthermore, candidates are much more conscious of companies’ ‘organisational purpose’. This was supported by a candidate poll undertaken by Gattaca recently, which showed the top three answers to the question “what are you looking for most in your next employment” to be: somewhere they can make an impact, having the opportunity to work on interesting projects and work-life balance & flexible working.
  3. Speed & Formality: Finally, Abi spoke about how the attraction process has become quicker and less formal. There is a shorter timeline from attraction through to offer and the speed of which we can progress someone’s application to interview has improved, particularly with the introduction of video interviews. Partly due to the speed and nature of communications, virtual attraction has also become much more informal, emotive and transparent.

Hiring staff virtually

Our Remote Recruitment webinar then moved onto the topic of virtual hiring, led by Jack English, who heads up Gattaca’s specialist skills & learning recruitment brand, Alderwood, whose international service offering means they have been involved in virtual hiring processes for many years.

Jack started us off by reminding us of the key difference in the hiring process in the new normal: as employers, we are often no longer able to see a candidate face-to-face, to shake their hand and assess their body language. There will be fewer natural opportunities for ‘small-talk’ before & after interviews, showing candidates around facilities or introducing them to team members.

However, whilst we generally can’t do this now, Jack urged hiring managers to use this as an opportunity to capture the best talent through virtual assessment and outperform their competitors when it comes to candidate experience. There are, after all, a number of benefits associated with video interviewing, including but not limited to removing travel time, quicker scheduling, easy recordings, screen sharing and, most importantly, saving time for all parties involved.

And with Forbes quoting that 89% of employers have moved to virtual assessment, Jack highlighted that the vast majority of employers have now got to grips with the basics of video interviewing. However, one area often overlooked is the structure of the process that is followed for virtual assessments, which Jack argued is critical in order to supplement the lost opportunities for building rapport and trust that naturally occurred in face-to-face assessments. Jack proposed that the lack of face-to-face rapport is a powerful mistake that can be easily avoided, through the introduction of a structured interview process. His suggestion was to deliver a three-tiered process that included:

  1. First stage – “Get to know each other”: a video call with the shortlisted candidates, to informally discuss motivations & drivers, career history and values and culture. The hiring manager should also present the employer value proposition and get the candidate excited about the role and the business.
  2. Second stage – “Interview & assess”: A structured interview process to assess candidate suitability & alignment to your needs, in whatever format normally followed, such as competency-based assessments, behavioural assessments, candidate presentations etc).
  3. Third stage – “Reverse interview”: In the final stage, Jack suggested that companies should invite candidates who have performed well to lead the interview: coming to the hiring manager with questions about the role, business and culture. At this point, managers may wish to invite team member to join the interview, to answer questions and talk about the company. Reverse interviewing is a great technique that adds lots of value to the interview process, especially when you’re missing out on face-to-face contact during the process.

Employers have an opportunity to introduce a new process that not only allows them to get around the barriers of not being about see candidates face-to-face, but actually benefit from this change and outperform the candidate experience provided by their competitors; subsequently enhancing their employer brand and giving them access to the best talent in the market.

On-boarding staff virtually

The final stop on our tour of remote recruitment was that of virtual on-boarding, delivered by our Solutions Director, Ashton Church, who holds overall accountability for driving continuous improvement and innovation with some of Gattaca’s biggest clients.

In the live poll we ran throughout the Remote Recruitment webinar, we asked attendees “What part of your recruitment process do you think will be hardest to adapt to the realities of remote working?”. The overwhelming majority chose on-boarding (63%) as the hardest to adapt to, with 13% choosing hiring and 24% selecting attraction.

Ashton echoed this in his summary of virtual on-boarding; predicting it would be the area that organisations would need to invest the most effort in, in order to update their approach due to Covid-19. He also highlighted its vital importance in helping candidate retention, loyalty, output and engagement.

To highlight how organisations would need to change their approach, Ashton talked through key considerations for each stage of the onboarding process:

  1. Pre-Onboarding: Before their first day, are candidates being supplied the correct equipment to work remotely? In addition, what else should they receive prior to their first day? Have you considered creative solutions for sending your new hires a care package directly to their homes, or any pre-reading material you want them to look at? These crucial experiences prior to starting will help create an important emotional connection with new starters and help mitigate counter-offers and candidate drop-outs.
  2. Orientation: On day one of work, and for the initial period of them joining: what have you planned to get your new starter up to speed (and booked into their diary)? Beyond the typical training and onboarding materials, how will you create a social bond and integrate new hires into your culture? Can you, for example, replace the typical ‘team lunch out’ with virtual lunches, using take-away vouchers or home deliveries?
  3. First assignments: Giving your new starter their first work assignments is important; setting the tone for the role, performance and expectations. Doing this virtually is harder, so starting with smaller projects and ones that involve collaborating with other team members, if possible, will promote engagement with a wider network of colleagues and build a good understanding of culture.
  4. Ongoing support: With an extensive recent study showing that 31% of new hires will leave in the first 6 months, investing your time in creating a holistic ongoing support for your new starter will pay off. Research has also shown that extending the on-boarding process to one year can dramatically increase retention by 25%. Recruiting new hires is time consuming, costly, and can be frustrating, so making the effort to ensure they succeed is important. Managing ongoing engagement and support with new hires is now a different process in a remote-working environment, so it is more important than ever to monitor new starter engagement and retention throughout the first 6-12 months.


We finalised the session by acknowledging that one of the richest topics to explore further is talent acquisition technology and how this impacts the remote recruitment process. Our ‘Talent Tech’ event was hosted on Tuesday 13 October 2020 and is now available to access on-demand, giving participants an opportunity to understand the tech ecosystem of talent acquisition. Access the webinar on-demand, or check out our other events.

Should you wish to discuss any elements of your recruitment process, including how to get the best out of remote attraction, hiring and on-boarding, please feel free to contact one of our solutions experts, or explore our Workforce Solutions

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