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Remote Recruiting - Have You Implemented These Five D&I Best Practices Yet?

How does hiring change now that companies have shifted to remote work? Most companies have either been forced to put hiring on hold or have started to adapt their recruiting processes online. This set-up has been new for many, both interviewers and interviewees, which in the worst case can lead to possible confusion, bad candidate experiences, and biased hiring decisions.

Decreasing biases in recruiting processes are hugely important in order for your organization to hire the best people and the settings of remote work have brought new aspects that need to be taken into consideration. Diverse teams have a direct benefit on your business performance, but without proper planning you might unknowingly limit your capabilities of attracting diverse talent. To make sure you’re making the right hiring decisions, adapt these five D&I best practices in your remote hiring.

1. Minimize hiring-bias by building consistent and structured recruiting process

Humans tend to make decisions that are affected by biases, learned stereotypes that are automatic and unintentional that can influence behaviour and decision-making. This causes us to make decisions that are in favor of specific people or groups. To minimize biases, it’s crucial to have structure and consistency throughout recruitment processes. Unstructured interviews leave room for certain types of people, e.g. talkative and self-confident, to shine, even if those attributes wouldn’t define in job success.

The key is to replicate the circumstances as similar to each candidate as possible so that you can evaluate everyone objectively and fairly

Typically minimizing bias in hiring starts from defining a job criteria, evaluation rubric, and a set of questions that is used with each candidate.

Building a structured process does not automatically mean that you need to have a heavy and time-consuming process, but rather deciding on an approach and sticking to it. The less you leave room for free-styling and variety, the less you’re predisposing yourself to making biased decisions. Let’s take a remote work example to illustrate this: If you typically interview all candidates at your office, you’re left with different options and might interview some people via a video call or through phone. This alone makes a huge difference in your approach with candidates, making you want to consider which approach to stick to in each stage.

2. Create well-aligned and inclusive job descriptions and distribute them widely

Without exceptions, every new role needs a well-aligned job description. Without a proper job description and set criteria, you’re letting yourself assess candidates based on what you think is relevant for the role. This can lead to everyone involved in hiring, including the candidate, having a different understanding of the role and making biased decisions. You might end up assessing a personality, similarity, or likeability of a person, rather than their skills, experience and shared values.

Our own networks tend to be more narrow and limited than we give credit, so when your job description is ready, consider how it will reach a diverse pool of candidates and make them aware of this new opportunity. If you only source candidates from your own network, the pool might be very limited and include only certain types of people - clones of you or people you want to spend your free-time with. When you are marketing your openings externally and/or internally, consider the channels and whether they are reaching a wide enough audience. This is even more important now when the only way to hear about openings might be through online channels. Even if you already have a great candidate in mind from your organization, consider leaving the application open for anyone in your organization, or maybe even outside of it, to apply. An open and fair process might end up surprising you by choosing a person who you did not even think of in the first place.

3. Choose a diverse hiring committee and minimize room for group thinking

Having a diverse interview committee chosen for each role, supports the consideration of different viewpoints and making right hiring decisions. This ensures that hiring decisions are not left solely to one person and that candidates are not making their decisions based on meeting only one person virtually. Diverse interview committees give the interviewee a chance to get familiar with their possible future team. Make sure that each interviewer needs to submit their evaluation against the set criteria and that they do it without seeing each other's answers before submitting their own. This allows us to not fall into the trap of group thinking, in other words, basing our decisions on what others think.

4. Manage expectations and focus on extra communications

There is no "normal" in remote recruiting for the majority of people.

People don't know what to expect, and clarity, communications, and managing expectations play a crucial role in building an inclusive recruiting process.

Explain to your candidates how your remote recruiting process works and communicate before, during, and after any interviews and steps more than you would usually do. There is no over-communication in this. Before the interview, let candidates know which tools will be used (video or audio) and check-in to see if they have any questions beforehand. This way you can also relieve some possible tension in advance and ensure your judgment will not be based on their comfort level of using a specific software that they might not be familiar with before.

5. Respect variety of circumstances and actively build inclusivity

People have a variety of circumstances while working remotely, including aspects that you might not even think of. Showing empathy, providing extra flexibility, and being open are great ways to advance inclusion in your hiring. For example, when you schedule interview times, consider asking: What time would work for you? This might give an option to your candidate to take a call when a baby is taking a nap, making a huge difference for them. Uncertain times can also affect your candidates lives in many ways and it can be a high threshold to make a career move now. Consider throughout your recruitment process how you can actively build an environment where they can ask questions to make sure any concerns can be discussed and that you’re not limiting yourself on hiring any potential talent.

All in all, here is a summary of key takeaways that you should keep in mind:

Finally, it’s good to proactively seek feedback. Everyone is re-defining their ways of working, and the candidates are your best source of information to let you know how you're doing and in what areas can you improve.

Author: Julia Hämäläinen, COO at Inklusiiv Julia has previously worked as the Global HR Operations Lead at Smartly.io, Investor at Wave Ventures and the Chief People Officer of Slush. She also has a passion for consulting early-stage startups to grow and scale.

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