Thought Leadership

Remote recruitment: Five tips to virtually onboard new starters

COVID-19 and the ongoing effect it is having on remote and home working has meant that we’re approaching things in new ways. 

Despite many people worrying about long-term job security, there are still many companies that are recruiting or onboarding new starters, and they are having to think outside the box when it comes to interviews, inductions and, of course, welcoming them into their businesses. 

In partnership with recruitment firm SmartSearch, we’ve pulled together some top tips to bear in mind when bringing on new recruits in the current climate. 

So, let’s start at the beginning. You’ve identified you need a new team member, and you’ve shortlisted a handful of people to interview…

1. Consider your recruitment process

Pre COVID-19, video interviewing was gaining real traction in the recruitment world as employers were realising the benefits that this technology brings: reducing costs and time to hire, streamlining the recruitment process and delivering a positive candidate experience. In today’s climate, however, video interviewing technology has become essential.

There are two main types of video interviews:

  • Solo interviews: the candidate logs in to a portal at a time that suits them, to pre-record their answers to interview questions. Solo interviews are great when it comes to drawing up a shortlist for the second stage of interviews.

  • Live video interviews: The candidate is live interviewed by the hiring manager (s) in a virtual meeting room environment as an alternative to the traditional face to face interview.

Whatever route you choose, it’s important to use a tried and tested conferencing service when conducting remote interviews. Interviews can be stressful enough without the video or sound cutting out every five minutes, so use something that you know works well when communicating with people external to your own company. 

If you do run into technical issues, it is advisable to communicate a backup plan to the interviewee. For example, if the video conferencing cuts out, there is an alternative conference call number, and you will ring the candidate. That way, everyone knows where they stand, and no time is wasted. 

2. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail

The assumption may be that the interviewees will be the ones to have trouble connecting or getting into the virtual meeting room on time, but the interviewers can also often encounter similar problems. 

To help avoid this, it’s worth checking that the room you’re interviewing from has good sound quality and a strong Wi-Fi connection to avoid any awkward buffering, and make sure the candidate has the meeting room details, time and relevant links well ahead of time. If there is more than one of you on the interviewing panel, it is worth practising how you will each connect to your chosen conferencing platform and you should ensure everyone is ready before inviting the candidate into “the room”. Don’t leave them waiting in the meeting lobby for too long!  This will allow for minimal disruptions and distractions for the interviewee, replicating an in-person interview as closely as possible. 

The above steps will help you in selecting your new recruit, but now you need to have a solid plan in place for onboarding them…

3. Consider your chosen IT hardware/software

When someone new starts a new job, they usually have a couple of weeks during which they can get to know everyone and get comfortable in their new environment. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible when recruiting people remotely, and the odds are that you won’t know when you’ll meet your new colleague in person. That’s why it’s important to have everything in place to make this transition as seamless as possible. 

It’s worth setting up a time to talk through your chosen IT software with your new recruit to ensure they fully understand how everything works. Send over their new laptop/PC and any accompanying equipment in plenty of time so that they can familiarise themselves with it and set up their new home office. 

It is also beneficial to do a walk-through with your new employee to ensure they understand their new IT software. Be aware that this may be a suite of tools that they haven’t used before, so setting up online training on their first few days is a must. 

4. ‘Stay alert’ 

Unfortunately, cyber criminals are still operating by preying on current anxieties and concerns. That means it’s more important than ever to be aware of potential data and security breaches. When taking on a new recruit, it’s crucial that you communicate the process for escalating concerns around this, so that no one is subject to a cyberattack. 

This could include video training as part of their official induction, or a video call with your IT department or Head of Compliance to convey the importance of this and explain how to handle it if such a situation occurs.

5. Stay in touch 

Currently, swivelling your chair around to chat to the person behind you, or calling someone into the boardroom for a quick catch up isn’t possible. That’s why you must make an effort to stay in touch with your newest recruits. 

Hubstaff can be a good way of monitoring activity when your team is working remotely, and allows managers to monitor productivity.  Added features also include online timesheets, GPS tracking, reporting and team scheduling.

Instant messaging can be really helpful for helping people stay in touch, particularly if there is some reluctance to using video calling. As Microsoft Silver Partners, we are advocates of the Microsoft Office suite of tools, and Microsoft Teams has a whole host of abilities to make home-working that bit easier. This includes an instant messaging service that allows you to have one to one or group messages and makes staying in touch almost as easy as turning your chair around! 

While it can be tricky at the moment, it’s more important than ever to stay in touch with your new staff members and ensure everything is running as smoothly as possible. Adding a new starter into the mix can be tricky, but by bearing in mind the simple steps outlined above, hopefully your newest recruit will feel confident, comfortable and happy in their new role. 

If you need any advice on cloud-based IT services, one of our team would be more than happy to help via and for advice or support on recruitment, please contact