The #1 mistake that makes remote hiring so difficult

The #1 mistake that makes remote hiring so difficult

“Oh no, not another blog post about remote hiring”.

I know, we’re in a pandemic for over a year now, so you must have read tons of remote hiring guides by now.

2020 has been a year in which we all had to adapt to a new normal faster than we could have ever imagined. And with most people still working from home, transitioning the hiring process to an online experience was one of those adaptions. What I experienced myself as a founder over the past year, is that we had to focus so much on changing processes and working methods as quickly as possible, that we now for the first time have some head space left to think about certain processes we have changed. Not only how we did it, but also why we did it and what challenges will arise with the implementation these changes. I firmly believe that preventing pitfalls can only be achieved when being aware of them.

Remote hiring knows many pitfalls, just like every other process. However, there’s one challenge that stands out, which made ‘normal hiring’ already difficult, and remote hiring extremely difficult. Our unconscious bias. In this blog I explain why, as well as how to prevent yourself from letting your biases make poor hiring decisions in a remote setting.

Know that indescribable feeling you sometimes have when forming an opinion about someone or something?

That’s your gut feeling, your intuition. And it can be your biggest enemy in a hiring setting since gut feeling often leads to bad hires and a less diverse workforce. So how does your gut feeling impact hiring decisions, without already focusing on the remote-component? Well, here’s why.

Impact I. The 7 seconds rule.

Our gut feeling stimulates us to create the first impression of a candidate in just an average of seven seconds. And this first impression is quite tough to get rid of once you have it. Our frame of reference, which is full of bias, is what creates this impression. So your candidates are for at least 50% of the time evaluated based on that first seven seconds. Not the best input for a proper evaluation, isn’t it?

Impact II. Emotions overrule ratio, raising the error margin.

Our gut feeling stimulates emotional behaviour. These first seven seconds I just described are likely to have a significant impact on the job interview with your candidate. It’s like following a decision-tree: Based on your first impression of a candidate, you will either ask question one or question two. And you will either phrase it in way A or way B – leading to a new decision to be made, and so on. 

Normally I’m a huge fan of decision trees, but not in a hiring setting. When not asking all your candidates the same interview questions, your hiring decisions can never be based on a clear, predefined data set – simply because you don’t have the same information about each candidate, as a result of having your bias let take over control of the interview. And ironically enough, it’s then again your biased gut feeling that helps you with filling in the blank spots – the data you haven’t been able to collect during the interview. This leads to either wrongfully rejecting candidates based on your error-sensitive gut feeling, or hiring the wrong candidate based on the information you got out of your emotional, intuition-driven decision tree.

Although I don’t think this information is new to you, I hope it’s another reminder of the fact that gut feeling is never a good sign when it comes to making hiring decisions. 

Why this is even worse in a remote hiring setting.

In a remote hiring setting, the 7 seconds rule and emotions- taking-over-rationality situation is still happening. Unfortunately, now it’s even worse, because not being able to physically meet a candidate, allowing you to include non-verbal communication into your 7-seconds-evaluation formula, forces you to create this first impression on even less input.  

This means that where normally your gut feeling will likely lead to overconfidence, in remote hiring setting this minimised amount of ‘input’ to base your first impression on will likely lead to insecurity. So now we have a biased gut feeling, strengthened by insecurity, stimulating your biased gut feeling even more. The result: Biased, and therefore often poor hiring decisions. 

Data as a replacement for your gut feeling. 

I can’t say this enough since I’m a huge fan of this proven statement: Data beats gut feeling in hiring. Research has even shown that hiring decisions based on data are at least 25% better than purely human input

So data is extremely helpful in hiring, especially when it comes to remote hiring where virtual contact makes it harder to ‘predict’ job fit and cultural fit through human judgement. Here’s why:

  1. It’s consistent;
  2. It’s complete;
  3. It doesn’t have a subjective opinion.

The best way to collect sufficient data during this remote hiring process is by introducing pre-employment assessments

How and when to include data in your remote hiring process.

How: Assessments

Well, I would say by introducing pre-employment assessments (or pre-hire assessments): tests/tools you can use to assess and compare different candidates. The focus of these assessments can range from personality and cultural fit to cognitive skills and intelligence. All with one goal: Getting to know your candidates and their fit with your job and company culture.

Here at Equalture, we make use of neuro-assessment games. These are short, interactive games to play for a candidate, allowing to collect crucial information about their skills and personality, which indicate job fit and cultural fit. Here you can read why we choose for gamified assessment instead of traditional assessments

Want to try out one of our games yourself?

Click here to start →

When: At the start of your hiring process

The sooner you include the use of data in a hiring procedure, the better. As this first impression is highly important in hiring, why not let data do the talking and help you create this first impression? 

Especially in a remote hiring situation, I would love to see all candidates complete your pre-employment assessments. Here at Equalture, we allow our clients to do so by integrating our tool with their career sites so that, once a candidates hits the apply-button, (s)he is sent to our platform where the actual job application starts. Applying with LinkedIn makes it easy for them to finish the ‘resume-part’ fast, and they can move on to games that I discussed earlier.

By introducing these assessments during the very first contact point with a candidate, you have the exact same information for each candidate to base your first impression on. And moreover, the right information to create a proper first impression

Another nice consequence of introducing assessments earlier in the process is that you will more quickly and easily find out which candidates to focus on. This allows you to spend more time on your highest-potential candidates.

So by implementing some kind of pre-employment assessment as early as possible in the process, you will save yourself a lot of hassle later on. And even more important: you can more efficiently hire the greatest candidates by creating the right first impression. There are also a lot of free assessments out there in case your company has no budget for tooling now, so budget is not an excuse here! 😉

Good luck with your remote hiring practices and feel free to reach out to me to have a chat about remote hiring. Happy to help!

Cheers, Charlotte
Co-Founder & CEO

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