9 Purposeful Approaches to Remote Hiring

The candidate experience changes when interviews shift from conference rooms to Zoom rooms.

Written by Michael Hines
Published on Apr. 28, 2022
9 Purposeful Approaches to Remote Hiring
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Director of Talent Acquisition Ben Stehle understands why it’s important for companies like Linus Health’s to take a purposeful approach to remote hiring.

“At the end of the day, candidate experience wins and can be a differentiator in this highly-competitive market,” Stehle said.

At the Boston-based healthtech company, transparency is a big part of the remote hiring process, with candidates given ample information about the business, its leaders and how interviews are structured. The goal is to make candidates feel comfortable doing something that may be uncomfortable; putting their best foot forward and demonstrating their skills virtually.

While these days, just about every tech company offers remote roles, not all of them offer remote hiring experiences that keep candidates informed and feeling supported throughout. Linus Health does, though, as do these eight other Boston tech organizations. 

 

Inside of Rightpoint office
Rightpoint

 

Evan Cobb
Senior Director, People Potential | Global Talent Acquisition • Rightpoint

 

The Rightpoint talent acquisition team has a simple goal: to hire the best talent. Aside from a few specific instances, that goal is not impacted by geographic restrictions. Evan Cobb, senior director of people potential and global talent acquisition, provided insight into what candidates and new hires can expect when it comes to interviewing and onboarding.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We pivoted in early March of 2020 to virtual interviews and haven’t looked back. This was an adjustment at first, but we’ve been able to adapt our traditional in-person process seamlessly and have hired some amazing talent without ever meeting face to face. While we may not have a physical whiteboard or a projector screen to use anymore, pair programming screen shares or a portfolio presentation give us an in-depth understanding of each candidate’s skill set.

We have been better able to break up interviews into multiple sessions, making it easier for candidates to schedule interviews without having to take time off from their current positions. This flexibility has enabled us to bring a new level of inclusivity to our interview process. We also now do many initial interviews via video instead of the phone, which has enhanced the first stage of the interview process.

Pair programming screen shares or a portfolio presentation give us an in-depth understanding of each candidate’s skill set.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

If nothing else, our shift to virtual onboarding has created a unified experience for new hires. In pre-pandemic times, we typically had a large cohort of new hires in our major offices, and those in smaller offices and the occasional remote hire had an onboarding experience that wasn’t on the same level. Today, no matter where in the world a new Rightpointer joins us from, they have the same first-class experience. Our leaders who facilitate the onboarding sessions drive interaction to ensure everyone is engaged throughout the full two days of our program before each hire embarks on their practice-specific onboarding.

 

 

Flywire team members at a restaurant for happy hour
Flywire

 

Laura Ladd
Senior Manager, Global Talent Acquisition • Flywire

 

One of Flywire’s core values is “global collaboration,” so it goes without saying that the payment technology company is heavily invested in remote hiring. Laura Ladd, senior manager of global talent acquisition, recently shared the extent of that investment and how the company has succeeded with remote hiring and onboarding by being high touch and highly communicative.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We collectively defined the critical aspects of our interview process that made us stand out and allowed candidates to fully understand our culture and ensured we found ways to incorporate those pieces into our new remote process. From there, we collaborated with hiring managers and interview panelists to ensure they felt comfortable with the new remote model. It was understood this would be a team effort, and we collected feedback along the way from both candidates and “FlyMates” to see what pieces were successful and to identify areas for improvement.

The key to a successful interview process at Flywire is high touch and high communication. We want every candidate to feel they can reach out to us at any point with questions or ideas. Hiring is a two-way process and we want every hire to be as equally excited to join Flywire as we are to have them. Ensuring those open lines of communication were maintained in the remote world has been critical to our success.

The key to a successful interview process at Flywire is high touch and high communication.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

Once a candidate accepts an offer, our team ensures all the equipment and resources they’ll need are sent to them prior to starting and that a box of swag is sent to their front door. We have designated start dates so all FlyMates — remote or in-person — join as a cohort and attend their onboarding sessions together virtually. Whether you are remote in the Midwest or in our headquarters in Boston, these sessions are the same for everyone. 

The other key to our remote success is our “Flying Start Program.” This is a virtual global induction program that fully immerses FlyMates into our company and culture. New hires receive department overviews from our leaders, participate in team-building activities and learn what makes Flywire special. Keeping FlyMates connected through these virtual and in-person programs is critical and proves we are one company and that each person matters equally no matter where they are.

 

 

Gray t-shirts with the Panorama Education logo on them
Panorama Education

 

Stephen Bartlett
Head of Talent Acquisition • Panorama Education

 

School districts across the country use Panorama Education’s suite of tools to ensure that every child gets the support they need, including school climate and social-emotional learning surveys, tiered intervention planning and professional development. According to Stephen Bartlett, head of talent acquisition, the company wants its workforce to resemble the diversity of its end users, and remote hiring helps achieve that goal. Panorama is growing its engineering, product and design teams, with the vast majority of open roles on these teams available to remote workers.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We changed the entire hiring process. We switched to Zoom for interviews, although we don’t shy away from old-school phone calls every now and then in the early part of our process. There is no more need to commute to the office for an interview, though. We like candidates to be prepared and know what to expect and usually send some bullet points on what questions will be asked each round to help shake off the nerves. We encourage you to bring your best! 

“Care about people” is one of our core values, and to respect privacy and provide an equitable and fair interview experience, we give candidates time to test Zoom and instructions on how they can blur their background. We also send candidates our “PanoPerks.” These are the perks they’d receive as a “Panoramian,” such as two weeks of company closures each year, holidays, flexible vacation, wellness, home office and/or commuting reimbursements, access to ERGs and more. We know it’s a competitive market and we want to showcase why we were chosen as not only a Built In “Best Places to Work” award recipient but also a Built In “Best Benefits & Perks” award recipient. 

We like candidates to be prepared and know what to expect.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

Each new hire is given access to “Homeroom,” a site with information and resources to help prep them for their entry to Panorama. It includes any next steps, our mission, tech used, recent company news and more. Once the start date arrives, each new hire logs in to their brand new MacBook and begins the two-week team-wide onboarding process. This is an opportunity for new team members to prioritize their learning and build a foundational understanding of Panorama as an organization.

Onboarding is cross-functional and cohorts get to know each other and build a sense of belonging and connection. At the end of each day we create a relaxed space for each cohort to engage with one another and share perspectives. In addition to these daily check-ins, each new team member receives a buddy from the current team who makes introductions and is always available to lend a helping hand. Also, prior to joining, everyone completes a small survey that is then made into a virtual postcard and sent to the whole company, with some even opting in to being featured on our Instagram!

 

 

Mike Smart
Global Head Human Resources • Devo

 

Mike Smart is the global head of human resources at Devo, whose cloud-based platform provides security event logging and analytics solutions. Devo is currently growing its software engineering and cloud operations teams, and Smart shared a bit about what candidates who receive an offer can expect from Devo’s revamped onboarding process.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

What hasn’t changed! We brought in new interview tools like Clovers to help our teams be more efficient with interviewing. We changed our interview philosophy and process to have more panel-style interviews, and like everyone else, we all got a lot better using Zoom.

We have instituted a wildly-popular buddy program to help our new hires acclimate.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

In general we have become much more aware of the impact of properly onboarding new talent. We created a toolkit and training for all of our hiring managers and streamlined some of the paperwork-based processes. We then repurposed that time so we could focus more on discussing our company culture and values. We have instituted a wildly-popular buddy program to help our new hires acclimate and get comfortable as quickly as possible.

 

 

Mainstay team video call
Mainstay

 

Adrienne Barnard
SVP People Operations • Mainstay

 

Mainstay is a student and employee engagement platform whose chatbots are designed to help schools and companies provide support at scale. Adrienne Barnard, SVP of people operations, said the company’s client success and sales teams have recently been growing at a rapid clip. With that in mind, she shared how the company has kept its culture strong while scaling remotely.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We created a number of inclusive materials to support candidates during the interview process. We use Zoom and make it very clear who people are meeting with, what they’ll talk about and how to connect. A little additional in-depth communication goes a long way! Internally, we have built and provided materials to support people with virtual interviews along with general interview tips. 

We launched a buddy program and a comprehensive virtual orientation.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

It can be really intimidating to join a virtual environment, so we launched a buddy program and a comprehensive virtual orientation that runs over the course of three weeks. These initiatives ensure we are providing frequent opportunities to connect with people around the organization and that new hires feel supported in learning about their new employer. Slack is a great way to build an office vibe in a remote environment and we support, encourage and foster non-work channels to build community and culture. I think our most popular ones are “pets and animals” and “learner conversations,” which is where we share the great messages our partners receive from students we help support.

 

 

Forward Financing banner with a quad grid, one with text saying Summer in Maine, the next work from home, another winter in Florida and the last one work from the office
Forward Financing

 

Shannon Braley
VP, People • Forward Financing

 

Forward Financing is a fintech company that provides revenue-based financing to small businesses. The company is going all-in on hiring engineers this year, particularly full-stack developers and engineering leaders. Shannon Braley, VP of people, told Built In about the initiatives her team has rolled out to ensure an “A+” onboarding experience for new hires.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We conduct all of our interviews via Zoom, which makes the process faster and ensures it’s equitable for all candidates.

We pride ourselves on creating an A+ onboarding experience for all new hires.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

Our onboarding process is entirely remote, which gives new hires the flexibility to start from anywhere! To ensure our newest team members immediately feel like part of the Forward family we mail them a personalized swag box and all of their tech equipment before their first day and share a detailed agenda of what to expect throughout the onboarding process. 

We pride ourselves on creating an A+ onboarding experience for all new hires and achieve this through continuous communication, a well-organized schedule and plenty of virtual department overviews and meet and greets with the team. We also rolled out a welcome ambassador program that allows new hires to continue meeting coworkers from across the company over their first few months.

 

 

Linus Health team members standing by windows in the office
Linus Health

 

Ben Stehle
Director of Talent Acquisition • Linus Health

 

With as ambitious a goal as providing personalized brain health to everyone, it only makes sense that Linus Health is hiring across the country. Ben Stehle, director of talent acquisition, said that while Linus is committed to remote hiring, the company also makes time to fly in remote team members to its headquarters in Boston for some good old fashioned, in-person collaboration.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We customized our approach and doubled down on our candidate experience focus. While we did open up our Boston office a few months ago, our interview process has continued to be 100 percent remote, so the importance of interview structure, transparency and communication through the candidate lifecycle is paramount. To reinforce those points, we created a brief informative document to help candidates get to know us a bit more. It includes our company values, a video interview with our CEO about the team, company and our mission; links to featured recents news about the company, employee quotes and testimonials, and the interview structure and mutual expectations.

At the end of the day, candidate experience wins and can be a differentiator in this highly-competitive market. We understand the value and importance of making candidates feel comfortable and valued throughout the process while also being transparent about the work, exciting challenges ahead and the ways candidates can actively contribute from day one.

At the end of the day, candidate experience wins and can be a differentiator in this highly-competitive market.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

During the onboarding process, we assign each employee a buddy to connect them with more tenured employees in different departments. We also have monthly virtual company town halls, in-person summits and a variety of other cross-functional touchpoints to fuel company-wide collaboration. As we move ahead and evolve our hybrid work environment, we will continue to innovate and test different approaches, both to enhance our onboarding process and to foster ongoing team-building, partnership and employee engagement.

 

 

Stephanie Prevost
Sr. Director, People • Vendr

 

Hitting your growth spurt during the pandemic isn’t the worst thing. Stephanie Prevost, senior director of people at Vendr, said it enabled her company to build a remote-native culture, which is incredibly useful given that remote work is now the norm. Vendr purchases and renews SaaS for companies, and according to Prevost, business is booming. Here is how the business’s remote onboarding process has changed as a result.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

We’ve grown from 10 to more than 250 employees since going fully remote in early 2020, meaning we built all of our recruiting and hiring processes with a remote-first focus. We realize the importance of intentional communication during the interview process. Systems that support a consistent process have been key, and hiring manager training has helped us share best practices among everyone involved in the interview process.

We work hard to avoid feelings of isolation and try to make sure everyone knows who they can go to with questions.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

We’ve found that adding extra touchpoints between offer acceptance and start date in the form of calls or emails has made a big difference. Even something as small as a text message to let people know their laptop is en route is important to keep everyone connected and adds a sense of belonging from the get-go. Recently, we implemented a buddy system to match new hires with more tenured employees. We work hard to avoid feelings of isolation and try to make sure everyone knows who they can go to with questions, especially in those early days! Kindness is one of our core values and we want to make sure that comes through in every interaction, both in-person and remote.

 

 

Lauren van Roon
Talent Acquisition, Team Lead • Drizly

 

Wine, spirits and beer delivery platform Drizly is so serious about growth that it’s one of the company’s core values. The company is hiring across the board, and Lauren van Roon, talent acquisition team lead, took some time off from daily recruitment to share a bit about the remote interview and onboarding processes.

 

What did you change about the hiring process to better accommodate remote applicants?

Our process is not only remote friendly but intentional regarding our DEI goals. It begins with a recruiter phone screen and then a blind assessment, which allows us to eliminate as much bias as possible. Each blind assessment is reviewed by the hiring manager, and if the assessment aligns with the skills and expectations of the role we’ll schedule a video interview. In the next and often final round of interviews, you’ll meet members of the team you could join, cross-functional collaborators and the hiring manager. This is all done over Google Hangouts and is extremely remote friendly. We then debrief and potentially extend an offer!

Giving new employees a cohort to onboard with takes the stress out of starting a new job.”

 

How has the onboarding process shifted to ensure offsite employees feel welcomed and engaged?

Onboarding is done virtually in cohorts with class dates starting the first and third Tuesday of the month. Giving new employees a cohort to onboard with takes the stress out of starting a new job and creates a built-in group to connect and engage with, ask questions and lean on in those initial days, weeks and months. We have a virtual company sync every Thursday and new hires are welcomed by our onboarding manager and given an introduction to Drizly as a whole.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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