Chris Russell

2 min read

Recruiting Trends

Remote Hiring Is Replacing the In-Person Interview

Until Covid, remote hiring was about as common as remote workers. That’s not to say it was rare, but it was far from mainstream. Startups and companies with virtual workers would hire remotely, but most other companies still insisted on in-person interviews.

Covid changed all that. When businesses were forced to go all virtual, so did their hiring. A survey in April of 2020, a month after the nationwide shutdown of all but essential businesses, found 43% of hiring managers had reduced in-person interviews; 25% had eliminated them entirely. They had to hire remotely, turned to telephone and video for interviews and increasing their use of assessments and reference checks.

So soon after the shutdown it was impossible to tell what effect remote hiring would eventually have. But there were some hints. Though 41% of managers said hiring had become slower, 38% said it was faster; 21% said it was much faster. The survey found the latter group used significantly more remote hiring methods than those whose turnaround times were slower or unchanged.

There was one other telling point in that early survey: there was a 50/50 split between hiring managers who wanted to return to how hiring was done before Covid and those who wanted to continue to hire remotely.

Remote Hiring More Efficient

Months later, a new survey bore out what the earlier survey hinted at: remote hiring made the process less challenging and more efficient. 

“Across the board, hiring professionals find that the work of talent acquisition and talent management is less challenging than it was [in 2019],” said the report, The State of Hiring in a Year of Crisis.

As recruiters and hiring managers have discovered, remote hiring has definite advantages over the traditional, in-person process. 

A survey conducted just a few months ago found 93% of employers plan to continue using virtual interviews in the future. By large margins, the 1,100 talent acquisition professionals across a broad range of industries and business sizes, said remote hiring was speedier (74%) and easier to manage the process from start to finish (79%).

Over three-quarters believe virtual hiring has improved the candidate experience. Candidates, too, find remote hiring less intimidating (37%); 45% appreciate not having to travel for the interview and the same percentage like that they can interview from anywhere.

No surprise then that Peg Buchenroth, a SVP with the staffing and recruitment firm Addison Group, says, “Virtual interviews are not going away.”  “Virtual interviewing will remain an option for talent acquisition, she told the Society for Human Resource Management,

But as the SHRM article notes, remote hiring has limitations.

Limits of Remote Hiring

“In-person interviews offer a higher level of engagement. You can read body language better and get a better sense of someone’s interpersonal skills,” Buchenroth pointed out. “For roles that require strong social skills, such as client-facing or senior leadership positions, employers may want to meet candidates face-to-face.”

For that reason, talent acquisition professionals expect companies to adopt a hybrid hiring process. Jobs requiring in-person interaction, such as in retail or hospitality or that demand close collaboration among an on-site team will still have a fact-to-face component. Remote hiring tools including phone screens, video interviews, assessments and, when relevant, skills testing may be used to narrow the applicant pool, but the final step will be an in-person interview.

Entirely remote hiring will be reserved for jobs to be performed remotely. And this is a category of work that is expanding rapidly. Better than 4-in-10 workers could potentially do their job remotely, says the World Economic Forum which predicts a “significant expansion of remote work.”

The issue for companies is no longer whether to include remote hiring as part of their talent acquisition process, but how and specifically what tools to use, says Eric Friedman, chairman and CEO of a skills assessment provider writing.

“The challenge is selecting and consolidating the right tools to deliver a sustainable and effective remote talent acquisition model.”

Contribution by John Zappe

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