How to Navigate Inclusive Hiring in A Remote World

A Recruiter’s Guide to Inclusive Hiring Strategies for Remote & Hybrid Teams​

Recruitment

As the pandemic swept across the globe, it didn’t just change our daily lives; it revolutionized the recruitment landscape. Companies found themselves navigating uncharted waters, reimagining ways to connect with candidates in a suddenly virtual-centric world. Gone were the days of face-to-face interviews in conference rooms; instead, we welcomed virtual onboarding, digital handshakes, and Zoom introductions.

Today, as more companies return to in-office setups or embrace hybrid work models, a pressing question emerges: With these shifts, what place does remote hiring hold in this new world? Is it a fleeting trend, or does it still hold relevance?

The answer is unequivocal: remote hiring is not only relevant but essential in our evolving professional ecosystem. By democratizing access to global talent, offering unparalleled flexibility, and underscoring the importance of technological adaptability, the pandemic has showcased the potential of remote hiring.

Yet, as we embrace this shift, we’re met with a unique set of challenges. From the nuances of virtual communication, to disparities in access to resources, the path to inclusivity in remote recruiting environments isn’t exactly straightforward. How do we ensure that a candidate’s potential isn’t overshadowed by digital accessibility issues? Or that our team members feel a genuine sense of belonging, despite being geographically far apart?

In this interview with Hyper Hippo’s Talent Acquisition Specialist, Lauren Manton, we delve deeper into these challenges. Read on to learn how one recruiter is adapting inclusive hiring practices to meet the challenges of remote recruitment.

Meet Lauren!

Can you share a bit about yourself and your role at Hyper Hippo?

Absolutely! I’m Lauren, and I’m Hyper Hippo’s Talent Acquisition Specialist. Throughout my time at Hippo, I’ve helped over 40 new hippos join the team in a variety of different areas. I thrive on networking and what I love most about my role is being able to connect with individuals to help place them in a role they are passionate about. In my spare time, you’ll find me gaming, playing with my kids or volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters St. Thomas.

The Importance of Inclusive Hiring

At a high level, what does inclusive hiring look like?

Inclusive hiring is all about recognizing and embracing the fact that candidates can bring a broad range of qualities and perspectives to an organization. It’s not just about hiring people who identify with an underrepresented group (although this is a component); inclusive hiring is about taking a step back and looking at your hiring practices to ensure that they are as equitable and accessible as possible so that no matter who applies, they have a fair and equal shot at being considered for that position.

Does inclusive hiring look different in a remote/hybrid context than it does in person? Would you say recruiters need to be more or less intentional (or treat it the same) as inclusivity in-person?

Inclusive hiring can definitely look different in a remote or hybrid context compared to in-person hiring. While key factors such as a DE&I lens–that’s diversity, equity, and inclusion–are equally important in-person or online, there will be specific considerations that may need to be adapted for remote or hybrid work settings. For example, digital accessibility, access to resources, time-zone differences, and integration into company culture are all factors that look different in an online environment, when it comes to inclusion.

Overcoming Barriers to Inclusivity

What challenges should recruiters be mindful of in remote settings? What are some unique challenges you’ve personally seen/experienced when it comes to inclusive hiring for remote or hybrid roles?

Although there are many benefits remote and hybrid work can offer in the context of inclusive hiring, there are definitely some barriers. The main barrier when it comes to hybrid and remote work is technology. Although we live in a technology-driven society, not every job seeker has access to or the means to purchase the equipment they would need to successfully perform their job from home. If an employer wants to truly set an employee up for success, they will provide the equipment necessary to do so. Feeling isolated is also more common in remote settings where people might not feel as connected to their team or the company as they would in person.

How has Hyper Hippo adapted their recruitment processes to be more inclusive?

At Hyper Hippo, we have come a long way in our hiring processes, and as remote work practices evolve, we are always trying to find ways to improve. Some of the current measures we have taken to make our roles more accessible to applicants are:

1. Moving to a fully remote hiring model

Becoming a fully remote employer has allowed us to hire candidates located anywhere in Canada, and even in parts of the United States. This shift has also removed a huge barrier to roles that require employees to be in office; that is, transportation. Access to reliable transportation can be costly and stressful, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from prospective candidates how thankful they are to not have to worry about commuting.

2. Helping team members get the right set-up for them

In addition to providing all employees with the necessary equipment to be successful, we offer a $1000 Ergonomic Benefit to every Hippo to ensure they have a comfortable and safe home office to work from. Additionally, we make sure that our team members who wish to make use of a hybrid set-up, or need to use a working space outside of the home (for any reason at all) have access to that option without us having to be fully in-office. It’s a win win!

3. Choosing the right tools for remote interviews

From a candidate’s first conversation with me to their final team interview, it can all be done remotely. Candidate assessments such as take home tests or paired game jams are also done remotely, which can remove some of the pressure candidates may feel in an in-person setting. Part of my role is ensuring all candidates have access to a computer with a webcam for the interview process, and if they don’t, we work with them to secure alternate arrangements so that everyone has a fair chance.

4. Onboarding with a focus on connection & culture

From the moment a candidate signs their offer to the day they start at Hyper Hippo, there is a coordinated team effort to welcome them and make sure they are set up for success. Each candidate is contacted prior to their start date to ensure access to any necessary accommodations; everyone is supported to work in their respective time zone; and the onboarding is set up to ensure that in each employee’s first 3 weeks, they are greeted by team leaders across the studio to introduce themselves and get to know the different business functions. This allows employees to feel welcomed and included in the company culture right from the get go, regardless of us all not being together in an office. Whenever possible, we onboard new team members as part of a cohort so that in their first few weeks, they’re part of a group going through the training process together.

Inclusive Hiring Strategies

What are some techniques/strategies you’ve learned when it comes to inclusive hiring for remote roles?

There are so many techniques and strategies you can use when it comes to inclusive hiring! The ones I find are key to being successful are:

Diverse Sourcing:
Not just sticking to LinkedIn for example. Run multiple searches on different platforms such as slack groups, various job boards, even virtual networking. I’ve really tried to focus on building partnerships with organizations or people who represent underrepresented groups. This opens up your candidate pool to a much broader and more inclusive network.

Blind Resume Reviews:
Blind screening is truly a game changer for the world of recruitment. With blind screening features, recruiters are able to ensure that any personal information that indicates gender, ethnicity or age is removed when an application is received. You are purely looking at a skill set. This is so powerful for both employers and candidates because it reduces the risk of bias.

Structured interviews:
Whether you’re remote, hybrid, or in-person, having a structured interview process is crucial to inclusion because every candidate deserves the same opportunities and experience. Once a role is approved, I work with the Hiring Manager to conduct an intake meeting, where we discuss the selection process, and clearly outline what each stage looks like and what questions will be asked. It is important to make this information visible to the candidate so that they know what to expect ahead of time.

Interview training:
We run mandatory interview training for anyone involved in the interview process, from hiring managers to individual contributors. The training covers topics such as appropriate interview questions, interview etiquette, and anti-bias training, among others. This leaves our team members feeling confident and supported when it comes time to them drafting their interview questions, and most importantly, it ensures that every candidate has an equitable experience.

Inclusive Job Descriptions:
Essentially, crafting inclusive JDs involves reviewing postings to eliminate biased or gendered language, and separating skills or qualifications that may be more of a “want” than a “must have.” I truly recommend this be a partnership between the recruiter and a hiring manager. Being intentional about this helps avoid creating what recruiters call a “unicorn candidate”; essentially, a job description targeted specifically to the perfect candidate with unreasonable qualifications. Not only does searching for a unicorn candidate make a role almost impossible to fill, but you lose out on fantastic candidates simply because on paper, they don’t match what a hiring manager thinks they need. So delete those long lists of qualifications, and work with your hiring managers to craft a job posting that considers diverse combinations of education and experience.

This is one of the areas I’m most proud of at Hyper Hippo. I frequently see hiring managers consider candidates’ past experience, or a combination of education and experience, in lieu of formal qualification requirements. In my opinion, recognizing that experience comes in many different forms for different people is at the core of inclusive hiring.

The Impact of Technology

When it comes to technology, any advice on what tools can be a help or a hindrance when it comes to inclusivity?

Technology can definitely be a hindrance to inclusivity. Even though we live in a technology dominated society, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has access to the technology they need to set themselves apart. As a recruiter, you have to be flexible here. Maybe a candidate can’t be on camera during an interview because they don’t have access to a webcam, so offer them a phone interview, or arrange for them to get access to the equipment they need. Leverage inclusion-based tools like blind screening settings, but also be mindful of the biases that can be present when using algorithms or AI to help you sort applications. Finally, be aware of what accessibility settings are available in the tools you use (i.e. Zoom, MS Teams, WebEx, etc.) in case a candidate asks you about them.

Are there any tech tools you find particularly helpful to create inclusive experiences?

Having a good applicant tracking system (ATS) is essential. At Hyper Hippo, we use Pinpoint. Within Pinpoint, I’m able to outline the stages of the interview process directly underneath the job postings, giving candidates an idea of what to expect before they even speak with me. Pinpoint also makes blind screenings easy as identifying information can be hidden with the click of a button, reducing the possibility for bias during initial candidate screenings.

Candidate Experience

In your experience, what common concerns/questions have come up that candidates want to know about in remote/hybrid contexts (around inclusivity)?

Ooooohhhhh, I like this question! I would say the most common questions surrounding remote work have been:

  1. What hours am I expected to work? (A follow-up question to this I frequently receive is, do we find there is a lot of crunch time or overtime with the difference between time zones?)
  2. Does Hyper Hippo provide equipment, or support to set up my home office?
  3. How does Hyper Hippo keep our employees connected and engaged while being remote? What’s the company culture like?
  4. What types of training and development do we offer our employees in respect to career development?

Remote work arrangements and supports can vary so much between companies, do you have any tips for how you make sure candidates have an accurate picture of what Hyper Hippo offers?

I think this really comes down to transparency and communication. From the first contact, I outline that we are a remote-first company, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t connected or supportive of our employees simply because we aren’t physically working in the same space. I highlight our flexibility with work hours, our ergonomic benefit, our hybrid work support, our workstyle benefit and the steps we take to ensure everyone has the technology that best meets their needs. Some advice I can share is make sure this is a conversation, not a sales pitch; give opportunities for candidates to ask questions and be honest if you’re not able to provide something they’re looking for. Being on the same page with expectations is crucial in a remote context.

Future Trends

Reflecting on how hiring practices have changed since companies first went remote with the pandemic, what are the needs you see emerging for inclusivity in hybrid/remote workplaces?

I think in order for companies to truly be successful as a remote workforce, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:

Digital inclusion: ensuring all employees have access to the necessary technology and equipment to successfully perform their job. This includes, but is not limited to employers providing employees with equipment and devices, as well as providing support to offset the costs associated with working from home if possible (i.e. providing a stipend to offset higher internet and utility costs).

Flexible work arrangements: Organizations who chose to be remote need to be open to flexible working hours based on candidates’ different time zones, personal/family life and personal preferences.

Inclusive communication: Technology is helpful but it can also be a barrier when it comes to communications. Some ways to make your comms more inclusive include recording virtual meetings, turning on closed captions and making transcripts accessible, and training new team members on how your company uses communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Mental Health & Wellbeing: Working remotely can make it easy to forget to take breaks, or establish proper work-life balance. Organizations can promote clear boundaries for employees working from home by establishing business hours, and encouraging team members to set and communicate their individual working hours and pause notifications outside these hours as much as possible. Being intentional about this can encourage a healthy work/life balance and help to reduce burnout amongst their team.

Interested in working with us at Hyper Hippo? Check out our open roles here, or join our talent pipeline to be notified when we’re hiring for a role that aligns with your expertise!