In the shift to remote work, many hiring processes have had to shift as well, from interviewing to onboarding. One aspect of recruitment that’s in particular danger of getting lost in translation—but that’s of high importance to hiring the right fit for the job—is conveying your company culture. Your culture is the specific set of organizational values and behaviors that define your company, and it can make or break the success of a new hire.
Here, we’ll share tips for conveying your workplace culture effectively while adapting to Zoom interviews, virtual onboarding and all the other new considerations of hiring remotely.
Why Conveying Company Culture is More Important Than Ever
When you have a traditional interview process where the candidate spends time onsite, it’s pretty easy for them to get a read on your workplace culture from the people they meet, the attire of staffers, and even the look and feel of the office. On the other hand, it isn’t as easy when you’re hiring remotely. The candidate is now forced to make a judgement about your company culture with a much more limited set of information—and if you’re not putting the proper information out there, this could wind up hurting your chances of hiring the right person.
It goes the other way, too. When you’re only communicating through screens, it’s more difficult to get a feel for what the candidate is like as a person and in turn, how they might fit in with your broader team culture. Your ability to accurately assess candidates is of equal importance in the context of hiring for culture fit.
If your new hires are going to be working remotely once they’re onboarded, it’s even more important that they feel a sense of connection to and belonging with their fellow team members. Research shows that a sense of “fitting in” plays heavily into an employee’s level of job satisfaction, which can impact how successful they are in their first few months and how long they stay with the company.
Finally, getting the culture fit right for remote teams has a bearing on a new hire’s performance. If your culture is one where independence is valued but this person thrives on lots of one-on-one feedback, for example, they’re probably going to struggle to get up to speed as fast as you’d like. It’s important to flag these potential mismatches ahead of time to avoid making the wrong hire.
So how can you convey your company culture when your only interactions with a candidate are virtual ones? Follow these tips for infusing every step of your remote recruiting process with elements of your culture in order to help hiring managers decide on whether an applicant is an appropriate fit.
How to Convey Company Culture Through Remote Hiring
1. Start with the application process
It’s shocking how many companies rave about their unique culture but use form language on their applications, job listings, and so on. Start conveying your workplace personality from the candidate’s very first interaction by tailoring the materials they see when they apply.
Fill the Careers page of your website with messaging that explains what sets you apart, and be sure to update it regularly with the latest information for job seekers. Designate a section of your job descriptions specifically for discussing what it’s like to work for you. Enlist a copywriter to infuse your automated email messages and other application follow-ups with your distinct voice. You can even convey culture through the hold music and scripted messages you use on your office’s phone system.
Wherever possible, avoid using cookie-cutter language that comes preprogrammed in your software programs or has been copied and pasted from somewhere else. Instead, customize every piece of messaging an applicant sees to align with the way people in your company actually communicate with one another.
2. Be specific
Don’t just tell candidates what it’s like to work for you. Since they can’t see for themselves by being onsite, use your words to show them with specific examples that encapsulate your culture. Did one of your teams come together to raise money for a cause they care about? Maybe an employee went above and beyond in a major way to solve a customer’s problem? These are the kinds of colorful, super-specific examples of culture that will stick in a candidate’s mind and sell what sets you apart.
One great way to do this is by involving your employees. Ask them to share anecdotes that capture what they like most about working for the company. You can also mine your positive reviews on sites like Glassdoor for examples. Use these real-world experiences to paint a picture of what a day in the life at your company actually looks like.
This exercise is also a good litmus test of how honest you’re being with yourself and candidates when it comes to your culture. If you say you value creative thinking, but you have trouble coming up with clear examples to support this, it might be time to reconsider that particular quality as part of your company values (or start taking steps to prioritize it!).
3. Introduce the team
No single team member can convey a full representation of your workplace culture. That’s why it’s important, whenever possible, to allow candidates to meet with more than just their hiring manager. Set up times for applicants to connect with other staffers—their peers, their team lead, the people who would be their direct reports, and so on. Hiring remotely makes this more of a challenge than if you could simply take them from one cubicle to the next, but it’s still easily manageable with tools like Google Hangouts.
If you have a regularly scheduled non-work meetup, like a virtual coffee break or game night (which is an important step in engaging remote employees), this is another great opportunity to gauge the culture fit of late-stage applicants. Extend an invitation for your top pick to join the get together to get a feel for how they mesh with the team.
4. Offer ample opportunity for Q&A
It’s standard practice to give candidates a chance to ask questions at the end of an interview, but time constraints and professional norms will usually limit them to just one or two queries. However, when presented with a new job opportunity, most of us think of additional questions once we’ve had a bit of time to digest the interview.
To settle on the best fit, make sure all of your top candidates’ questions are fully answered by offering them multiple opportunities to chat with you beyond just the interview. Check-in at every stage of the hiring process to see that there are no question marks in their mind and, if there are, address them.
Don’t beat around the bush to try and assess how they feel about culture fit. Ask specifically about their thoughts on their ideal place to work and how they feel they would fit in at your organization. This is more important than you might expect—if you leave the topic of company culture undiscussed, there’s a high probability of it resurfacing later in the form of issues or complaints.
While you’re on the track of talking openly with candidates, it’s also a good idea to ask explicitly about their feelings on remote work in general, especially if your plan for the foreseeable future is to have employees work offsite.
5. Leverage social media
Since its inception, social media has served as a place for organizations to showcase their personality beyond just their business. When interacting in person isn’t an option, social media is a great ‘next best thing,’ not just for individuals but for companies and the people they’re thinking of hiring.
Use your posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and the like to offer a behind-the-scenes look at working for your company. Some organizations even set up dedicated profiles specifically for this purpose. You can use your social media channels to share profiles of employees in different roles, celebrate team wins, share more about the founding of your company, look back at ‘this day in history,’ and more.
Help candidates engage by inviting them to like your social media profiles during the application process. Consider using a unique hashtag to make all of your company culture posts easily discoverable. Thompson Reuters’ series of Instagram posts using the hashtag #WorkingAtTR is a great example of this.
Related: Why Showcasing Your Company Culture on Social Media Matters
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