If you have never hired an employee virtually, interviewing and onboarding may be a new challenge to tackle. In this uncertain time, we need to practice physical distancing, but that doesn’t mean our employment process has to stand still. Here are some tips to help:
Choose your technology platform
There are a lot of online meeting platforms out there (Skype, BlueJeans, MS teams, Google hangouts, Zoom, BambooHR) take your pick. Make sure you test different options and decide what works best for you and your company.
Make sure all interviewers are on the same page
When you choose your interview panel it is important that everyone tells a consistent story about your company and is well-informed about both the candidate and position. You will need to provide the panel the correct interview time on their calendar, properly adjusting for different time zones. Make sure your chosen interviewers are familiar with the technology platform you have chosen. You will also want to assign questions and an order in which the interview panel will go. It may be helpful to organize a meeting with the panel to set expectations of how the interview process will work at your organization, especially for first-time panelists.
Cut out distractions
Virtual interviews should be no different than in-person interviews. Though it may seem more casual, it’s important to treat them just like you would at the office. Dress professionally and choose a quiet space that will not be distracting to the candidate. Turn off your phone and computer notifications to avoid distractions and remain focused. Give the candidate your undivided attention and make direct eye contact by looking at your computer’s camera instead of the screen.
Write down your feedback right away
Virtual interviewing gives you less one on one time with the candidate. For example, when someone comes to your office for an interview, you might enjoy some small talk while you welcome them or walk them out of your office, which could make your candidate more memorable. Over video it may be easier to mix up candidates, especially if you have back to back interviews, so make sure you are taking notes and write down all feedback right away to make sure you don’t forget or miss anything.
It is important, especially in the park and recreation field, to continue with background screening of new employees and volunteers. Ultimately, your objective is to keep kids, coaches, volunteers and staff safe. NRPA is partnered with Background Investigation Bureau (BIB) to offer NRPA members their Secure Applicant platform. This is an online platform that allows volunteers to pay for their own screen and offers automated notifications of approvals, rescreens and expirations.
Making conditional job offers
A conditional job offer is an employment offer that is conditioned upon the successful completion of another event or additional requirement that the prospective employee must meet prior to obtaining a particular job. Examples include the completion of a satisfactory background check, satisfactory reference checks, and passing a drug or COVID test (if applicable).
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently provided the following guidance on screening applicants for COVID-19, “An employer may screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer, as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same type of job. This ADA rule applies whether or not the applicant has a disability.” Learn more and get guidance from the EEOC.
If there is any question as to whether the position will be filled, make sure you check with your state unemployment office before making an offer. You will want to make sure you have all of the information necessary relating to any future impacts.
Traditionally on an employee’s first day, they would be shown around the office and introduced to their coworkers and new team members. Help foster these connections by doing virtual introductions to all staff. You may also want to consider a virtual mentor, perhaps someone on their team who can help kick-start connections with other employees and limit any feelings of isolation new hire might have.
Adjust your current onboarding
Consider rolling out all your typical information you may give on the first day at a slower pace. It is important to consider making changes to your current onboarding process, as a new remote environment can be overwhelming. By spacing out information, it will give the new employee time to absorb the information and ask questions as needed.
It is important to keep new hires engaged, motivated and connected. You may consider requiring managers to have daily or weekly check-ins with new employees. The key is to help develop a regular schedule for interaction and open up the line of communication, so no one feels alone or lost in their new role. This will help create a path of success for the future.
There are a lot of qualified professionals who may be an asset to your agency, use the tips above to make sure you are continuing to build a strong team. Don’t forget to post your current job openings on the NRPA Career Center to help you find qualified professionals. NRPA members receive FREE seasonal and internship postings.
For more information about NRPA’s response to COVID-19, as well as available resources for park and recreation professionals, please see our Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) webpage.
Hayley Herzing is NRPA’s Senior Manager of Membership.