Overcoming The Challenges Of Remote Recruitment

By Tony Restell

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I recently had the opportunity to interview Jen Crofton of BrunswikSt. Jen's really passionate about the ways recruitment businesses need to adapt in order to thrive in a Remote Working (WFH) environment.

The interview is really enlightening for anyone wanting to figure out how to get their teams performing to their full potential while working from home - and you can catch it in full (~10 mins) below.
Jen Crofton InterviewKen Diamond Interview

Watch the full interview

Here's the full video, a transcript of which follows underneath

Interview Transcript

I know when we were first speaking, one of the important things for companies to do is to help their teams prepare to be able to conduct virtual interviews as effectively as possible and to make sure they've got the skill set to do that.

How do you go about doing that? And what do you focus on?

We found especially for a lot of the organizations that we've been working with. In Seattle, a lot of people don't work from home traditionally, it's just a lot of people were in the office and were kind of slowly starting to shift that way. So what we did with our clients to help them prepare is just a few basic tips.

One was to make sure that the people on the team had actually reviewed the role and the resume of the person that they were gonna be talking to. Which seems kind of counterintuitive, but usually, you've got the resume printed out. And a lot of people at home can't. So they really wanted to make sure, take the time ahead of time to make sure you understood who you were talking to and what the position was and then be prepared with questions. I think that in-person interviews are sometimes a lot easier to go off the cuff. But you don't have that same interaction when you're doing it over a video call.

So we actually tell people to prepare a bit more than you would traditionally and make sure, if you're a manager, that you're preparing your team for how to interview. Some people have never done it before. We're seeing people get looped into interviews that they might not otherwise have been a part of. So really making sure that you're giving them the tools that they need so that they can also interview well, is really important.

Making sure everybody understands the technology and then even when you're working from home, it's harder now because that's still a reflection on the company you're interviewing for. So make sure that background is still professional. If you are the person interviewing and your background's really messy, whether you mean it or not, it is still going to be a reflection on the company. So just some basic stuff like that, it is really helpful.

And then our last tip for clients, that I feel is a key, is to have a plan for follow up with all of these interviews. What is your next plan? Because what we don't want to see happen is still time where days go by without anybody giving efeedback or if you've got three people interviewing, are they staying on after the candidate drops off so that everyone can talk about their feedback? What's that end feedback loop look like? And have that decided ahead of time.

Terrific advice. And as you say a lot of that is sort of simple, but could easily be overlooked and can have a big impact.

So thank you for sharing those. And another aspect I guess of adapting to the virtual world is trying to keep your teams intact and motivated and still feeling like a team. What are some of the things you've been doing to achieve that?

That was a really hard one for us because we love being in the office. We really like each other, so as a team working from home was really difficult.

And so what we put in place for BrunswikSt. specifically was we did a Friday happy hour.

So we set aside from 2 to 3 every Friday, that we would come together and plan a happy hour for each other without actual cocktails. People can do it with or without.

But we were just trying to spend time together and something that was not talking about work.

We also have to still remember right, there's a pandemic going on. There is an uprisal, right?

There are a lot of things that your teams need and one of them is to just have a bit of fun.

So I actually have put some articles out on LinkedIn about this, but for our virtual happy hours, what we ended up doing was every week we would shift from one person to the next.

So we all got a chance to come up with something for the group and it was really fun to see everybody's creative ideas because people came up with stuff that was wonderful. So we got some of those listed out, but online, there are some great tools.

There's scattergories that you can do where it's built out for you. We did one where we led a scavenger hunt outside.

So there were 10 things that you had to find with your phone.

You had 20 minutes to do it, and then everybody had to race back. We showed what pictures we took. There was a scorecard. Somebody won in the end.

So people were really into it. And for us, we were playing for $10 gift cards. That could be spent virtually to places like Starbucks or Grubhub or things online.

But it needed a little bit more fun. It didn't break the budget and people really got into it.

So I think there's a lot more out there now. But there's also more interactive stuff that you can do as a team.

So I do think it's just really important to set some time aside for fun, together, because we're missing that.

Definitely. And that's the fun side of things.

And I guess the flip side of that is when you have to have difficult conversations with people.

Have you had anything like that yourself?

And how are you handling that kind of thing, when it's on Skype or some kind of remote loop.

I think that that's also a great challenge right now, is that there are tough conversations that have to be had, whether it's potential layoffs because of downsizing or I think one thing we have to, as managers and owners of businesses, we can't have the same expectations of our teams that we did six months ago.

We're not just taking our daily lives and moving it into working from home.

So one thing I think is really important is that, if you're gonna have a challenging conversation, are your expectations realistic?

And I think that that's something that, as a group, everyone needs to have decided on. What are we?

What does it look like?

What does our job look like today?

But one thing that I found is the one-on-one, sometimes might feel a little bit more difficult.

Don't do these conversations over the phone.

Do them over a video chat so you can see each other.

Don't have these types of conversations like typing them in or texting or any of the chat boxes that we're all using.

But I think the most important thing when it comes to if there are challenges happening with your team, is that you first start out the conversation with finding out how that individual is doing and make sure that it's not just them having a hard day and put some context around it.

Another thing we've seen is that we really just had to set the expectations upfront about communication because when we're in an office you pick so much up that you don't otherwise have to say because they're hearing the phone conversation you're having, or you just were missing that whole piece of it too.

So I think when there are tough conversations, they definitely need to be over a video chat.

But take the time first, to flip it over and make sure you know how that other individual's doing.

And maybe if there was another reason why that you are taking into consideration and then give them a chance to fix their behaviours as well.

Absolutely. And then I guess the bigger picture there is also just being on top of the well-being and the mental health of your team.

How have you found the challenge of doing that?

And any advice on that front?

I think this is a huge challenge for all of us right now.

We're in a very unique circumstance, and there isn't a blueprint for any of us on how to get through this, how long it's going to be.

We're all tired of the pandemic and don't even want to deal with it anymore, even though it's still going on.

And there's now a national upheaval that's particularly happening in the United States, but it is spreading across the world.

We're seeing it.

So there's a lot happening and I think this goes back to your expectations of your team should not be the same as they were six months ago, and if they are you need to really re-evaluate that because people need time and they need space.

One thing that we have done for our morning meetings is I start actually with asking everyone how their heart is today.

It's one step further than saying, "How's everyone doing?" "Great!" You're not actually getting any meat there.

But we have sometimes dedicated an hour and 1/2 of a morning meeting, with talking about what happened over the weekend or how a situation is, and traditionally you would spend 10 minutes on it or five minutes on it.

"How's everybody's weekends?" and then you move on and I think allowing space for those conversations is really important.

I think for the mental health of your team.

If you are sitting down over a video chat with people individually that may not feel as comfortable talking out in the group and seeing how they're doing.

And then you just have to be prepared to listen.

This isn't necessarily a time for you to fight back or make a point.

You just listen to your team and be there.

We discovered very early on, in an amazing podcast called The Happiness Lab.

It was put on by a professor out of Yale.

She actually teaches a course on it and there were some Coronavirus, there's, I think it was, eight or ten special ones about getting through that.

So that's another thing that I would recommend, is find some podcast or find something that you can do as a group. We would listen to an episode, and then the next day we would come back and talk about it, and everybody had their different ahas.

But it also gave us tools to get through this time, and they were more of a scientific approach, which I personally appreciate.

It's not kind of as touchy-feely, and maybe some of the meditation ones are, in that it's literally, this is how your brain works.

Here's how you can trick it or what are you doing that may be causing you more harm.

So I really recommend people look at that. It can be found anywhere.

Jen, very conscious of time, this has been really very helpful.

Thanks so much.

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