With virtual onboarding becoming the new norm, we have delved into it from a client and candidate point of view. Chris Brett our Testing Recruitment Consultant at Searchability discussed virtual onboarding with Emma (Head of People, Culture and Talent) from Freestyle and Malcolm onboarded as QA Lead. Talking about how they determine things like team fit, any concerns they had about virtual onboarding and advice for candidates looking and companies also hiring.
Here's each side of the stories view point on Freestyle's virtual onboarding.
Our culture here is so strong, that whether it’s on the phone, in person or on a video call, you know pretty instantly if the person you’re talking to is a Freestyler. This isn’t about asking a set of questions that determine a fit….if there is a natural and easy conversation with someone that is clearly passionate about both what they do and how they continually improve at what they do then it’s pretty likely they’ll be a fit!
Obviously, you're restricted to just your upper body in a box being seen by 1 or more persons. But there is a lot you can do to have your personality come through. I can't stress enough how you should just be yourself. Your interviewers will have already read your C.V. and this is an opportunity to show them you are more than just what's on the piece of paper. Showing that you're a human isn't a crime and especially over a video call. No one can call you out for wearing jogging bottoms in the comfort of your own home of course, but that doesn't mean you can't look smart and wear a shirt. Your background can say a lot about you too. Discretion as to what you have on display is advised, but depending on the situation it can say a lot about you and may even become the topic of conversation!
We’re big on people here, and on employee experience, so for me it was about ensuring that any new-starters had the best possible experience (slick and efficient), and that they instantly felt part of the team. At the end of the day whether it’s virtual or in-person, no one wants to start a new job unsure of who and what to ask! As we all adapt and move more towards a ‘remote-first’ approach, which for us means that no matter where someone choses to work (home, coffee shop, office etc), they aren’t disadvantaged and that communication remains tight - I was keen to ensure that this came across during the on-boarding process…as ever, communication, information and expectation management is key.
When starting a new job there's always a lot to take in, from people's names, to setting up your new work space. One concern I had was that I may feel a bit more left out, when compared to being thrown straight into a new office environment. It may seem hard to build comradery over video calls when compared to just sitting next to someone. But over time it will pass and a good onboarding process will make you feel right at home.
The process for interviewing is largely the same (other than it’s on Zoom not in our lovely Barns or in the pub!). Our interview process is relatively informal and relaxed, as this is more reflective of our culture - which is largely centred around trust and autonomy. We like for potential hires to have a chance to meet as many people as possible (without feeling overwhelmed) so that they can get a good feel if we are a good fit for them.
With Freestyle it has been absolutely seamless! From the interview process, where I got to meet many different faces who all contributed to making sure I was the right fit. To the onboarding, where I've got to meet even more of the team and not once have I felt I was out of the loop. There is always that feeling when starting a new job that you're a bit of a fifth wheel and are yet to start the real work. But at Freestyle, I've already had plenty of meetings to discuss the future and with the flexibility of remote working I've been able to settle in much better than anywhere I have worked before. Nowhere else has made me feel so welcome this early on!
Being remote has encouraged us to re-visit the on-boarding process (which has been on my to-do list for far too long). Having spent time listening to our Freestylers that joined in the last 2 years about what was good and what could be improved, I am now really happy.
Technical issues are always a hazard. One interview I'd had was difficult due to the platform being used and/or internet speed. There was a bit cross over in who was talking and occasional dropping out of the call. Of course, your potential employer should be setup appropriately, but make sure everything is secure on your end. Join the call early, test out your camera and microphone and make sure your internet connection is secure by shutting any unnecessary applications taking up bandwidth.
Absolutely! I am happy with the onboarding process we now have in place which is fit for purpose for both remote and in-person on-boarding.
For me personally I have found the virtual interview process far more accommodating and would definitely want to see elements remain. While attending in person has its advantages, it also has its downsides. Interviewing in general is challenging at the best of times. The idea of having to distil a person's attributes and personality down enough to fit into a small amount of time, with mostly strangers, can feel intimidating. Nerves can set in, stumbling over words. These are not what would happen on a day-to-day basis for most people. Virtual interviews take a lot of this away. Feeling prepared and comfortable is truer to who you are and not feeling put on the spot. You may not be able to shake their hand, but that doesn't mean you aren't able to display your personality and for them to see if you are the right fit.
Yes and no - we’re a sociable bunch so it’s always nicer to meet people face to face, but where that’s not possible the Zoom option works well.
It most certainly comes down to the type of work. My partner being a chef, she has had both virtual interviews and doing trial days within a kitchen. For her job, a trail day in kitchen was far more appropriate of course and her virtual interview felt a bit disconnected from showing her skills.
Within my sector of office working, I think it comes down to personal taste and style. If you're a quieter and shyer candidate, it can be more agreeable that you are in your own space and have the familiar around you. For a more open and chattier candidate, they may find the lack of physical contact restrictive and that they want to put themselves over more than they are able to through a zoom call.
Whilst you have needs and requirements to fill as a business, take a moment to put yourself in the position of the job hunter/new-starter. What might be going through their head, how would they like to be communicated with, what information might they want/need to feel confident in making a decision as big as a job move and how can you make them feel genuinely welcome and part of the team. Look to give them the best possible experience at all stages of the process and you won’t go far wrong.
Most of the same advice for an in-person interview applies to virtual interviews too. Make sure to have your questions ready to show your interest, do your research into the company and have the key points you wish to get across about yourself prepared. As a virtual interview takes place in your own space, it's your responsibility to have the environment be appropriate. Make sure your setup is all ready to go, way before the appointment time. It must be in a secure location (a parked car on your phone doesn't count!) and make you'll have no interruptions there are no distractions. Most of all, be yourself! There may be a screen between you and the other person, but the real you will come through the more comfortable you feel.