Heather’s Hiring Tips: Part 1 – Hiring Remote Staff

For years now, Ashton College has been taking advantage of technological innovations, embedding them into our education system, expanding education delivery methods, and introducing different tools into both the in-class and online learning environments. With all the wonderful online tools and software available, Ashton is now expanding our innovative approach into our hiring processes.

Ashton’s Talent Acquisition guru, Heather, shared with us the tips, benefits and implications of using technology to hire remote employees. This is the first article in our series of Heather’s Hiring Tips – tune in next week to learn more!

Why Choose to Hire Remote Staff?

At Ashton College, we use a remote hiring process mostly for faculty members. When it comes to instructors, we are always looking out for specialists that will be able to share their experiences with students. All of our faculty members have to meet certain qualifications and possess a certain skillset and desire to share their knowledge. Reaching out to locations outside the Greater Vancouver Area allows us to capitalize on talent across the country, and fulfills our goal of giving our students a variety of instructors with unique experiences and qualifications.

In my opinion, it always helps to reach out outside of Vancouver, outside of BC – and even outside of Canada, to ensure that we have high-quality instructors for our students. On top of that, this way we can give our students truly unique experiences. For example, we have an instructor for the Immigration Consultant Diploma at Ashton who is a Canadian living in both Paris and Hong Kong throughout the year – he practices immigration there, and he has a chance to teach our students. This definitely adds to the students’ learning experience.

Furthermore, our online students (although it is true for those studying in-class as well) come from all over the world, so there is no reason why we can’t also have instructors teaching globally. Thanks to technology, it is now possible.

How does technology help during the hiring process?

I use technology and online solutions pretty often in the hiring process. For example, I have an applicant tracking system (Zoho People) that has been very helpful. It makes it easier to keep track of multiple applications rather than them otherwise getting lost in my inbox. With this tool, applicant documents are all in one place, and I can set up automatic email reminders and pre-interview questions. I remember I used to do all these tasks manually, but now technology is helping me to be more efficient with my time.

I also use tools like Google Hangouts for interviews, which gives me a better feel for applicants. For one, I feel more confident about an applicant after a successful video interview because I can better see how they are presenting themselves: how they dress, their gestures and facial expressions, etc. Secondly, I can also check their use and knowledge of technology. For Ashton, this is very important when the individual is applying to be an online instructor – especially since the level of some of our students’ technical ability and knowledge is so high.

 

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What are the biggest considerations when doing online interviews?

In my opinion, an interview through an online medium is just a different style of interview, made possible through the technology. Remote interviews are usually relatively simple for faculty members as I have a pretty standardized hiring process for this area of the organization. I ask them the same questions, and aim to ensure quality instructors across the board. When it comes to hiring staff members, this is where I need to be a little more flexible and adapt my interview style depending on the position to which the individual is applying.

For staff, however, I believe it is important to come into the office at least for part of the interview. Not only do you want to connect with them in person, but you also want them to connect with your work environment and culture: you want them to see how the organization works, what kind of office it is and its values. I think they miss an important element if they never interview in person, and it may be harder to see if they will fit in.

What are the advantages and challenges of remote hiring?

I don’t think there are any disadvantages to the process. Of course, it is always helpful to meet someone face-to-face, but I believe you can get the same or similar effect through a Google Hangout.
As previously mentioned, when I’m interviewing for a remote faculty position, I want to see how people engage with technology – since this is the medium through which the online instructors are going to teach. During the interview, I get a glimpse of how they interact online, which allows me to be certain they are able to communicate with me effectively and efficiently.

A remote interview gives me a chance to see how the individual prepares themselves to appear online. For example, I can see how they appear on camera, their dress code, the background – it shows me right away if they are professional and are treating the job seriously.

So I’ve never seen the use of technology as a challenge – in fact, I’ve always welcomed it!

What about hiring remote freelancers?

I used to hire freelancers before I became the Talent Acquisition Specialist at Ashton – I used freelance websites to find applicants for positions such as graphic designers, web developers and videographers.

From my experience, there can be challenges due to time differences or language barriers. Personally, I had to be very flexible with my schedule: I had to constantly check my email on my phone or computer, since I would sometimes get the answers back late at night, after the work hours.

On the other hand, I also found a lot of talented people that I would not have been able to meet or hire if it wasn’t for these freelance websites. You have access to more people and more talent, and you can give them a chance to work on different projects without having to travel abroad.

I really believe that if you have an established hiring process, if you have access to the necessary technology, and if you are flexible at work, then hiring freelancers from abroad can be an amazing opportunity that will benefit your organization. Just remember that you also have to clearly communicate your expectations to the people, to ensure that the cultural, time or language differences do not adversely impact your work. If you can do that, it can open a whole new world to your organization.

Tune in next week to catch Heather’s Hiring Tips on employer recruitment and interview strategies!

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