8 Ways Companies Are Making Their Remote Candidate Experience Stand Out

April 6, 2021

Screenshot of Instacart employee doing a video interview with a photo of company's snack wall behind them

In the age of social distancing, providing an exceptional candidate experience may look a little different than it used to. With in-person coffee chats, on-site interviews, and lunches with the team no longer an option, many companies are finding new ways to make their candidates feel valued or inventive ways of re-creating these familiar interactions from afar.  

If you’re looking for ways to keep candidates engaged and make your own candidate experience stand out right now, we’ve rounded up eight examples of things companies are doing to provide a great remote candidate experience. Some of these practices were already in place before social distancing, but they translate seamlessly to an online-only experience — and may make it easier to hire remote candidates now and in the future. 

1. Offering support and guidance before the candidate even applies

The candidate experience doesn’t start the moment a candidate submits an application. The information they find along the path to applying can also influence their perception of an employer, making them feel like the company wants them to succeed. 

One organization that takes steps to provide preapplication resources is Erie Insurance. The company’s blog includes tips on getting started in the industry, writing a strong application, and more. In a blog post and YouTube video, former Erie interns also explain what the virtual internship experience was like in 2020, from the type of work they were doing to the remote team-building opportunities the company offered.

Resources like this can serve as a bridge between employer branding and candidate experience efforts, helping to position your company as helpful and welcoming from day one. They might even provide the final push candidates need to apply, especially in cases like virtual internships where they may not know what to expect.

2. Making the virtual screening process more empathetic and human

One-way interviews and other automated screening tools can help companies assess candidates virtually before deciding with whom to move forward. But since many of these tools use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze factors like tone of voice and nonverbal cues, candidates facing other pressures at home — like caring for young children who might interrupt at any moment — may be at a disadvantage. After all, if the tool picks up that they seem distracted, they may not have the opportunity to explain why, which could leave candidates feeling unfairly treated.

To combat this and create a more empathetic candidate experience for all, media investment company GroupM adjusted it’s screening process early into the pandemic to account for candidates’ varying at-home situations.   

“This crisis has led us to reimagine recruiting,” Michael Wright, GroupM’s global head of talent acquisition, told CNBC. “We immediately adapted our [artificial intelligence]-driven video interview tools to be more empathetic and more contextually aware than they were pre-COVID.”

To supplement these AI screenings and ensure the human connection is not lost, GroupM has also adopted what it calls “video handshakes,” allowing them to get to know candidates better.

“[These are] more focused on discovering what people can be and become,” Michael explains, “rather than what they do and have done.”

3. Giving candidates a virtual office tour 

According to a LinkedIn survey, the No. 1 way candidates want to learn about your company culture is through an office visit. But because bringing candidates to the office may not be an option right now, some companies are flipping the script and bringing the office to potential hires in the form of a virtual tour. 

Constellation Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sends its office tour video to candidates before their interview. It even highlights various members of the team as the camera passes, letting candidates know who they are and what they do:

Along the way, remote candidates also get a feel for the company culture, with the camera focusing on things like the team’s food-themed photo wall and the “Constellation Kids” picture board. And since the video is filmed from a first-person perspective, it helps candidates visualize working there. 

Of course, not every company has a prerecorded video in its back pocket from before the pandemic made it difficult (if not impossible) to film one. However, cloud monitoring company Datadog found an ingenious way around this — piecing together tours of its various offices from photos and videos taken by employees over the years. Here’s a look inside the Dublin office:

“[We wanted] to give candidates a true feel for #datadoglife,” Riley Stefano, Datadog’s recruitment marketing manager, explained on LinkedIn.

4. Being transparent about what the culture looks like now — not just what it looked like before

While many candidates are interested in learning what life will be like at your company after the pandemic, they also want to know what it’s like now. That’s why SimpliSafe has trained its hiring teams to communicate thoughtfully and intentionally about the company’s current remote culture.

“[The focus is] less on what life was like in the office pre-COVID, with perks like Bagel Thursdays and catered Friday lunches and happy hours,” explains Larry Jacobson, global head of talent acquisition at SimpliSafe, “and more on conveying our culture of collaboration, communication, and respect, and how we have continued to live that out in this new normal.”

Jacobson notes that these conversations are especially important during the virtual hiring process because “there is going to be a gap since candidates no longer have the benefit of sitting in the waiting room and observing lunch time, hallway conversations, or meetings in progress.” By giving clear examples of how your culture plays out in a virtual setting, you can ensure candidates have the complete picture, letting them know you’re committed to transparency.

5. Attaching helpful resources to the virtual job interview invite

When it comes to interviews, whether in-person or virtual, creating a positive candidate experience starts with setting up potential hires for success. This is one area in which Blinkist shines. Before every interview, the nonfiction book summary service sends candidates an overview of what to expect, including the names of people they will meet and some resources to help them prepare.

  • Snippet of Interview Prep/Overview sent to candidates before an interview with Blinkist:  Hiring team: Your Recruiter: Tom Your Hiring Manager: Ashley  How to prepare: — You can start by exploring our app for free with this voucher — Feeling a little nervous? Why don’t you read our tips on how to nail your job interview? — Did you know that Blinkist is a self-manager organization? Learn more about the Blinkist Operating System here — Have a look at the Blinkist Magazine and learn about our teams and culture

Among these resources are tips for nailing the interview, links to learn more about the company’s culture and organizational structure, and a voucher code to try the Blinkist app. This gives candidates a firmer understanding of what the company does and allows them to formulate better questions.

This approach has been praised by both in-person and remote candidates, including those who ultimately don’t land a role at Blinkist — many of whom send thank-you notes and sometimes even gifts to the company’s recruiting team.

6. Replicating the onsite candidate experience by sending care packages and using office pictures as backgrounds in video interviews

In a recent poll, Gartner found that 86% of organizations are incorporating video conferencing tools and other virtual technology to interview candidates during COVID-19. But that doesn’t have to mean abandoning the feel of the office visit altogether.

For example, online grocery delivery service Instacart is re-creating the onsite experience in candidates’ homes by sending them a care package ahead of their interview. Each package includes a branded mug, a tote bag, and a brochure containing useful information about Instacart, its culture, and the grocery industry as a whole.

  • Image of care package components sent to remote candidates before an interview with Instacart, including a digital brochure, branded mug, tote bag, and coffee voucher.

“Typically, one of the first things you do when greeting a candidate for an onsite interview is ask if they’d like something to drink,” Rian Finnegan, Instacart’s senior manager of employer brand and recruitment marketing, explains in an article on LinkedIn. “We wanted to extend this same warmth and hospitality to our at-home candidates.”

To further convey the onsite candidate experience, Instacart’s recruiters also organically began changing their backgrounds during video interviews to pictures of the office. Anyone can do this — you just need a high-quality photo.

“Sure, it might be nice sometimes to see recruiters or hiring managers in their homes,” Rian writes, “but why not seize this as another opportunity to showcase your office?”

  • Screenshot of Instacart employee doing a video interview with a photo of company's snack wall

7. Celebrating new hires on social media

After a candidate accepts the job offer, a simple way to make them feel like part of the team is to give them a shout-out on social media. While many companies have been doing this for years, this strategy is especially useful right now when you may not be able to welcome them in person.

One company that has adopted this approach is Social Notebook, a digital marketing agency based in Uttar Pradesh, India. It recently welcomed new hires on Twitter, providing a few details about their backgrounds along with a photo of them.

  • Twitter post welcoming new hire to the company Social Notebook. Post includes a photo of new employee and the following copy:  Everyone, meet Anushka Pandey. She’s our new Content writer and the latest addition to the Social Notebook fam.  Pursuing BA Honors in Political Science from @LSRDU.  #newhire #newmember #contentcreator #saturdayvibes #socialnotebook

Fact & Fiction, a creative content shop based in Boulder, Colorado, also shares pictures of its new hires on social media. In addition to welcoming its newest team members with “warm virtual hugs and socially-distanced high fives” on LinkedIn, it shares amusing pictures of them hooked up to a polygraph machine — a fun play on the company’s name.

  • LinkedIn post welcoming new hires to the company Fact & Fiction. Post includes a photo of new employees photoshopped into an image of someone hooked up to a lie detector test, plus the following copy:  Super happy to welcome our new Associate Creative Director and writer Ricky Lambert and new Account Manager Sarah Potter to the Fact & Fiction team.  Ricky joins us after a decade working at some of the best agencies in the Denver area. He’s climbed 30 “14ers” and once created a virtual creative director with Google play.  Sarah comes to us via Anheuser-Busch. She recently got Yahtzee 3 times in a single game and has been to 149 breweries in Colorado. For fun.  Warm virtual hugs and socially-distanced high fives to our newest team members!  #zoomscreenshotphotoshop #welcometotheteam #newhires #factandfiction #newhire #meettheteam

Relion Battery, a South Carolina–based lithium battery company, likes to share a fun fact about its new hires. In a recent Instagram post, the company welcomed its new senior product manager, who happens to be an avid runner and marathon pacer.

8. Providing a smooth and welcoming onboarding experience at home

The transition from candidate to employee is a critical aspect of the candidate experience, helping set the tone for a person’s time with the company. And with many new hires currently starting remotely, companies are working out how to handle that transition seamlessly from afar.

In many cases, a big part of that is ensuring the new hire has everything they need for their first day. Lalamove, Asia’s leading local delivery platform, aims to delight its new hires by sending some company swag and a surprise gift along with their laptop.

  • Photograph of swag sent to new Lalamove employees, including a sweatshirt and mystery box.

Soluto, a device protection service based in Tel Aviv, also sends a welcome gift to its new remote hires. In a post on Medium, Shir Peri Lichtig, Soluto’s developer relations manager, notes that while employees would usually find a gift waiting on their desk on their first day in the office, “office perks work at home too.” 

As you can see below, those perks include good coffee and lumbar support — which are great for fueling productivity wherever an employee is working.

  • Photograph of new Soluto employee with the welcome gifts sent to all new employees, including espresso pot, lumbar support product to add to your chair, and a bouquet of flowers.

Soluto has also found a way to re-create the social aspects of its onboarding program. Rather than treating new hires to a team lunch on their first day, it now invites them to a virtual party.

  • Screenshot of Soluto employees welcoming a new Product Manager over a virtual Zoom party.

Final thoughts

For some candidates, this may be the first time they’ve interviewed for or started a new job remotely. And while some tried-and-true aspects of the candidate experience aren’t easy to do right now, putting the candidate first and showcasing your culture are two that don’t depend on geography — and which will make a lasting impression.

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*Photo by Instacart