Remote Recruiting: Finding the Right Fit

Whether it's your first job or you're a seasoned recruit, the process of changing jobs can be daunting, especially in today's virtual world. Josh McInerney RGD, Manager of Creative Services at Bow Valley College, Calgary, tells us how he veered their hiring process to adapt to the changes brought forth by the pandemic. 


Tell us about the positions you have filled since the pandemic began?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I've hired two new graphic designers. 
Has the shift to remote work had an impact on the type of candidates you were looking for?
Yes for sure. We've had to look at candidates and really drill down on how comfortable they are working in a remote position.
At Bow Valley College we are still working remotely so this means fewer face-to-face interactions, meetings and brainstorms. 
The things we took for granted in the past as part of team bonding have been eroded. Joining a new team anytime is tough, but especially when you don't have those opportunities to form social bonds. Remote work, for all the flexibility it brings, can also create a feeling of real isolation. We wanted to be sure our candidates were comfortable with that arrangement. A successful candidate also has to be fairly self-motivated when working in a remote world. A positive and enthusiastic outlook is always something we look for, but I found it particularly important when hiring this time around. 
Are there any questions that you include in interviews now that you did not ask before the shift to remote work?
I've asked more questions on their past history with remote work, how they feel in that environment, what challenges they have encountered and how they've coped. 
I've inquired if they studied anything new or have learned a new skill that they wouldn't have picked up otherwise? Have they learned anything new about themselves or about their work? It speaks to people’s resilience and how they adapt to such a massive shift. It's been amazing listening to stories of how candidates have kept active, connected and motivated during the pandemic.
In general, how has the shift to working from home impacted your perspective on work and the work of your team?
Over the past two years, I've learned that creatives can work pretty much anywhere. We're no longer tethered to our cubicles to do effective and meaningful work. Humans are pretty adaptable animals so we found a way to make remote teams work. But being social animals also means that the pull to be together in person is still very strong. There is an energy of being in a room with your colleagues, working on a creative problem with post-it notes, pens and coffee that can't be replaced by Zoom. As much as we don't miss the commute to work, we miss the spark of seeing each other and bouncing ideas around in person. 
What are the plans for your office moving forward? Are you returning to the office? Do you have plans to continue to allow employees to work remotely?
As of now, we are doing a flexible work arrangement as a pilot project, so no returning to the office anytime soon for the creative team. However, with proper COVID-19 protocols and showing proof of vaccination, the team can get together when need be for brainstorm sessions. I'm in charge of bringing the coffee and hand sanitizer!