The Single Reason Atlanta Employers Should Interview Long-Distance Candidates

The war for talent in Atlanta is a very real problem. We have a significant shortage in the areas of healthcare, logistics and IT, among others. Also, our unemployment rate for college-degreed workers is one of the lowest in the country at just over 2 percent. But there is a pool of qualified talent that is often overlooked or used only as a last resort…Newcomers.

Atlanta continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the country in spite of our traffic headaches. In fact, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) recently released a population forecast that predicts our city will add 2.5 million people by the year 2040. Because most people start a job search prior to relocating, this means thousands of people each year are job-hunting remotely.

Why interview long-distance candidates? Because you need the best talent, right? Then you’ll need to start fishing from a bigger pond. And, that requires Atlanta employers to get comfortable interviewing and completing the hiring process using video technology. The market demands it, and it’s not as risky as you might believe.

Interviewing and hiring remotely is just a hop, not a leap

Employers have been using Skype, Face Time and other online video conferencing tools as an upgraded alternative to the traditional phone screen, but then still incorporating a site visit to complete the hiring process. But is that really necessary? Why can’t we complete the entire hiring process remotely?

To do so, employers first need to embrace the idea of hiring long-distance candidates. The reality is most soon-to-relocate candidates won’t move until they accept a position in the new city. So you can either embrace technology or pay to fly them to your location for an interview.

I understand some of the fears employers have about hiring someone who hasn’t yet moved, which include not wanting to pay relocation expenses and the chance that the candidate won’t adjust well to the area. But these newcomers might be exactly who you’ve been searching for, so counting them out because they’re not easily available for in-person interviews is short-sided thinking.

Three advantages of hiring soon-to-relocate candidates by video

  1. Larger pool of candidates. Interviewing is a numbers game, so the more candidates you have to choose from, the better your opportunity of finding a star. Next time you receive a resume with a soon-to-relocate candidate, jump to the work history and accomplishments before dismissing it.
  2. Less expensive. With video interviews, you get all the advantages of seeing one another, showing the workplace and assessing cultural fit through body language and communication exchanges without having to pay travel expenses. Aren’t these the very same things employers achieve through a traditional in-person interview?
  3. More efficient. Employers can schedule video interviews back to back with little downtime. There’s less chance of running into traffic delays, which is a legitimate concern in Atlanta.

Nail the video interview with these tips

A video interview requires the same level of professionalism as an in-person interview, and it starts with preparation! Follow these tips and trust that you can see great results from interviewing and hiring remotely.

  • Verify you have the time zones correct when you schedule the interview. You don’t want to miss out on a great candidate by being an hour late.
  • Test your video conferencing platform whether that’s Skype, Face Time, GoToMeeting or any of the other solutions available. You don’t want delays because of spotty Internet service.
  • Be dressed as you would for any other formal professional occasion and expect the candidate to be dressed appropriately, too.
  • Interview in a visually appealing location. It’s customary for interviews to happen in a boardroom, so avoid conducting the phone interview in a messy office space. And, don’t set up shop at Starbucks with your laptop and ear buds. (Yes, I’ve seen this!)
  • Eliminate disruptions by closing the door, using your phone’s “do not disturb” feature and closing your email program.
  • Be aware of your body language. Mirroring one another’s movement shows interest and builds trust. Lean in, use your hands and smile.

Attracting out-of-town candidates to your organization needs to be a solid part of your recruiting strategy when we’re facing a labor shortage as dire as ours. Yes, you might have to wait for your perfect hire to relocate, but great talent is worth it.

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