During the pandemic, I took a leap of faith and started my own tech startup. Little did I know that remote work would become the new norm, not just for my team, but for countless other businesses as well.
As I juggled the challenges of launching a company, I found myself adapting to the remote work lifestyle alongside my team. Even my kids had to embrace the virtual world as they attended school through Zoom calls.
Let me take you back to 2017 when I was hustling to build my first company. Our recruitment process at that time revolved around in-person interviews, but things changed when I embarked on my second entrepreneurial adventure during the pandemic. I quickly realized that if I wanted to assemble a stellar team, I needed to cast a wider net and explore talent from all corners of the world. It was like unlocking a ton of possibilities, tapping into a diverse pool of candidates with fresh perspectives and exceptional skills. Remote work became the key that opened doors to global talent, and it completely transformed the way I approached recruitment.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) played a major role in making the entire interview and onboarding process a breeze for our company. With VoIP, I could seamlessly conduct interviews with candidates from different time zones, chat with them in real-time, and get a true sense of their skills and personalities. It was like having a face-to-face conversation even when we were miles apart. This technology not only saved time and money but also improved the overall recruitment experience for my company.
In this article I am going to share three key areas where VoIP can make a significant difference in your business, from the interviewing stage to the remote management of new hires.
1. Interviewing candidates who are far away
Remote work has greatly widened the pool of available talent but has also made it necessary for businesses to find innovative solutions for interviewing candidates who aren’t local. A business VoIP service can help with this. VoIP is a type of communication that transmits voice and multimedia content over the internet instead of traditional phone lines. This allows businesses to modernize their communications while greatly reducing dependence on costly on-site phone equipment.
VoIP also makes it easy to interview candidates from just about anywhere. I’ll give you a real-world example:
I founded a company called TopicRanker in 2022 and our team has grown to 9 people since then. We recently hired a customer education specialist who resides in Toronto, Canada (our company is based in New Hampshire). We were introduced to the candidate through a mutual friend and were immediately interested in their talents and experience. But before making a decision, we wanted to make sure that the candidate was a good fit for our company culture and had the necessary skills to perform the job.
To begin the screening process, our HR team looked over the candidate’s LinkedIn profile and contacted their past employers. We then scheduled VoIP conference calls to talk to their references and get a better understanding of their skills and work history.
We also set up three-way conference calls with multiple members of the TopicRanker team and the candidate. This helped us to get a better sense of the prospect’s personality and communication skills, as well as ask questions specific to the job. The ability to have multiple people on the call allowed us to get a diverse range of opinions on the candidate and make a more informed hiring decision.
We then interviewed the candidate through video conference calls. This allowed us to speak “face to face” (virtually, anyway) and to connect with the candidate visually, which is something that is lost during a standard phone interview. We were therefore able to have a much more interactive conversation, helping us to better assess the candidate’s qualifications and personality.
Finally, to test the prospect’s skills, we created an interactive challenge on our site and had the candidate work on it live while sharing their screen and data through our VoIP system. This gave us a clearer understanding of the candidate’s ability to perform the duties required for the job. Overall, the entire screening and interview process was conducted using VoIP tools, allowing us to thoroughly interview and hire a candidate who lived far away.
Using a VoIP system for remote interviews has numerous benefits. These include convenience, cost-effectiveness, and the ability to connect with professionals around the world. VoIP capabilities like video conferencing and file sharing also allow for a more thorough interview for remote candidates using equipment that most businesses already have (such as computers, webcams, and smartphones).
2. Onboarding remote employees
Onboarding remote hires is a challenge, but with the right tools, it can be just as effective as onboarding employees in person. At TopicRanker, we’ve found our VoIP system to be essential for bringing on remote employees. Here are some of the specific tools and strategies we’ve recently used to onboard engineers and a marketer:
- Conference calls: Conference calls are an easy and effective way to begin the onboarding process. By using VoIP for this, we’re able to easily connect with remote employees and have real-time conversations with multiple team members. This allows us to ask questions, provide feedback, and discuss important information in a timely manner. Besides a VoIP system, you can use Zoom and Skype for handling conference calls, and they even offer features like screen sharing and call recording.
- Online training: Another tool we’ve found to be useful for onboarding remote employees is online meetings. At TopicRanker we use our business phone system to host online meetings to conduct live training with new hires. These meetings allow us to provide remote trainees with the same level of instruction and guidance that they’d receive in person (although our team is fully remote). By using VoIP for online training meetings, we’re able to involve more team members and provide real-time feedback, which is critical for efficient onboarding.
- File and data sharing: File sharing is another VoIP tool that we use to onboard remote employees. This allows us to share important files and documents via the internet—if you’ve ever used something like Google Drive before, then you’re already familiar with the consent. Shared data can include things like employee handbooks, training manuals, and other important documentation, as well as any tests or learning materials we may require for training.
By using VoIP for orientation and training, we’re able to provide remote hires with the same level of training and support they’d get in person. It also ensures consistency and compliance during the onboarding process. This allows us to more effectively onboard all of our employees, wherever they happen to be and foster a smooth and efficient integration into our company’s work culture.
3. Managing remote employees
After interviewing, hiring, and onboarding, comes management. Remotely managing employees comes with a unique set of challenges, but unified VoIP communications can make it much easier. I mentioned earlier that at TopicRanker, our team is fully remote. We currently employ professionals in Hungary, Canada, and Arizona, and we’ve found the following VoIP tools to be particularly useful for management:
- Video conferencing: Video conferencing is a key tool for managing a remote team. We use video calls and conferences for regular meetings between employees as well as to connect with candidates and new hires, as outlined above. These video meetings allow us to communicate quickly, provide more personalized training and support, and ensure that everybody’s on the same page for any project. Video conferencing is particularly useful for providing visual data when necessary and for building and maintaining good relationships between team members.
- Presence: Presence is another important consideration for managing remote employees. We use tools like online chat to check employee availability and ensure that we’re able to reach people quickly when necessary. We can also use VoIP collaboration and scheduling tools to see when employees are online and available, which helps us to set meetings and manage time more effectively. This is particularly important when working with remote employees across different time zones. We also like to integrate our VoIP collaboration tools with a note taking tool such
- Call recording: We employ call recording as a tool for tracking team member performance, as well as to create reference materials for future training. By recording calls with remote employees, we’re able to see their development over time and identify areas for improvement. We also use these recordings as training material for onboarding new employees.
At TopicRanker, VoIP tools for managing remote employees have proved critical to the success of our team. A streamlined VoIP system has enabled us to more effectively manage our global professionals and ensure that everyone is collaborating smoothly.
In the age of remote work, good communication is essential to the success of any company. Implementing a good VoIP phone system is one of the best ways to enhance the hiring and onboarding process for remote employees for businesses large and small. Whether it’s interviewing candidates who are far away, onboarding new hires, or managing a team of pros dotted around the globe, a modern VoIP system allows for real-time communication and collaboration—without requiring a mountain of costly hardware.