Hiring
  •  
April 23, 2020

Switching to Fully-Remote Hiring

Daniel Marcinkowski

We already covered the topic of switching to remote hiring in our previous publications, like in this 4-step guide. But what we got in return were many more detailed questions on how to get the remote setup work in a specific case. To answer these, we invited our Talent Partners — Pragnya, Gabrielle, Daniel, and Martin — onto a virtual stage to further discuss the topic of transitioning to remote hiring. They also answered the audience's most pending questions. Here's a summary of our latest Talking Talent webinar.

You can also rewatch the webinar on our YouTube channel:

If your company is still optimising remote hiring processes, we are happy to help. We just launched a free Remote Hiring Audit to support companies in the crisis. 

How to Switch Hiring from Onsite to Remote

Gabrielle Dhavernas

'Hiring by distance is not a new subject, especially for startup companies.'

Fear during video interviews

  • Not getting who the person really is
  • Not understanding personality traits
  • Being unable to build an emotional connection with the candidate

All of the above is important for building a long-term relationship with the candidate.

How to overcome fear?

  • Don't follow the gut feeling in making the final decision
  • Rely on a structured process instead and use facts when making a decision
'The current situation is a great chance to put in place a more professional, well-documented process that will work long term.'

How to build a structured interviewing process?

  • Involve more stakeholders to assess the motivation, technical skills and team-fit in individual interviews
  • Make the process longer, but faster (for example, checking off six steps in two weeks for a better candidate experience)

Use scorecards to specify who are you looking for

  • A scorecard is a document specifying outcomes. competencies, and the technical skills for the role. It's not a simple job description
  • Lists questions based on the characteristics that you're looking for

Scorecards-based Interview Guide

  • Assign the questions from the scorecards to the different stakeholders in the different parts of the process
  • The goal is to ask all of the candidates the same questions, have the answers well-documented in, for example, an ATS, and make an objective decision in the end

Hiring for the company's values

  • Determine the values of your company for a successful cultural fit
  • Determine personality traits and questions to assess them that will guarantee a good team fit

Tools for hiring remotely

  • Use Slack to update your Hiring Managers ad-hoc
  • For video calls, use tools such as Google Hangouts Meet or BlueJeans
  • If you don't use an ATS, use a task manager such as Jira or Trello
  • Use Google Drive suite for documenting the process

What's different about remote interviews?

Pragnya Challapalli

The differences

  • You get a glimpse into the candidate's life by seeing their surroundings on a video call
  • There's no small talk that is typical for an onsite interview
  • You cannot give the candidate a full picture of the company's culture, they only get an overview of the remote culture that might be polished

The differences can cause biases. We should be aware of this.

'Our unconscious mind uses instinct and not analysis.'

Is there more bias when hiring remotely?

  • Seeing a messy space, you can think that the person is not organised
  • It's called a halo effect — you take one negative or positive feature of the candidate and make your opinion about them based on it

How can we train the Hiring Managers and interviewers to be mindful of the biases?

  1. Know the interviewers and identify who will be talking to the candidates. Know who they are and understand them. Shadow them during interviews and give them feedback afterwards
  2. Nudge them to be more structured. Ask them to fill in the scorecards. Move forward with the process only after they do so
  3. Give them a checklist with skills that they are assessing. They shouldn't focus on soft skills if they should be assessing technical skills.
  4. Interview and bias training. Do a workshop or hire a person to do one.

Over-communicate

  • Collect feedback from the candidates on your hiring process
  • Check-in with the candidates before and after interviews

Onboarding remotely

  • Implement a buddy system to help the new-joiners in the first days. You can use a Slack plugin called Donut.
  • Have regular check-ins to see what's the progress of their onboarding
  • Have a checklist for the onboarding process

Q&A

What communication setup with the hiring manager would you recommend to keep the candidate review and interviewing process as fast and efficient as possible?

For long-text communication, email is still a great solution. For a more direct one, Slack. For things that are harder to communicate via text, video or a phone call. It's important to mix these things and be flexible. 

Action everything as fast as possible. Send calendar invitations and use tools such as Trello to have transparency in the interview process.

What tips can you give hiring managers and candidates to have the best remote hiring experience?

Ease into the interview with a non-work-related conversation. Note down all the questions they might have. Explain the agenda of the call beforehand so that the candidate has as much information on the process as possible. Over-communicate and check with the candidate that they got everything you said.

What makes a difference is to put the whole hiring team into the process. Explain all of the steps. There are a lot of chit-chats during the onsite interviews that won't happen. Also, make sure that everyone in the process knows what the next step is in the process.

How can you show off your company's culture to candidates when we can't bring them on things like culture fit lunches?

Cultural fit is a wide subject on its own. Culture is passing through the people, not your office. Sometimes it's easier to understand the company's culture when working remotely. Have the candidates meet as many stakeholders as possible to achieve that.

Have as much information about your company as possible on your website. A company called Hotjar does this: they talk about their C-levels and provide information about their culture. Be as open before you even have an interview with someone. You should be getting a lot of people interested in the company more than just the role itself. Ask your current employees why they chose to work for you.

'Culture is passing through the people, not your office.'
How can companies hire to adjust their remote hiring processes for non-technical roles?

Engineering is ahead in remote hiring because they have been working on remote for the past 20 years and they have processes that have prepared them for the current situation. In Africa, there are a lot of people working remotely for companies in the US etc. It's unique to engineering because that's how they work so that it happens naturally. In other roles, there was a perception that you need to do everything in person. People are currently discovering how much can be achieved remotely. A lot of traditional companies are rethinking what can be done online and what has to be done in person.

How trained in interviewing should the team be before doing peer interviews?

As much as they can. During the peer interviews, you ask a lot of questions that are not role-focused per se. You want a more holistic overview of the role. People who are doing the interviews shouldn't only ask generic questions. Peer interviews are an opportunity to answer key questions. In between stages, we assess the scorecard to see if we answered all the questions and what the progress of the interview process is. 

What do you think about casual job interviews?

They can be really useful for the cultural fit. You can ask them how they liked the team and the office — it's great for the candidate. But if the interview is for the company, you can easily get a wrong picture of the person.

Summary

Daniel Sedgwick:

'You need to understand that the candidate needs to know as much about the company as possible.'

Gabrielle Dhavernas:

'Try to make the process between the hiring managers and the candidates as smooth as possible. Give them a lot of feedback.'

Martin Janse van Rensburg:

We are facing an infrastructural problem. Think about the problem from scratch without trying to mimic the traditional processes. Rethink them entirely instead. Put in effort and investment to get these things to work.'

We have more great webinars ahead of us. Check our company page on Livestorm to sign up for the upcoming events.

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