Home office communication can be challenging with people you already know and work with. It becomes even more so when you need to get to know people remotely and decide whether or not to hire them. The good news is that remote job interviews are location-independent, so you have a larger talent pool available. But beware: if you want to hire someone from a third country, there are additional hurdles, but that’s another topic, which I will not talk about in this blog post.
However, the shift to remote recruiting & onboarding, whether voluntary or not, gives us not only new opportunities, but also new challenges. In order to improve your chances to find the right person remotely and giving them the best chance of success as a new or incoming teammate, there are some adjustments to the process that you should consider.
1. Use different communication channels
Since you used to interview candidates face-to-face, you may think that switching to video interviews is sufficient. But a remote setting is not a natural interview environment. Due to technical limitations the flow of speech is interrupted more often, and parallel speaking is not possible. Therefore, if your goal is to assess the fit of a person’s communication style to the team, you should vary the platforms or communication mediums along the interview process.
What varying communication mediums could look like: In our company, we are all experts in remote settings, as we were already communicating remotely from distributed locations before the pandemic. Much of the conversation takes place in writing via MS Teams. However, writing limits expressiveness compared to conversations in the office. For you, that could mean one round of conversations is conducted via video, another via chat, and another via audio call only. When you include all the mediums your team uses to collaborate in the interview process, you determine whether the candidates are comfortable with those mediums and shed light on their communication skills at different levels.
2. Bring the whole team in
Since I’ve been working in agile and making group decisions with my team, I’ve noticed how powerful swarm intelligence is. Also, collaboration and team dynamics have a significant impact on individual performance. Therefore, it pays off to include as many people from the future team in the hiring process as you reasonably can.
The process at borisgloger works like this: One of our recruiters conducts an initial interview by phone, then provides the application documents to the teams, and the teams that are interested in the candidate arrange a second interview with some members of the team. As the team is directly involved in the interview, we increase the likelihood that the person is a cultural fit for them. However, by having a recruiter conduct the initial interview, we are not jumping right in, but giving the candidate some space. Since we constantly work remotely and have a special “remote” culture, we are used to video calls and sometimes forget that meeting the whole team in such a setting can be overwhelming for a candidate.
3. Conduct a trial project
The ultimate way to include the team in the hiring decision and evaluate how candidates work with the team is to have them work with the team. Now I’m not talking about individual work, as I’ve often had to do, e.g. work on a case study or an exam. We don’t do that at borisgloger consulting.
However, there are techniques from assessment centers that give you the chance to observe each candidate and how they like to work. You could even design a mock project to assess their adaptability or creative thinking. If you involve the team, don’t forget to ask them to share specific pros and cons about a potential hire.
An example: A moderator presents an initial situation. After that, the group may ask questions, and the presenter may only answer “yes” or “no”. My favorite starting situation: Romeo and Juliet are lying dead in a room on the floor next to a puddle of water. The window is open, and the door is locked from the inside. What happened. The focus is not on solving the problem quickly, but on how the participants interact in group work. By the way, the game is also great fun at parties. Here’s the solution: Romeo and Juliet are fish. The window was pushed open by the wind, their fish tank fell to the floor and broke.
As an alternative to a question-and-answer game, you can ask creative questions to target personality and values:
- “Imagine you were a bar. What would your atmosphere be like? Describe yourself.”
- “Imagine you get 10,000 euros and you’re on a shopping street. What would you buy?”
4. Communicate expectations early and often
The mere fact of interviewing remotely and hiring employees remotely has surprised many executives. But as companies look to make a gradual (and likely hybrid) return to the office, there will be many more surprises – including for candidates. When it comes to where remote hires will actually work, communicate this to applicants early, often and clearly in the process. If your company has a specific remote roadmap for the future, share as much of it as possible in the job posting and during initial interviews. If not, at least communicate as best you can what is known about the company’s remote plans or what is being discussed in terms of future policies.
Likewise, be upfront about expectations regarding communication or guidelines for team or department collaboration.
At borisgloger consulting, as I said, we work almost exclusively remotely. There is no obligation to go to the office. At some locations – like mine – we don’t even have one. If we need one, we rent co-working spaces. We communicate this openly in job interviews, as there are candidates who would like to work in an office on a regular basis.
5. After the signing: invest in relationship building
If you make an offer to the candidate or candidates and it is accepted, make sure you prioritize welcoming them to the team and the entire organization during pre- and onboarding. You could schedule a welcome video chat with the entire team to greet the new colleague(s). In addition, if you keep in touch even between the signing of the contract and the start of the job, this might make the launch easier.
At our company, we do extensive onboarding, and the new hire is assigned a mentor. If you’ve followed the suggestions above, many team members have already met the new hire during the interview process and can provide valuable input during a welcome chat. Here are two possible check-in questions: what stood out to them and what are they looking forward to about working together?
All 5 points are aimed at the candidate’s ability to work in a team and the involvement of the candidate(s) in the team. The ability to work in a team is even more important in remote work, even though it may not seem so. Because remote workers don’t work alone, they work alone together.
Speaking of recruiting: We are always on the lookout for exciting personalities who share our values. Take a look at our job postings or send us an unsolicited application. Click here to go to the careers page.
Picture: DocuSign, Unsplash