Founder Resources

Best Practices for Remote Hiring

Co-authored by Beth Scheer from Homebrew Ventures

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  • Leverage technology where you can to do the initial screening of applications, and make sure you have a first-rate ATS to capture candidate data and feedback. When working remotely, it’s even more important to have all the information for each candidate readily online. Systems we like include:
  • Greenhouse
  • Lever
  • During the interview phase, any sort of tech failure can make you and your company look sloppy and decrease the time recruiters and hiring managers have to evaluate each candidate. It will lead to poor data for you as interviewers and a mediocre candidate experience. To avoid this outcome, make sure to answer the following questions:
  • Is your internet connection strong?
  • Is the interview room clean/presentable/good lighting?
  • Does the interviewer have the interview information, including time, date, and links?
  • Zoom is recommended for video conferencing/interviewing. Get a Pro account for longer meetings and dedicated addresses.
  • Everytimezone is a great tool for coordinating different time zones.
  • For those who are hiring engineers and need to manage the technical piece of the interview, look for tools that allow you to show the code and collaboratively whiteboard together while still keeping a video connection active. Here are some tools we recommend:
  • Coderpad – designed specifically for this purpose and used by many top companies
  • Invision – their Freehand application is basic, lightweight and easy to use for most teams
  • Hackerrank – robust end-to-end application for hiring developers
  • Once you’ve made your hire, there are some great tools to support remote onboarding. Consider using Sapling to automatize your process from a distance.

Be thoughtful about choosing your interview team

  • Even more so with remote sessions than in person, be mindful of overall time commitment. If possible, limit the # of interviewers to the core team. 3 is a good number – research has shown that there are diminishing returns for each individual interviewer after a certain point.
  • Have each person focus on one area (examples for engineering: coding, design, general problem solving skills, role related knowledge, empathy) using behavioral interviewing. Prep them beforehand on the types of questions that will be most predictive of success.
  • Keep the process structured and repeatable – this is even more important in a remote environment where the team is not co-located.
  • Take the time to document all feedback immediately after the interview while it’s fresh – when everyone is remote that written feedback becomes even more critical.

Tip: if your standard interviews are 45 minutes, block 60 minutes on your calendar and use 15 minutes for writing feedback.

Over-communicate & actively listen

  • Remember that you will be missing out on opportunities for non-verbal communication so look for ways to emphasize verbal cues. Over-emote and look for ways to build connections.
  • When communicating over text or Slack with candidates, feel free to use emojis liberally. They add needed context and emotion to the content of your communication.
  • Importantly, don’t just simply hand out communications tools and expect employees to know how to use them. Provide a clear communications protocol and training for all interviewers.
  • Phone and video interviews are more difficult to show you are truly listening to someone. Here are some tips to help you “actively listen”:
  • Video is always preferable to audio to help increase presence and connection. Look into the camera to show you are listening.
  • After you ask a question, give someone the appropriate amount of time to respond. A few seconds of ‘lag time” are fine. The interviewee may need time to get her thoughts together prior to responding.

Close out the interview

Always make sure the candidate understands the next step(s). During a period of heightened anxiety, helping them understand what to expect makes a big difference.

  • Will they be receiving a follow up call from the hiring manager or recruiter?
  • Will they be having another Zoom interview?
  • The hiring manager needs to communicate the follow up plan with every interviewer and this must be articulated clearly to the candidates at the end of each interview.

So what should we do differently or better?

In this time of turbulence, stick with the proven basics. Think more about tightening up your process vs. changing things all together. Remember, a good interview process should be channel agnostic and as long as you are creating a bias-free way to collect data, connect with the candidate, and share feedback, you’re off to a great start. But the following will enhance the process when hiring remotely.

  • Skip the phone screen and go straight to video. This will save time and get you both better candidate data and create a better employer brand experience
  • Over communicate when using technology.
  • Tighten up your tech stack. You can get away with a more casual interview onsite but not on video.
  • Choose your interview team wisely … no more than 3 interviewers.

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