The hiring process is a negotiation, with a view to form a partnership. Technically, that partnership is between a business and an employee. But in reality, it is a partnership between human beings who need to work together to achieve common goals.
Does that mean you have to meet each candidate in person before hiring them? Not necessarily. But you do need a plan for overcoming the challenges that physical distance creates.
It’s common to distinguish between skills and behaviour. Thinking of hiring in this way helps break down the assessment into targeted components.
Here is a simple four-step process to apply this approach to remote hiring:
1. Separating the substantive and human touch components
Start with the job description and align the hiring process to the daily activities that will be performed in the role.
First, make a short list of all the things you’d like to assess. Next, split the things that fall into the “human touch” category.
These are things you would normally gauge when you’re in the same room as someone, such as chemistry, warmth or communication style.
Resist the temptation to label every so-called soft skill as “human touch”. For example, things like grit, motivation or teamwork are very substantive and can be assessed online and offline.
The way to think about the “human touch” category is to focus on things you pick up in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. It’s the first impression. Let’s call everything else “substantive”.
2. Substantive assessment
Use performance-based hiring methods to assess the “substantive” skills and behaviour you identified. This includes“functional skills” and “real skills”.
Everything will be online due to the distance. You can conduct two-way, live interviews, that require you to participate in each interview. This can be done over Skype or Hangouts.
If you want to save a lot of time, you can conduct automated interviews, which are one-way, on-demand interviews, so you will only have to spend time viewing the responses.
Automated interviews will help you simulate tasks that are typically done on the job. Each candidate will answer an identical set of questions so there won’t be any interviewer bias. Writing an expert interview script is key to success here.
You may also choose to conduct an accredited personality test, or construct a cultural fit questionnaire that compares the candidate’s values and behaviour to those of your business.
This part of the hiring process should be highly structured. At the end you will know two things about your candidates: what they can do and how they approach their work.
You’re nearly there.
3. Human touch
Start with a pre-recorded video to get a sense of how the candidate speaks, smiles and makes eye contact. There are no right answers here, just intuition. What you’re looking for here is a relaxed environment, not a pressure cooker.
Ask candidates to speak about the last project they worked on or about something they really enjoy doing. The answers don’t matter. It’s about connecting on a human level.
End with a live video discussion. Keep it informal. You’re only talking to people who you know can do the job well at this stage. The focus should be on assessing fit and validating everything you learned so far.
4. Reference checks
Reference checks are an extremely important component of the hiring process and they should be used wisely. You still haven’t met your preferred candidate in person.
That’s nothing to fear, but speaking to someone who has worked directly with the person you’re about to hire will add a lot of value and fill in any remaining gaps.
The focus of the reference check should be on how the candidate interacts with others. Here are some questions to ask the referee:
When did you see the candidate out of his comfort zone?
What kind of personality type does the candidate not get along with?
What kind of management style would the candidate not respond well to?
Describe the candidate when he is having a bad day.
What does it take to get the candidate off balance?
When the candidate is at his best, what stands out the most?
If the candidate works on a project with two other peers, will he take the lead?
Keep it simple
With today’s technology, being in the same room, or even the same city, isn’t essential. An automated hiring process can overcome the tyranny of distance and save you a lot of valuable time.
This article first appeared in vervoe.com.
At Vervoe, our mission is to fundamentally transform the hiring process from mediocracy to meritocracy.