5 tips for hiring managers
Building a high-performing remote development team is not an easy task, but it’s not an impossible one either. It requires hard work and dedication through all phases of the operation – hiring, managing and retaining people, but it pays back with efficiency and great results. Previously we’ve talked about managing a remote dev team, and now we would like to share a few tips on how to boost the setup phase – hiring the right people remotely.
Know what you are looking for & what you are offering
Having a clear vision of the skillset and the persona type of the people you are looking for is vital not only when hiring remotely. It makes the process smoother and saves time. And when the interviews are remote, it will help you quickly assess whether the candidate has the essential skills and qualities to work in a distributed team or not.
A simple but effective tactic is to very carefully go through the job description of the position you’re interviewing for. Review it and highlight the top required technical skills and a few that are nice to have. Also, describe with a few sentences the personality that would fit in the company’s and team’s culture. Having those on paper will help you pay attention to the most important criteria and focus on quality candidates.
Also, if you are looking to recruit people from a particular location, make sure you research the cultural specifics of the region. Having cultural diversity is great, but in order to evaluate foreign candidates objectively, you need to take into consideration the aspects of their culture that may differ from your own. If working with a domestic services provider that helps you build a dedicated team there, consult them - they can give you some useful guidelines.
Another important thing here is to properly communicate your expectations with the recruitment team you collaborate with. This will help them provide candidates that match your expectations in the sourcing stage and will save a lot of everybody’s time.
Another aspect you need to think about in advance is your offering to candidates. Think of the bestselling points of the position and the company. Should it be professional growth and knowledge, work-life balance and flexibility, cutting-edge technologies or something else, make sure to shortlist the top benefits you offer. It will help you a lot in presenting the position to the candidates during the interview. Of course, don’t forget to pay attention to what’s important for the specific candidate and adjust your pitch by elaborating more on these topics.
Use video calls for the interview
Conducting the interviews through video calls adds more personal touch and lets you get a more comprehensive impression of the candidate. According to various studies around 55% of what we say is being expressed through body language, therefore using the camera feature during interviews is essential. And as the interview process is a two-side evaluation, the candidate will also get a better image of you and the position offered. This is very important, especially when trying to attract candidates that are not actively looking for a new job.
Make sure to be well prepared for the video call. Carefully review the candidate’s profile, think of a few main points for discussion during the interview and bring on the list of skills needed. In order to be able to easily compare candidates try to conduct a “semi-structured” interview – prepare a set of questions you always ask, however also dig deeper into the specific experience and knowledge of each candidate.
After that, find a quiet place to conduct the interview from and check out your tech equipment - internet connection, battery, camera and microphone and prepare a pair of earphones. Also, mute any notifications and ensure you won’t be disturbed during the interview. This contributes to a smoother conversation and demonstrates that you value the candidates’ time. The respective attitude from their side also speaks about their work ethics and habits, and interest in the position.
Pay attention to those few details
Usually, the qualities important for a remote position shouldn’t be very different from those for an on-site one. But slightly adjusting the weight of several abilities will help you better evaluate the candidates for your distributed team.
When hiring remotely, make sure to pay attention to the following details:
- Written communication
The drawback of the remote work is the lack of face to face communication. Your team members are not able to wave at you across the room and get a quick answer to an instant question or to catch up on some task during the coffee break. This increases the amount of written communication and may take a lot of your time in the working process. Besides your ability to distribute and communicate the tasks during regular catch-ups, very important here is also the ability of your team members to understand the assignments and to be able to communicate clearly through email and instant messages.
Observing the candidates’ questions and responses in the email communication during the hiring process will show you how they handle the written exchange of information and will give you a hint if they will be able to cope with the remote work process.
- Body language
Although the video calls limit your abilities to observe all the aspects of nonverbal communication, there are still some details you can pay attention to. Facial expressions, eyes’ movement, hands’ gestures are all part of the body language that could give you useful information about the person’s true opinion on certain topics.The environment they are in during the interview could also give you some indications of how well they have tried to prepare for the interview, but also how they would potentially handle work-related calls in the future.
- Dedication during the practical task and/or pair programming simulation
Setting up a stage in the recruitment process where you could evaluate the technical skills of the candidates in practice is also a good opportunity to observe their work ethics and habits.
If you are evaluating the technical skills with a practical task, be mindful of how quickly the candidates return the solution, if they ask when they should return it back, and other clarifying questions. These are all good indications for their liability and attitude towards the work.
In the case of a pair programming simulation, try to recreate real work situations online using video chat and screen-sharing tools. Besides evaluating the candidates’ technical knowledge and skills, make sure to pay attention to how they manage tasks and work in a team, if they are focused to resolve the task on their own or try to collaborate with others, if they are proactive, how they act when they don’t know something, etc. Observing the attitude and reactions during the simulation will give you a perspective of how candidates will work in practice and if they would be able to manage the remote work.
Different locations sometimes mean different working and free hours. Also, unpredictable things can happen, show understanding and don’t let this affect your judgement. If a candidate needs to reschedule a call, respect that and choose another suitable time for a conversation.
Being flexible with the technical requirements could also help you find the right people for your team in terms of culture and mindset. Technologies could be easily learned if people have the right attitude and potential.
Provide regular updates & timely feedback
The absence of face to face communication may lead to some misunderstandings and create the deceptive impression in candidates that something went wrong or there is a lack of progress. It could even make them drop off the process. Here the active involvement of the recruitment team is very important but so is your collaboration with them.
Questers’ recruitment team always try to stay in close touch with candidates and keep them engaged. Whether it is to inform them about the next steps or just to signal there are no updates yet, we try to stay on top of their mind and show personal interest (again, very important when dealing with passive candidates). But those efforts won’t be efficient if you as a hiring manager don’t collaborate closely with the recruitment team. It is important to quickly provide any updates you have so that you don’t lose any quality candidates. Also, remember feedback can never be too detailed – the more info you provide, the better. This way you’re helping the team get a better understanding of your needs and source better matching candidates. Another possible benefit is even rejected candidates will leave the process with positive impressions, have some food for thought on what work on to improve and who knows – you might still end up working together one day.