Remote Hiring: How to Find The Right Candidates

Remote Hiring: How to Find The Right Candidates

Mac Hasley
Written by Mac Hasley
January 9, 2018
Things You Can Doto Find Candidates

How do you hire someone you’ve never really met?

There’s no waiting room, no handshakes, no suits or ties. No sitting across from each other nervously at a long table. No face-to-face interaction to help you gauge: “this person will work well with the team.”

Well, here’s how we do it.

A week or so into working at Convert, I saw a video pop up in slack. It was someone explaining how to brew “a perfect cup of coffee.”

Below that: a video explanation of endocrine disruptors. And then an explanation of how video compresses for streaming.

Turns out—these were videos from applicants. And they were fun to watch. But more importantly—they were a thorough, intentional piece of our application process. And they went a long way into sussing out not just “can you do the work?”—”but can you work with us?”

Fit your application, to your work style.

At Convert—we’ve come up with our own strategies for communicating across time zones, cultures, and WiFi speeds. They involve a weird mix of slack channels, calls, videos, gifs, and asana tags.

Folks who will work well here, have to communicate well across these platforms. It’s so essential, it’s become an integral part of our application process.

No matter what role you’re applying for at Convert—you go through Round 1: a written, audio, and video based “get to know” you portion.

To pass Round 1:

You have to follow directions… I get applications submitted in a spreadsheet. If you don’t follow directions on a question, I make that question “red.” For video, audio, and written—if you get one red square—the application is flushed.

Morgan Legge, HR Champion @ Convert

Simple? You’d think…

But the format isn’t so much to determine “can you follow orders.” Converters have to be self-driven, after all. It’s about whether you can work with us, without working near us.

If you’re too shy to submit a video, how will you adjust to having all your meetings, your presentations, your calls—over webcam?

When we make calls at Convert, we default to using video. So in the application, you really have put yourself out there. You don’t have to be super comfortable, you can be really nervous—those won’t count against you. But you have to be able to sit in front of the camera, and answer the question.

Morgan Legge, HR Champion @ Convert

Prompting applicants to submit their details across mediums, makes it clear to us whether or not they can communicate to us effectively in a remote space.

Besides–if you look at an application process like this, one that’s unique, and you think “interesting” and not “ugh, groan”—you’re probably already a better fit for our team.

Ask the right questions:

Here are the questions applicants answer to move through round 1 of our hiring process:

Video: Create a unique video for us with you as the “star”! Teach us something we probably don’t know, or tell us something that you find interesting, in less than 2 minutes.

Audio: Talk to us! Record yourself with audio only and tell us about a time you messed up at a previous job. How did you deal with it? What did you learn?

Written: Write to us! What’s the best job you’ve ever had. What made it awesome?

This is true if you’re applying for a job in marketing, or a job in dev, or a job in customer service.

We call Round 1 a “get to know you” process—and we mean it.

Fit, here, comes first. Culture is as important as qualifications. There’s an opportunity to upload a portfolio, or link to your work and experience—but it’s not the focus.

We assume that you’ve read the job description and that you can do the work.

And that’s consistent with the culture at Convert.

Unless we hear otherwise, we assume you’ll get the work done. You raise the flag. You tell us that your drowning. That’s something you need to be able to communicate, during and after the application process

Morgan Legge, HR Champion @ Convert

So when we say “teach us something” or “tell us what you find interesting” we want to learn something—we don’t want you to elaborate on your qualifications.

When we say “tell us how you messed up”—we want to hear that too. We want to know what you took from your mistakes. We don’t want humblebrags like: “sometimes I’m too punctual” or “I just work too hard.”

And we also want to know what about work excites you—to see if you’ll be as excited to work with us.

Fight your own biases.

Until the last round of interviews, Convert anonymizes applicant data.

A lot of applicant data.

Linkedin Profiles, Github pages, websites, written responses—they’re all passed to decision makers with the nonessential details, blacked out.

That means, no one sees your university. Or that impressive company that you worked for and namedrop. No one sees where you’re located, or even what timezone that is. No knows whether you’re male, or female, or from the US or Kenya or Bangladesh.

What they do know is: how you answer the questions, and what you’ve said, and can show, about your work.

That’s it.

No one is free of bias. And we’re trying to build a company where we value people who forge their own path, who learn and self-educate—it’d be to our disadvantage to give someone extra credit for going to an impressive sounding school, or working for an impressive sounding company.

If you can do the work, if you have the skills, you get a fair shake.

Morgan Legge, HR Champion @ Convert
Originally published January 09, 2018 - Updated March 02, 2021
Mac Hasley
Mac is a content strategist at Convert, a copywriter across the webz, and an advocate for marketing that is humble and kind. You'll find her doing that "digital nomad" thing on Twitter, ranting indulgently on Medium, or downing a third americano at that cafe with the good wifi.
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