Body language plays a big role in interviews, but what do you do when the person you’re interviewing is not physically in front of you? How do you identify the right person when all there is in front of you is a video and a voice? How do you establish trust with someone that you can only see on screen?
We’ve recently hired a new UI designer at Melewi. And after receiving over 300 applications in the process, we’re all thrilled and excited to welcome the newest addition to the team! While we’re ecstatic about growing the team, trying to hire remotely can sometimes prove to be a bit of a challenge.
Here are some useful tips we’ve learned from hiring a remote team:
Know what you’re looking for
Before anything else, you’ll need to sort out what you need, what you want and what kind of person you’re seeking in order to identify potential applicants. You will need a list of traits that the applicants must have, should have, could have and would be nice to have. It’s like trying to identify what features you need for your product’s MVP before adding more.
You also need to come up with a list of warning signs so you know what you should always be aware of. Is this person talking about his achievements too much, and thus could be arrogant or egoistic? Does this applicant have no experience at all and is just talking his way into making it sound like he knows a lot?
Once you have these lists, it’s going to be a lot easier to identify the sort of personality you’re looking for, and you can then have a good gauge of whether there will be culture fit or not.
Be meticulous in going through submitted materials
Resumes, CVs, cover letters, portfolios and other relevant documents are all part of the deal. Getting a ton of those and having to go through every single one of them can be exhausting. With this part, the process here is pretty much the same as with real-life interviews.
But if you’re interviewing people from all over the world without a chance of meeting them in person for a chat, you’ve got to be extra careful in weeding out the good, the bad and the ugly. It also helps a lot to have more than one set of eyes looking at these things.
As a design team, we always make sure that a designer and a non-designer both evaluate portfolios (when hiring designers). Doing this takes away the bias of a designer possibly being too picky and a non-designer possibly being too clueless.
Don’t squeeze together all interviews in a short span of time
Spread the interviews out as far as you possibly can so that every time you go to interview someone, you go in fresh. Sometimes they can run long, and it is important that you are alert and pay attention for the full duration.
The interviewee needs to feel that you are fully present and if you are sleepy or distracted, not only will you give a poor impression for your company, but you will be unable to truly evaluate your prospective employees potential. The solution to this is to schedule interviews within your most productive hours.
Pay attention to time zones
When you have a global team, and you are interviewing you need to pay attention to time zones. When interviewing our recent hire, we unknowingly scheduled the interview for 6am their time. For some candidates, an early start might prove difficult, but luckily for us, it worked in our favor, due to the interviewee being an early riser.
When it comes to time zones you need to consider the time conversion so that you don’t have people turning up to the call at the wrong time. You also need to make sure that your technology runs smoothly.
Ask the right questions and listen very hard
Tone of voice, expressions, cliches, over-enthusiasm, choice of words – these are the most important cues you have to watch for. These are as important as body language is, in a live interview. If someone isn’t excited about walking you through their portfolio, it doesn’t seem likely they enjoy what they do.
We personally like those who ask us questions in return, and those who frankly admit what went wrong in a project. If your only means of interview is through a video call, you’ve got to master reading (or in this case, listening) between the lines.
Ask a teammate to join the interview. It can be easy to miss things when talking online and having someone there to listen with you helps a lot. You can even designate roles beforehand to have someone ask the questions, and the other to take notes.
We always do two rounds of interviews – a one-on-one with our director Mel, and one that includes myself and another team member. After the interview, we each write down our separate feedback and then, later on, we get together to discuss, assess our observations and draw conclusions.
When it comes to choosing who we think will be a good fit for the team, we all have our personal favorites – But the ones we get very excited about are the candidates who get the thumbs up from all of us. We consider this a promising sign of culture fit.
Establish ground rules from the start
The video feature must be switched on. The Internet connection should be decent enough. These rules are non-negotiable.
It’s good to mention your rules right after you give a brief overview of how the interview will go. Assess the connection for both environments immediately. If there is too much distraction, it’s best just to reschedule.
Having said that, we’d like to mention that here at Melewi, we’re very casual. How do we play by the rules by remaining laid-back? Well, that’s a different story that we’ll share next time!
Do you have any additional tips you’d like to add to the discussion or any other thoughts you’d like to share? If so, we’d love to hear from you – reach us on Twitter at @melewi.