For teams that continue to work remotely, sooner or later, you’ll need to hire new team members. We’ve already discussed how much it should cost to compensate remote teams. Just as important is to consider what the hiring process looks like.
Before we get into specifics, I need to stress that regardless of your approach, you want to make sure your hiring process is well-documented so that you can be consistent in your practices. The more consistent you are, the better hiring decisions you’ll make, and the more prepared your new team members will be. And the much smoother you will scale as a company.
As Founder and CEO of Microverse, I’ve spent a lot of time hiring and developing our completely remote team, which continues to grow and thrive. Here is the best advice I have for every facet of the hiring process.
Asking the Right Questions for Your Remote Hiring Plan
Before making any kind of decisions about hiring, you need to make a plan. And the basis of a well-formulated plan is asking the right questions. Here are a few questions you can start with:
- Which countries will you be hiring from? If you only look for new team members from specific countries, make sure you have a clear reason.
- How many time zones will your team be spread across?
- What kind of salaries can you offer? Will you adjust on a country-by-country basis or will you pay based on the local salaries of where you are?
- Will you offer stock options to remote workers?
- What is your deadline for hiring?
- How long will it take to train your new hire?
There may be other questions you need to ask, but these questions will help lay the foundation for hiring. A hiring plan doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.
Finding the Person for the Role
Once your plan is in place, it’s time to begin the process that lands you the right person for the job. The first step is to write a job description that is concise and engaging. Highlight the responsibilities and qualifications for the job with an understanding that you are essentially doing a sales pitch for the role.
Make sure to include specific job requirements as well as the benefits you can offer. One thing we like to do at Microverse is to include a secret word somewhere in the job description to test if candidates have read the whole thing. It’s a good way to filter out candidates who are not thorough and detail-oriented.
Once you’ve got the job description covered, figure out who will be involved in the hiring decision. In addition to the new team members manager, as well as the colleagues they’ll interact with, ensure there’s someone in the process who can discern whether the candidate is a cultural fit.
With your hiring personnel figured out, you can start to outline the steps of your interview process (both synchronous and asynchronous) and the resources you’ll need for each:
- Candidate filtering / cover letter and resume review
- Initial interview
- Culture fit interview
- Technical interview
- The take-home or practice assignment
- Final interview
Explicitly list what you are looking for at each step of the process, including what might be considered a good, great, and outstanding response to specific interview questions. And make sure everyone involved is aligned on expectations.
Spreading the Word About the Role
Start broadcasting your job description on the networks you’re already familiar with: Indeed and LinkedIn are great tools for hiring. Make sure you tag the job description as remote every place that you post it.
At Microverse, even though we hire team members from all over the world, we don’t translate our job descriptions since we need team members who can speak and work in English.
In addition to the traditional networks, there are several sites that specifically welcome remote job postings including:
- HackerNews, which has a monthly hiring post
- Y Combinator
- Remote Global
- Remote Jobs
- We Work Remotely - charges $300 to post a job description for 30 days. In our experience, it has attracted some of the best candidates.
If you’re looking for a candidate with a specific competency, say for example, a Ruby developer, consider also posting your job description in newsletters that pertain to those products, like the Ruby Newsletter in this case. If you are looking to make your team more diverse, make that distinction on the job post itself. That way, you will be more likely to attract diversity on your team.
For certain key roles, like a Head of Business Development or a Senior Developer, it might be worth considering actively recruiting the right candidate. Personalized messages to someone who fits the profile via email or LinkedIn could help you land someone great who might not have been actively seeking a new role.
Filtering Your Applicants
Posting a job description can draw thousands of applicants for a single job. It’s important to separate high-quality applicants from the noise, especially if you’re hiring from around the world.
We use a tool called Track from AngelList for our applicant tracking system. We do initial filtering based on things that are easy to spot: First we check for the secret word. Substantively, the next thing we look for is passion. The cover letter is a good place to start.
Location is important for us. If we are looking for a software developer in Africa, for example, we will filter for it on Track right away. The same applies to time zones when we need the candidate to work certain hours. We also like to see that the candidate has experience -- especially remote experience. Candidates who have already worked remotely are more likely to have the mentality and resourcefulness it takes to thrive in this work environment.
Automating the Interview Process
Speed is important in the interview process: With high quality candidates, you want to get in touch with them as quickly as you can.
That’s why we automate coordinating when to meet with our high quality candidates using a tool called Hireflix, which allows team members to ask applicants questions through pre-recorded video messages. That way, you can move the hiring process along asynchronously. It also gives applicants a chance to get a feel for a few different people they could be working with, and gives your team the chance to be involved in the hiring process in a substantive way.
We’ve also automated the process of notifying candidates that they’ve been moved along in the hiring process. In AngelList, it allows you to send a pre-drafted invitation for the next interview in Hireflix as soon as a candidate has been identified to proceed.
Some candidates may be uncomfortable with this asynchronous form of interviewing, so it’s best to address this right away in the interview process. It’s also important to let candidates know they will eventually get a face-to-face interview.
If you’re hiring across time zones, you can stress to the candidates that the Hireflix is an important first step for seeing how well they are capable of working asynchronously. The advantage of approaching interviewing this way is that it allows you to move to the next step much faster.
After a face to face interview, it’s time for a take-home assignment, specifically something that resembles a task the candidate will have to do in that role.
Narrowing Down Your Top Candidates
Once you can see that a candidate is a good hands-on worker, it’s time for a cultural interview. At Microverse, we like to pick a team member who has a strong grasp of our values to conduct the cultural interview. That team member asks the candidate questions to determine whether they are a good cultural fit.
The interviewer has a rubric with answers to each question with different assigned ratings. This gives us a standardized way to determine whether someone is a cultural fit. Candidates who perform well on the cultural interview make it to the final interview. For companies up to 50 people, it’s best to have the CEO conduct the final interview.
As Founder and CEO, I see it as my job to make sure people coming on board really believe in what we’re doing. I also do a last-minute check to make sure the person is a good cultural fit as well as give the candidate the opportunity to ask anything they might want to know about the company.
Keep in mind that speed is important in this process. For your strongest candidates, it’s likely they’ll be considering multiple opportunities. The faster you can get strong candidates through the process, the better the hires you’ll be able to make.
At any point in the process, you may find that the candidate is just not the right fit for the role. It could happen in the earliest part of the process, during the take-home assignment, the cultural interview, or in some cases, during the final interview.
So what’s the best way to tell the candidate that it’s not a good fit? I like to say that the level of care you put into the rejection should reflect the amount of work and time that the candidate has put into the hiring process.
If a candidate just wrote a short cover letter showing some interest in the job but never followed up and never made it to the interview, in the interest of time, it probably is not worth it to write back to the candidate. If you reject a candidate who makes it to an interview, it’s polite to send them a short thank-you note for their time.
The closer that the candidate makes it to the final interview without being offered the job, the most professional thing to do is to send a more personalized message to the candidate or perhaps even call them to explain why things didn’t work out. Understand that this person put a lot of time into your hiring process, and they deserve to be treated fairly.
Use it as an opportunity to engage with them, and consider getting some feedback from this candidate. Be careful though: Some candidates may try to convince you to change your mind. If you’ve come to a decision, move forward with it.
Making an Offer
When you find a candidate that’s the right fit for the position, it’s time to make an offer. It’s a bad practice to ask the candidate for the salary they want to get paid for the position. Instead, set a salary range for the position. At Microverse, we have a transparent salary calculator that takes into account the position, your experience, and where in the world you live, and it tells you exactly what your salary will be.
Removing space for negotiation and maintaining transparency help create a more fair environment, as you’ll be more likely to assure that there is no gender inequality or other forms of discrimination when it comes to compensation.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a range in mind when you are making an offer to your candidate. But if you know what you’re willing to pay for the position, it’s best to just make that offer to the candidate.
At Microverse, we have hiring managers call candidates to offer them positions, explaining the role, the benefits, and the salary. We also like to ask candidates when they would like to begin in the role should they accept the offer.
Don’t rush the candidate and don’t expect them to answer right away. Give them some time - a couple of days, maybe over a weekend - to make the best decision for themselves.
Onboarding New Employees
No matter the size of your company, you want to be sure to have an onboarding process to get new hires up to speed as fast as possible regarding the position, the team, and everything about the company.
This will help them feel motivated and connected with your company so that they can bring value as quickly as possible. We use Notion for storing all of our onboarding materials. We also use Process Street, a business process management application where we list all the steps for the hiring manager and the new employee where they can check all of the required boxes one by one.
This is a good practice to make sure the process is consistent and well-guided. At Microverse, our hiring managers give each new employee a 30-day plan, so that they can get to know their colleagues and get up to speed with what’s going on with their team in phases. In some cases, this will involve getting to know some of your customers.
Also, give your new team member the chance to meet their colleagues through meet-and-greets: Have everyone in the company (or in small groups) join a video call to do some ice breakers with the newest team member.
Just as with hiring a team that works in an office, the best approach for hiring a remote team requires a level of consistency and following a plan. It’s also important to be considerate with every candidate, whether they are the right for the role or not.