Hiring is much more than just plugging a gap or getting some skills in. It’s about building a team.

So when we work with companies, what we’re looking for is always technical skills¬†plus – plus team fit, plus commercial capability, plus industry knowledge, plus something else.

Being functionally able to do the job at hand is important, of course: but hiring to build a team means looking at the longer term as well. Will this person help their peers improve? Will they be able to step up to greater responsibility down the track? Will they take problems off your desk, or become a management overhead?

That’s always been the case. But now the world of work has change. Covid-19 has shaken things up.

So the question isn’t just, how do you find and hire these people? But how do you do that without meeting them?

I think the good news is that for companies that think ahead, this is a huge opportunity.

It’s hard to know how things will settle in the future. But certainly there will be a lot more remote working, and a great deal more flexibility. Candidates will expect it.

So companies who embrace that can really stand out. Don’t be grudging in the way that you plan for this – build your hiring and your team around a remote model from the outset. That will allow you to hire faster, and to hire candidates who previously were just too far away.

There are a few vital steps to making this work:

  1. Make individual flexibility the heart of your approach. I read a post on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago about a company who had everyone working from home but were insisting that people update them when they left their computer to go to the loo. That’s not working from home – that’s tyranny. As far as you possibly can, let your team decide where they work from and when – and trust them to deliver. That means you need to manage by results, not by inputs. And it means you need to trust your people. Which brings us to point 2:
  2. Make trust and flexibility the heart of your hiring policy.¬†Let’s assume you work with an excellent recruiter who’s only providing people who are technically up to the mark (if you’re not – call me). Once you’ve validated that, the rest of your hiring process needs to be based on assessing whether you can build rapport with the person, how they will fit (or improve!) your team and what they need from you to do their best work. Hire a person, not a tick list of skills.
  3. Focus on process and not on platform. There are lots of video interviewing platforms. I’m pretty neutral about which you use – whether it’s purpose built or just google hangouts. The important thing is that it allows you to connect and engage with the person. So don’t do asynchronous recorded interviews. It’s like watching TV. And avoid a platform that hangs all the time. And think about what else you can do to test that engagement – can you get the person to collaborate on something with your team across a shared screen?
  4. It’s about people so involve people. The temptation is to sit at your workstation at home with your earphones in and do a video interview. And that’s fine. But what’s better is to follow that up with a call with 4 or 5 of the team so that everyone can be involved (which will engage your team btw – you value their opinion!) and the candidate can better evaluate you. But don’t make that an agenda-less chat. You could all go out for a beer and talk about nothing but it doesn’t work on video. So have a purpose – it needn’t be a formal interview but give it a goal and ask your team how the person helped them and engaged as they worked towards it.

This isn’t a comprehensive list. But it is a start at thinking through how to hire and onboard in a remote world. If you work like this, and give your team responsibility and flexibility in their working day – you’ll be building a loyal and valuable team. And you’ll be absolutely miles ahead of the companies that are still making their people ask for permission to go to the toilet.

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