The big difference between co-located hiring and remote hiring is the fact, that you likely won't see a candidate in person before you take the final hiring decision. This can be challenging for hiring managers, as the interpersonal connection, as well as casual conversations, can often influence a job interview, and online communication tends to be more transactional.
When conducting remote interviews, additional effort has to be placed on the following:
- Assessing cultural fit
- Assessing remote work fit
- Conducting skill-related interviews differently
Let's go through these...
Many (tech) companies don't have an initial culture interview anymore. The first interview goes right into disecting the CV, seeing if there is a fit within the company, and assessing qualifications in order to evaluate if the interview process should get continued.
However, culture is 100x as important in a remote team, and a proper cultural fit should be assessed, prior to looking at skills alone.
As the first interview ever, possibly schedule a 15-20 minute casual chat, either with a team member, or possibly even a founder. Talk about goals, aspirations, motivations over skill, studies and similar. It will give some initial signal, if communication and collaboration will work out with this person – an incredibly important pointer.
About Remote Work Fit
As part of this talk, it can be good to bring up some common issues in your remote team, and see how they can tackle it. Don't put too little weight on this one: A great, skilled worker is essentially rendered useless, if they can't function in a remote setting.
It can be good to check for the following things, amongst others:
- Prior remote work experience
- Ability to communicate via chat
- Good environment to work from (internet, calm, space)
- Motivation behind looking for remote work
- Expressiveness, communication skills
There are a lot more things you should look out for of course, but with a few directed questions, you should be able to give a good signal.
Whiteboard Interviews? Live Coding? Pair Programming? Your favourite skill assessments are difficult to hold up in a remote setting. Instead, you can try out the following strategies to assess skills:
- Take-Home Assignment (either short and unpaid, or more extensive and paid)
- Technical Discussion (bringing up current issues, how would you solve it?)
- In-depth Presentation about prior work
- Trial Work (Paid)