Although almost everyone has had a taste of remote hiring by now, we’re still learning about the challenges that come with it, and how to get it right. Codility and OfferZen collectively surveyed over 2300 software professionals globally on how they feel about remote work. Here, they discuss what they’ve learned about companies successfully championing culture in their remote hiring practices, and why having a cohesive interviewing plan and transparent communication lines is key to winning in a remote world.
We spoke to Rachel Whitehead, VP of Marketing at Codility, and Stephen van der Heijden, VP of Growth at OfferZen. From Codility’s and OfferZen’s reports on remote work, around 91% of developers saying that they’d prefer a job with remote work options, and both Rachel and Stephen are seeing more companies understand the opportunity in remote work and distributed teams:
“As we know, there are so many great developers in all corners of the world”, Rachel says. “If you are limiting your search to a specific geographical area, you’re definitely missing out.”
Because those engineers can now work for any company in the world, there’s more work to do if you want to make your company stand out. “You can hire anyone anywhere”, Stephen says, “which means you’re competing against everybody, all of a sudden.”
As a result, the companies that Rachel and Stephen see winning at remote hiring are investing more time into showcasing their remote culture. Rachel explains:
“Remote work starts with remote-first hiring: One of the things that we’ve been working on, with a lot of our customers who are hiring engineers around the world, is really making sure that their approach to remote hiring has been designed to show off what they’re good at when it comes to remote work.”
In other words, companies who are hiring developers remotely are realising that a well-designed remote hiring process is a great way to showcase to candidates how a company treats remote work, and how its teams function remotely.
In Rachel’s experience, it’s also an opportunity to see whether a candidate’s preferences for remote work align with your company’s:
“It’s a great way to be transparent with the candidates about what remote means for you as an organisation, and whether or not they’ve got the right attitudes and preferences. Let’s not forget: There are plenty of people who don’t necessarily want to work in a remote world. During your remote-first hiring, you’ll tease that out, and you’ll see whether the balance is there for you or not.”
From their respective remote work survey responses, Rachel and Stephen are seeing that companies who are winning at championing their remote culture during interviews focusing on getting the following things right:
- Design a cohesive and coherent remote hiring process
- Communicate transparently with candidates throughout
Here’s what these approaches look like in more detail and how they’re setting remote companies up to win.
Design a cohesive and coherent remote hiring process
In a remote world, a company’s hiring process is the first thing candidates experience. Companies who continued hiring remotely through COVID-19 made sure that their process is as cohesive as possible, so that candidates get a good first impression of the team’s remote culture.
Being cohesive when it comes to hiring means making sure that all people involved in the hiring process are on the same page, have the same information, and can give the candidate the exact same ‘cultural’ experience. That way, candidates feel a sense of structure and cohesion that reflects on how they’d feel if they were working in that team.
“I think a lot of companies had to put things together very quickly”, Rachel says, “but now we’ve had a lot more time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.” And, she says, those who have are taking the time to sit together as a hiring team, and are designing their process in full together:
“Sit in a room with the rest of the hiring team and have a talk about how your process is going to go: What are the steps? How much time should each of those steps take? What are the platforms and the systems that you’re going to use to make sure it’s secure and works smoothly?”
Pro-tip: One change that Rachel and Stephen sees from the companies they interact with is that they’re reducing the number of people in interviews. In video calls, too many people can be an overwhelming experience for candidates. Rachel says: “We all know that being in a Zoom call with 10 people or six people or even five people isn’t very good. People speak over the top of each other all the time.”
Instead, Rachel says hiring teams should look at doing smaller, one-on-one interactions. “Rather than having a bunch of one-hour interviews with the leadership, you want them to do 15-minute quick runs with different people from your team, one-on-one.” This comes across as more organised, and lets candidates feel like they can properly get to know the people they might be working with.
Communicate transparently with candidates throughout
Being remote means that hiring teams can’t rely on candidates picking up information from in-office interactions and conversations anymore. “Previously, when you’d walk out of the interview room”, Rachel says, “candidates could find out a lot of information from the things they saw: They can see there are dogs, what coffee machine you have, how many desks there are, how close the desks are together… That kind of stuff needs to be translated to the virtual world.”
Without those physical things, how you communicate becomes the vehicle for showcasing your company culture. For a positive experience, hiring teams need to zoom-in on their communication, and make sure they let candidates know what’s happening, what they need to prepare, and who they can expect to talk to.
Moreover, Stephen and Rachel say that companies getting remote hiring right are explicitly sharing with candidates what remote work looks like for them right now, even if they’re still figuring it out. This also helps showcase what your remote culture is like, even if your company is still figuring it out. Stephen explains:
“Have a stance. Be decisive. It might change, for sure — and you should accept that — but be explicit. That’s the first step, I think: Start that relationship with a candidate by saying, ‘We don’t know where we are, but this is what we’re currently thinking and you’re going to be a part of this journey.”
This shows candidates that, even if you don’t have a well-oiled remote policy, you’re open to figuring it out and — moreover — that they’ll play a part in figuring that out with you.
From OfferZen’s report, Stephen found that developers are motivated to prove that remote works. This means that companies that give developers the opportunity to do that are going to have a competitive advantage in attracting tech talent.