The changing landscape of hiring virtually. Can we hire 100% through online video interviews?

The COVID – 19 pandemic has forced hiring manager to make tough decisions, including whether they will hire only through video-interviews – without having met them face to face. Some of our clients have been asking this question and often are conscious if they are making the right decision. We have discussed this with many of our clients over and again in the past few months, from Tech startups to international organizations and below are a few case studies where clients have hired without meeting a candidate face to face and some tips on how you can be more certain of your decision.

  • We recently supported a German Machinery client hire a Sales Director based in Beijing a few weeks ago. The decision maker, the company leadership, and the main manufacturing unit is based in Germany with a sales office in Beijing. The plan was to fly the final candidate from Beijing to Munich for a tour of the manufacturing unit and meeting the leadership team. With the COVID travel restrictions in both the countries it was impossible to make this happen thus they made a decision to hire him without a face to face meeting. They had met the candidate only via videos. He spoke to all key stakeholders, took a tour of the manufacturing unit, was.introduced to his team – all virtually. The work employment offer, negotiations and his orientation to the firm was discussed virtually as well. On the client side they were confident of his skills and trusted his experience. On the candidate side he believed in the project, wanted to work with the hiring manager and was.aligned with the values of the company. Both parties agreed that there was a good fit – His first day at work was last week.
  • In Paris, our client an international facility management group hired an Operations Manager amid a complete country lockdown. They started the recruitment process when the COVID outbreak had just started, all the interviews took place during the country shut down. Five interviews led to an employment offer – all online via video conferencing. The client was uncertain if/when the restrictions would lift and was keen for the candidate to join as soon as possible as he wanted to build their post pandemic acceleration strategy together. The candidate was confident of the company and was reassured multiple times by different stakeholders. As Paris is now reopening slowly, their first face to face meeting is arranged for end May.

Our internal statistics show that 90% of impressions formed through videoconferences turn out to be the right ones but it’s not always the easiest decision to make. The value a face to face interview brings is personal connection, understanding body language and getting a ‘feel’ of the person – which definitely is a limitation in a video meeting. Below is a synopsis of what worked for these recruitments and what we advise at NAOS International:

  1. Adapt to the change:
    Change is the only constant, adapting to the changing scenarios of talent acquisition is necessary especially if you are hiring at a leadership level during the time of COVID-19. A company cannot stop the hiring of a critical position and decisions cannot be stalled. In situation like this, we need to make the best of what we have – and the best tool we have is a video led process.
  2. And adapt to new technologies:
    Today technology is booming with multiple video conferencing platforms, HD quality images, group conversations. There are capabilities of sharing a whiteboard, making a presentation and showing a process or a demo all through video – get your IT expert to find the solution that best works for you. Get a high-speed internet connection and become technically savvy as an organization and an individual.
  3. Take your time to build rapport:
    We advise to have multiple video sessions. The first meeting could be an introduction followed by a meeting with another stakeholder, maybe a group meeting with a few team members. You could follow up with a one on one meeting to discuss how the candidate feels, more details on how the candidate will approach a problem etc. It is important to build a rapport with the candidate and it will take a few discussions. It is okay to request for another one if you are still not satisfied – the more you meet the more impressions you are forming to be able to make the right decision. This is important and helps both parties.
  4. Request a personality assessments test:
    We often advise doing a personality assessment test, DISC being one example, especially for leadership hiring. This can be done completely online and constitutes a good support to your assessment in our experience. It will help you determine key attributes of the candidate’s personality and pointers on how you can build your management relationship with them. It helps to see if they will fit with the other team members as well. Sharing the results and key points of the assessment is a good conversation to have – a reason for another video conversation.
  5. Ask situation-based questions, business cases and presentations:
    Tailor your video interview to more situation-based questions. Examples of how they turned around a challenging situation or an instance where they had to reevaluate their financial plan and growth strategy for a company are usually good discussion points. Get the candidate to build a business case or make a presentation on what you foresee they will immediately start working on – this will help you understand their mindset and if you both are aligned in your working style. Virtual presentations are as good as the real ones, get another person to be in the discussion to have a second opinion. This will give you confidence in your hiring decision and the candidate a flavor of what his work will look like.
  6. Conduct thorough reference checks:
    We always emphasize on the importance of systematically running a proper reference checks process. Re-evaluate the questions you are asking and investigate real life examples, development points and where the candidate’s biggest strength and value add is considering the interview process is purely online. We do detailed Reference checks for our clients to give them assurance on the hiring and always try to speak to ex-direct managers.

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