Take the leap, reap the benefits
The day before we closed the doors to our office in Ann Arbor, Michigan due to the COVID-19 pandemic last March, we interviewed a potential employee. After the interview, we had a nice conversation at a local restaurant. Looking back, I had no idea it would be my last in-person employee interview (to date), and last sit down meal in a restaurant for over nine months.
Within a few days, I offered the job, without knowing exactly how we would onboard an employee virtually. In the back of my mind, I think I was hopeful that this would all blow over by that time.
Sophia Bradley became our first fully remote new employee.
Recruiting and hiring in a virtual world has changed everything.
Zoom: a window to geo-agnostic hiring?
A couple of months later, together with the full SoundRocket team, we decided to leave our physical office behind for good. The days of accumulating office stories were in the past—we would never again have to worry about our water cooler catching fire (a story for another day).
Naturally with this transition, our hiring process changed, and while we were limited in what we could do (i.e.: everything had to be done by Zoom), we found ourselves considering candidates from other geographic locations. As a small business, we were not always able to offer relocation expenses, so previously this had limited our pool of applicants. The pandemic presented us with a new opportunity—geo-agnostic hiring. Most people we have hired since Sophia are not located in Ann Arbor.
Three quick tips for remote hiring
We quickly learned some lessons when hiring remote-only employees:
- Display your company’s culture prominently.
Even though we no longer sit in the same room when we work, we still spend a lot of time together, so cultural fit remains important. We want employees who immediately jive with our company’s culture. This takes purposeful work and planning. Consider how you communicate your culture as you hire—on your website, in your communications with candidates, and in the job advertisements. And make it a point to describe the culture during the interview process.
- Consider the candidate’s skills and personality.
We prefer to ask more behavioral-based interview questions when pursuing candidates. We have learned that while a person may have top-notch technical skills or experience in one of our niche areas, such as with user comprehension studies, they may not have the personality or discipline for remote work.
We explore a candidate’s answers based on SoundRocket’s principles and values. It isn’t about labels such as “introvert” or “extrovert.” It’s about how the candidates answer questions with regard to purpose, accountability, transparency, self-initiation, and how comfortable they are with online collaborations.
- Be geo-agnostic.
Being a remote business has opened the doors to hiring contractors and employees from anywhere. Two recent contractor hires live in Toronto, Canada, which I never would have considered a year ago. When SoundRocket went 100% remote, our geographic business view changed, and physical or geographic borders became irrelevant.
Don’t be geo-afraid. You can hire excellent people to join your teams—no matter where they are. Whether they sit in an office chair in a building with other employees or work from their home office thousands of miles away, employees who are the right fit for your culture will be long-lasting and successful team members.
Today, over a year since going remote, we have found that productivity can remain (or even increase), the quality and diversity of employee talent has increased, and we have been given the guts to bravely try new things. While I know we all miss the face-to-face interaction and spontaneous break room chats, we have found new ways to collaborate and celebrate together, and it’s working.
Careers at SoundRocket
If you have questions about hiring 100% remote workers (domestically or internationally) or you want to know more about the company’s user comprehension study services, I would love to connect—schedule some time with me here.