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Bursts of Color - Remote Hiring

Bursts of Color - Remote Hiring
By Geoff Donaker • Issue #13 • View online
Some of you are hiring and on-boarding employees remotely for the first time. The good news is that plenty of companies have done this before (e.g., Yelp had 250+ remote folks in my day), so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. IMO remote hiring can be better than the in-person kind, because it can strip away much of the noise and make us run a tighter, more purposeful process.

A Good Hiring Process is Way More Than Interviews
Yes, video interviews are different than the in-person kind. Let’s embrace this and focus on the rest of the hiring process, which is often short-changed. I previously ranted about our tendency to overweight interviews in this post: Interview Less. Smile More.
Here are the hiring steps I try to follow, without skipping or overweighting any one of them:
  1. Concise Job Spec. Limit your requirements list to three bullet points that are meaningful filters (e.g., not “good teammate”).
  2. Skill Check. A simple 30-60 minute assignment will confirm that they can write, code or model the way they say they can.
  3. Interviews. Accept that these are mostly “do we like each other?” litmus tests best kept to a small group of interviewers.
  4. Reference Checks. Front and backdoor references can be better than interviews. Do at least 3 and start early.
  5. Background Check. It’s a cheap way to verify facts and avoid unpleasant surprises later.
Optimize for Speed
Some percentage of your hires won’t work out. That’s life. By accepting this, you’ll allow your company to adopt a hire fast / fire fast posture and just get moving. Note that this doesn’t mean cutting corners like background checks. It just means running an efficient process and hiring the best person available.
Try Before You Buy
I like starting with a trial consulting engagement of 1-3 months whenever possible, especially for senior roles. Both sides get to explore working together before getting “married.” You may find this easier to pull off in our all-remote times… as many strong candidates are sitting at home bored and open to trying a new project tomorrow. This may also increase your comfort moving fast.
The Key to Remote Onboarding: Over-Communicate
Once you’ve hired that new remote teammate, she obviously cannot just show up and learn by watching her peers, so it helps to be as communicative as possible. My rules of thumb are:
  • Week 0: Prepare a detailed “Getting Started List” with lots of background reading, links and names of people to meet.
  • Weeks 1-2: Be prescriptive with appointments and tasks, preferably down to the hour, so she wastes no time being lost.
  • Weeks 3-12: Set aside time to talk daily, even if just for 15 minutes, to answer questions and course correct.
  • Day 30, 60 and 90: Ask yourself, “Given what I know now, would I hire this person today?” Then act accordingly.
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Geoff Donaker

Bursts of Color is a newsletter for start-up leaders who work with Burst Capital. It's meant to include products, people and ideas that I think are interesting and maybe relevant for you.

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