What predicts whether your new hire will be successful in a fully remote position? Four things:
Landing a new job during an economic downturn is challenging, and social distancing only adds to the complexity. Over the past 3 decades, we’ve carefully studied how hiring managers make decisions. Once you understand their perspective, you will improve your odds of being hired.Here's what you will learn in this webinar:
Chris Rock said, “When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that, "Hell is other people." Both men point to the same truth. Most of us are so afraid of being judged negatively by others that we adjust ourselves when someone else is present.
Getting past the other party's facade has always been a challenge for interviewers, but video interviews scramble the hiring decision in new ways, introducing even more factors unrelated to predicting job performance.
Both parties have long sought a competitive advantage in interviews. People obsess over what they wear, and choose their words carefully in answering questions and crafting resumes and job descriptions. Video interviews are just the latest front in the perpetual arms race between employers and candidates. And executive search consultants like me are the arms dealers to both sides. Recruiters have an obligation to advise both parties, creating the right environment and expectations for a productive conversation. Every candidate wants to interview well, and every employer wants to cut through that carefully curated facade to see the "real person" behind the interview answers.
So what determines who will gain the advantage in this video arms race? Will it be better interview preparation on the part of the candidates, or will it be employers adapting their hiring practices to this new medium?
Many of our clients are associations and nonprofits—organizations that exist to help other people thrive. And while they're all busy reinventing how they deliver their vital services, we’ve been equally busy adapting our services to support their new needs. Because the minute all those office doors slammed shut, the era of the modern executive search firm was ushered in. The old ways just won't rise to this occasion.
This is not how the future normally arrives. I've long appreciated William Gibson's 2003 observation, “The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." But in this case, the future was evenly distributed immediately upon arrival. And now every executive search firm is called upon to reconsider who we serve, what services we offer, and how we deliver those services.
So what services should a modern executive search firm offer? I'll know for sure in a couple of years, but for now, I'll share what we've done in the past two months. Clearly this is a work in progress for internal recruiting teams as well as third party search consultants:
In-person interviews with executive search consultants are suddenly out of step with the times, but they have been out of step with the research for far longer. Years of research illustrates why this type of interviewing is far more likely to introduce bias than to predict success on the job. (See The Case for Evidence-Based InterviewingTM.)
The public health earthquake left behind a digital divide between people who can do their work remotely and others who cannot. We’re seeing massive unemployment rates for people who need to be somewhere specific to work, and a far smaller employment impact on people who can work from home. It’s likely to be a year or more until we can all go to our offices without periodic disruptions. Consequently, a digital divide is slicing through employers in the workplace--if you can achieve your mission with a predominantly remote workforce, you are far better positioned than a restaurant or retailer who cannot. But it's not always a binary choice. What about business models that blend location-dependent work with virtual work?
Executive search firms are only one example, but a familiar one to both candidates and the client organizations who engage them. The finding of candidates (sourcing and recruiting) has been almost effortlessly virtual for decades. But the interviewing process has remained stubbornly location-dependent for most search firms. Until a month ago, most executive search firms proudly continued a clubby tradition of interviewing candidates face-to-face in posh, expensive offices. This (flawed) approach has deep roots in the industry. And despite mountains of emerging research that the practice is counterproductive, the clients of search firms mostly accepted it as an integral part of the service. (Hint: it's not.) And while employers accepted it, I suspect very few candidates will mourn the end of face-to-face interviewing with search firms. They are notoriously difficult to schedule, rarely enlightening, and can occasionally lapse into the truly superficial.
Of course, face-to-face interviewing during a pandemic is next to impossible to deliver. So search firms who relied on it must reexamine that part of their service offering. Ideally, this change would entail moving away from relying on the personal opinion of the search consultant, and migrating to a more evidence-based approach to interviewing. To place their search firms on a stronger virtual foundation, the value of an in-person interview must be delivered in other ways, and there are far more effective approaches. Organizations with deeper expertise in remote work will simply be more effective now. But that sort of business model innovation is incredibly difficult work in the best of times.
As someone who has spent the better part of two decades reinventing the business model for executive search, I do not envy those who are just beginning the journey. It's difficult to challenge the conventional wisdom in any field of endeavor. It is supremely difficult to rethink the entire basis for how you create value for your clients, and then go on to hire the people, build the process, and implement the technology to support it.
We are often asked why we don’t use Zoom for our initial interviews with candidates. Everyone who cannot interview in person is suddenly obsessed with Zoom. Frankly, we prefer Teams over Zoom, but regardless of your software, we have provided guidance for both hiring managers and candidates to help make the virtual interviews more productive.
We have quite a few clients who are conducting first, second, and third interviews via video conference software like Zoom. If you are new to doing this, the first thing you'll notice is that it's just different than face-to-face interviewing.
During this time of social distancing, our clients are conducting video interviews instead of meeting candidates in-person. So here are a few tips for a productive video interview.
If you are an employer scheduling the interview, we recommend planning an extra 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the call to test technology and work out any kinks. You might also want to offer alternate times (i.e., after your kids are asleep).
For candidates, best practices include: