In my last article, I spoke about the importance of managing candidate relationships while searches are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we figure out how to navigate from here, I’d like to think outside the box a bit about digital hires.

Let’s assume, for the purposes of this article, that important hires will still have to be made while almost 90% of the country is under lockdown. Fear-mongering aside, there is a good chance that most of the global population will be mandated to “shelter in place” for the foreseeable future. If you have a business to run, you may want to think about other ways to accelerate hiring for critical roles while saving money. The answer is digital hiring.

While many executive searches will be in a holding pattern, there will be significant hiring done at the manager and executive level for companies across a range of sectors. Hiring managers will need to leverage phone and video interviews to assess fit without the luxury of shaking the candidates’ hands or showing them their unique office culture. There is a spectrum of comfort levels in hiring someone without meeting them face-to-face. We, at N2Growth, want to help those who are dubious that video interviews will give them a full picture of the candidate. 

Here are some ideas to help you select and close key executives remotely:

  1. Schedule video interviews with candidates across various times of the day.   Management teams work really, really, hard. This means early mornings, long afternoons and late nights with their fellow executive team members and direct reports. Some people behave, think and communicate very differently at different times in the day. As such, if you do not have the opportunity to formally interview in person and are reliant on video, I’d recommend scheduling video interviews with candidates across different times throughout the day. Candidate X who is focused, energetic and even-tempered at all times may resonate with you more than Candidate Y who was hiding closed mouth yawns during your 8 am or 8 pm interviews. This gives you a chance to see how they present when the day begins and at the end of a long business day.
  2. Ask candidates what they’ve previously done AND how. Over the course of my search career, I have drawn a profound conclusion about what great interviewing requires. Great interviewing is not just asking a candidate what they’ve done, but how they got those things done. Anyone of average intelligence can recite back what they have done in a specific role, for example, “I grew sales from $20M to $50M” or “I took their legacy on-premise solution into the cloud”. The best executives can rattle off the “what” accomplishments and then tell you exactly “how” they achieved them at a finite level of detail. Asking these harder questions on video will quickly reveal who is good, and who is great.
  3. Use online executive assessment tools. Lastly, we recommend using assessment tools such as DISC, MBTI, Gallup, and Pi when you want to reduce your pre-decision dissonance. Some are more expensive than others, but you will undoubtedly get a new level of insight into who these candidates really are. When you don’t have the option of taking your finalist candidate out to a 2-hour dinner, this will absolutely help you put all the pieces of the puzzle together to get a full picture, perhaps an even better picture, before you close. 

Think of the classic rhetoric model wherein Ethos (credibility), Pathos (emotional appeal) and Logos (logic) are deployed to persuade an audience. Many public speaking courses are taught with this triad as the core underpinning of the theoretical model for persuasion. When you watch a great speaker speak in person, you can adjust your lens to see how he/she appeals to the audience with these different levers. When you are interviewing a talented executive, he/she is using different techniques to get the job; in a face-to-face meeting, it is much easier to pick up on these subtleties vs. when you are trying to hire them remotely. Therefore, in order to be certain that what you see is what you get, try using the aforementioned tactics when recruiting remotely.