Watch the video:
So whether you’re trying to hire new people, or perhaps you’re in the market for a new job, you’ll probably be going through some sort of online remote hiring process.
At Butter, as a remote-first company, we have had some experience building and hiring a remote team at Butter. Over the past few months, we essentially grew from a team of 6 to a team of 13. And we did this all from our laptops, without meeting any of our candidates in person.
Along the journey, there were several things that were several key learnings that I’d like to share with you today.
Hey guys, Adam here from Butter. And this is “Slice of Butter”, where I talk about my experiences and thoughts as we’re building this startup.
Challenge 1: Assessing the candidate’s abilities
Now the first thing on the list for me is assessing the candidate’s technical ability. I believe that the technical interview and whiteboarding methods are broken. There’s a huge discussion and debate about this within the tech community itself. If you search “tech hiring is broken”, you’ll probably come across hundreds of disgruntled engineers who are burnt out about it.
When you take a whiteboard test to a remote environment, it just becomes really awkward. There’s a lot of setup that you have to do and a lot of things that can go wrong. Tbh, it wasn’t worth it for us.
Getting candidates to regurgitate sorting algorithms they read on InterviewCake has little to no bearing on how successful they will be at their job.
But now being on the other side of the coin as an employer, I get it. We need something to validate technical skills, and cookie-cutter technical interview questions and whiteboarding tests are a simple, easy, cut and paste standard that the industry has adopted to scale the interview process.
At Butter, we don’t do whiteboarding interviews. I don’t believe they give us any indicators for us to judge a candidate properly. Instead, we do very niche technical interviews specific to the stack we’re hiring for. If we’re hiring mobile engineers, we might talk about how to integrate native modules alongside React Native. These kind of questions help us understand the candidate’s experience, but also understand how their skills translate into their role. This approach is more involved and usually requires an experienced technical person in the meeting.
So in order to do this at Butter, we’ve set up some pretty high filters before we even invite candidates into an interview session. This brings me to the next point.
Challenge 2: CV’s are not enough
Number 2, CVs are just not sufficient for anymore. It just doesn’t tell us enough about a candidate. Hiring remotely means that we get applications from all around the world, and that means that you need to break through the noise in order to get our attention.
At Butter, one of our filters is a questionnaire that we use to get more information about the candidate. It features basic questions such as “what are you most proud of” and “what impact would you like to make at Butter”. Essentially we want to provide the candidate to put their best foot forward.
Applications that include portfolios, side projects, blogs, and open source contributions have an upper hand over others since we can assess your skill level and your initiative by the things you consider your highest achievements. And applications that have well-thought-out answers show us that the candidate is serious.
As builders, I make projects for fun, which is how Butter started. So in turn, I generally want to surround myself with people who want to build cool things with us.
Challenge 3: Difficult to vet for trust
Lastly, it can be difficult to vet trust during remote hiring. You lose a lot of the body language and nuances that you get with an in person interview. And that’s on both sides.
Trust is really important for a remote company. It’s important for us to establish that trust with the candidates during the hiring process. I believe if you respect candidates, candidates will respect you back. Keep communication lines open and always follow up. The most important thing is to keep the human element. Interviewing online is already sterile and cold, and at Butter, we do our best to make the other person feel like they’re interacting with friendly humans. I know this sounds silly, but during my freelance days, there were so many times I felt like I was shuffled through some mechanical process by interviewers who were bored before even talking to me.
There are of course cases when trust is broken - either the employer or candidate ghosts or a lot of empty promises made. Sometimes it’s hard to validate whether someone is telling the truth via a webcam, especially if we have no referrals to fall back on. What we found successful was to do a one or two-week paid-for project to assess the candidate, and understand what it’s like working with them. This can be costly in terms of time and money investment, however, so by the time we get to this step, we’re usually pretty sure of the candidate.
Building a remote company can be tough, but it is really rewarding to be able to work with talented people across the globe. Remote hiring is the future and it’s crucial for companies and candidates to set the standards to get the experience right. If you’re looking for a remote opportunity as a candidate, hopefully, this video helps you a little bit.
Also, we’re hiring here at Butter, so feel free to check out careers.butter.us to apply!