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How To Hire Remotely

Remote
Hiring

6 December, 2017

Russell Smith
Russell Smith

Co-founder and CTO at Rainforest QA

Russell Smith discusses how his company, Rainforest QA, interviews potential staff.

Problem

Hiring remotely is very different to hiring locally, and often, even when people are hiring locally they don't do it in a very nice way. We have come up with a thorough process for hiring that's fair and transparent to both sides.

Actions taken

When hiring remote workers we will post an advert, prescreen the candidates, send the applicants a sheet explaining the interview process, and will then call candidates for a short technical phone screen consisting of three simple questions. By sending the documents explaining the process, we are able to be transparent, and candidates know what they're getting themselves into. However, after this we hold a hack hour. This consists of an hour-long Zoom call, where we ask the interviewee to find a bug or a feature they want to add on a side project or an open-source project. During the hour, the interviewee will share the screen, and if they have typed something wrong, we'll point out some of the mistakes. This allows us to learn about what interests them, their tooling, how they commit, how they think about code, how they write their codebase, and whether they've pre-prepared. If we like their work, we'll then provide them with an offer. This offer is normally contingent on talking to senior management and them liking the interviewee, and the interviewee completing a hack week where they act as a contractor for specific jobs where they are paid. This allows them to get to know what it's like working in the team that they will then go on to work with full-time. If this goes well, then we will provide them with an offer for a full-time role. We never fly in remote workers that we are considering hiring. The main reason for this is that when you are flown in, the setting is likely to make you want to be on your best behavior. However, when you are interviewed from your own home you are likely to behave more naturally.

Lessons learned

This process has reduced the drop-off rate of our company and moves the failure rate to further down the pipeline. By reorganizing our processes and being more transparent, we were also able to reduce wasted time, on both my company's and the interviewees part.

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