Hiring Digital Workers for your Team: The Interview Process

Are you responsible for interviewing and hiring your team members? Including hiring digital workers?

Are you using VA's (Virtual Assistants) or long-term contractors?

How do you interview when you can't physically "meet" someone?

It's all about digital techniques to vet potential hires in this digital age!

This is Part II of Hiring Digital Workers.....the Interview Process.

Hiring Digitally The Interview Process-

In the last episode of the Halftime Mike podcast I dove into evaluation and initial testing process for vetting and hiring digital workers.  These are workers that will not be physically in the same location as you.  I go through my process and shared stories from experiences for why I do what I do, and what matters.  I left off at the first interview process and that's where I dive in today...The INTERVIEW!

Learn from my experiences and get a streamlined process for your business interviewing!

Listen Now:

Subscribe:  Halftime Mike on iTunes  | Android users via RSS  | Listen on Stitcher.

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Hiring Digital Workers for your Team:
A How To Guide

It's becoming more and more common to use virtual assistants, digital contractors and freelancers, and to have remote workers that are part of your team but not at your physical location.  This changes and challenges the hiring process!

In this "Part II" I go through my interview process.  The topics I cover, some specific questions and the intent behind the different pieces.  I have used this with contractors, VA's, and full-time team members including developers, bookkeepers, and sales account managers, so it covers a wide gamut!

My goal:  Go deeper than their experience and skills, and learn about their character, their motivations, and their communication capabilities.  Digital workers need to be good communicators that fit your culture.

TIP #1 Reminder:

Whatever small quirks or mistakes you see, magnify those x10. Now would you hire them?

[Tweet "Whatever small quirks or mistakes you see, magnify those x10. Now would you hire them? via @Mike_Gingerich #digitalhiring"]

Outline of the Digital Interview for Hiring Process:

  • Do it online!  
    • I use Google Hangouts or Skype.
    • If they are going to be a digital worker, they should be able to do this without issue.
    • I've had interviewees mess this up, they couldn't use the technology and it shows they didn't plan ahead to test it.  They strike out immediately!
    • I like to see that they have thought through being in a place with a good Internet connection and low background noise/distractions
    • Key:  Did they prepare?
  • 1. Intro with History, Vision, Culture and Insider Tidbits
    • I like to thank them for their time
    • I then like to lay out a quick history to give them some background followed by
    • Outlining the company vision and focus.  THIS IS IMPORTANT!  I emphasize this because it's the bigger picture of who we are and what they would be working towards and within (not just a job!)
    • I want to see if their eyes light up around the company vision discussion.
    • I also want to see if they connect with our culture.  This is often done through sharing our Core Values and talking a bit about them.
  • 2. An Invitation for them to Share
    • Next, I like to open it up to them and invite them to share about themselves.
    • I leave it fairly open-ended as I want to see what they talk about.
    • I do ask them what they like to do outside of work such as hobbies and interests.
    • GOAL:  A chance for them to define themselves through verbal communication and not just what's on the paper resume'.  It's my chance to read their body language and assess their communication skills.
    • KEYS:  What am I learning about them?  How do they communicate?  What interests do they have?  Would they seem to be a fit for our team and culture?
  • 3. Open-ended Questions about Past Roles
    • Now I dive into their resume' and ask questions I've come up with based on their past roles and descriptions of those roles.  Examples:
    • "Tell me more about your role at xyz company..."
    • "What achievement are you most proud of from your time at xyz...?"
    • "I noted this project, tell me more about the specifics you were involved with...."
    • GOAL - learn about them from their roles.  Can they articulate achievements and areas of contribution?  Are the roles relatable to what they would be doing in our company?
  • 4. Deeper Open Ended Questions
    • I'm going Freudian on them here!  I want to get at their inner motivations, their goals, their dreams with questions that demand some deeper thought such as...
    • "What do you feel is your greatest strength?"
    • "What do you feel you can bring to our company?"
    • "What is an area of weakness you have identified and how have you worked at overcoming that?"
    • "What do you hope to be doing in 5 years?"
    • GOAL - Can they self-identify strengths and areas of weakness?  How do they handle the weakness question...awkwardly or with poise...or do they dismiss it? Hint:  Everyone has weaknesses.  Those who fail to name anything are often not self-aware or perhaps conceited.
  • 5. Tool/Software/Role Specific Questions
    • After going deep, I like to lighten up a bit and come back with some questions on tools and software that they have listed or that we use.
    • I want to gain an understanding of their familiarity and preferences.
    • Again, trying to gain a feel for who they are and how they operate, as well as their specific experience.
  • 6. Role Specific Questions
    • Dive into questions that relate to the role and the team.
    • Can they be available certain hours?  If remote, what is their setting and Internet reliability/speed?
    • Have they had specific experience with XYZ?  (Particularly useful if you have not seen it on the resume')
    • What are your salary expectations? (I like to ask this.  My job description posted online likely had a range listed of the salary as a guide. I need to know where they come out on this.  Are they at the high end, the middle, or low?  I've even had some go below low.  Not something they should do!  Neither should they be way high above my top range.  How do they answer and address my question? That says something about their poise and confidence level.
  • 7. I give them a Task!
    • I'm looking for attention to detail and follow-through so I will ask them for email addresses of at least 3 references.  Rarely do they have email addresses of references on the resume'.  I want to email references and I want to see if they follow-up on this detail.
    • ALWAYS give them a follow-up task.  The interview can be somewhat stressful for individuals so I want to see if they are able to retain information and follow-through even under some stress.  That's an important skill!
  • 8. I invite them to ask Questions
    • I believe they should have questions!  This shows effort, interest, diligence, and preparation.
    • My best team members have taken the time to learn about the role and our company and have come up with a few good questions.
    • Those that have none are questionable in my mind!

Once this is complete, I typically give a soft reminder of the references and email addresses for those references and end the conversation with a thanks and clarity on what the next steps are.  Typically these are that we are interviewing others and that we will be waiting for the references and then following up with those we have further interest in by a certain date.

I then like to see if I get a follow-up email of thanks.  I think this shows character and thoroughness.  The interview itself should last not more than 30-35 minutes.

What's next?  For them, I wait.  Did I get the references?  If not, they strike out.  Did I get them but not with email addresses?  If so, they strike out!  I need people who follow through on what we agreed upon.  It's super important when hiring digital workers.

What if they follow-through?  I've hopefully interviewed a few people and decide who I want to pursue further.  I often then go for a second interview that goes deeper and where I may bring more team member in to meet the person.  I want to stress our core values in this follow-up, talk about them through stories, and pursue any follow-up questions that lingered based on the first interview.  Again, I want to offer them a chance to ask questions and they should have some!  I often ask their willingness to also take a simple online personality inventory based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  I like to get a feel for their personality through the assessment and again it is a task online for them to complete that I can review and that helps me test their follow-through on assignments.

Did I do this process always?  No, it's evolved and been sharpened over time!  Do I skip steps?  Only when I want to risk a bad hire!

By taking the steps outlined above you are testing their digital skills as well as their personal, communication, and character skills.  This leads to a successful hire!

Remember: Hire slow, fire fast.


Next Doable Task:

It’s always about taking away learnings and applying them!

What’s your key takeaway that you need to do in the next 24 hours based on listening to this?

What's your biggest takeaway from my process?  Share below!

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Why the Halftime theme Mike?

I’m an Indiana Hoosier native where basketball is the top sport. Every team heads to the locker room at halftime to evaluate the first half and create a updated plan for the second half. That plan includes adjustments based on reviewing what worked and what didn't. The “halftime” is a key review point where the game stops, the team pulls away to huddle in the locker room away from the fans, and they come out prepared and ready to succeed in the second half.

That’s what this podcast is all about, taking the time to pull away for a bit to evaluate, learn, and set some strategies for your business to succeed in the second half. Join me by subscribing and let me be your “business halftime” to help you find great success going forward!

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