The LaterPay team is distributed across Europe and the Americas. We love being a remote team, but there are challenges that come along with that, hiring being one of them; for instance we can’t sit together to discuss the process or invite applicants to come to our office. Our solution: all of our recruiting is digital and optimized for a remote hiring team.
Why we work remotely in the first place? We highly value work-life balance and flexibility. The is reflected in how we work; we care more about what our team members do and how they work with the rest of the team, than we do about their ability to be at a desk at 9am every day. Hiring remotely also allows us to work together with and get to know a lot of very qualified people without being limited to a certain area. Being remote gives us the opportunity for a more diversified team, which brings more perspectives and ideas to the table.
In this article, I’ll talk a bit about what works for us and what we’ve done to optimize hiring for our company and remote culture.
Our hiring process
When we’ve got a position to fill, we start by defining the position: what’s the title, responsibilities, skill, department, location (fully remote or a specific area) and compensation. What do we expect from our new team member? The job description needs to reflect all of that, as well as our company culture and remote way of working. This all happens online, whether it’s in a Google Doc, through a call, a Confluence page or a conversation in Slack.
Then we send the job ad out into the world; weworkremotely works great for our remote positions and depending on the position, we might add a small LinkedIn budget as well. Applications come in through Workable and after a first screening of the applications, we start interviewing promising applicants. When the applicant has gone through the different interview stages, we follow up with an offer and then soon onboarding starts. Workable helps us structure the whole process as well as align internally on whom we want to continue the process with or not.
Interviewing as a distributed team
Every open position at LaterPay has three interview stages: Screen, Interview 1 and Interview 2. We make sure that the interview team consists of people who will be working closely together with the new team member. For the position of a software developer, it could look like this:
- Screen: a written Slack screen with someone from our tech team as Slack is our main tool of internal communication.
- Interview 1: a practical tech interview in Hangouts with two members of our tech team and a written personal interview with someone from our tech team in Slack.
- Interview 2: a Hangouts interview with HR and our VP Engineering.
Every interview stage is followed by a written evaluation by the interviewer(s) and if there’s no clear favorite, the hiring team discusses whom to send an offer first. After reading through the evaluations, our CEO gives the final OK to extend an offer. Depending on the position, the stages may be set up differently.
Hiring recommendations from me to you
- Hire the right person. Don’t limit yourself by looking for someone who happens to be close to an office, but instead look for the best person for the position you’re trying to fill. It will be hard to hire the right person if the expectations for the position aren’t clear, so make sure you know who you’re looking for. This also includes knowing your culture, as that’s crucial to finding the person who not only fits the description, but also the team.
- Have a plan, but be flexible. Know what skills, knowledge etc you’re looking for. Have a plan for what the different interview stages look like and who’s responsible for what. Structuring your process makes it easier to focus on the candidate. But also be ready to be flexible and adjust the process if needed.
- Document. Documentation is important for any team, but especially a distributed, asynchronous team. Write down your plan and the expectations for each interview stage. Have a (rough) script or guideline for the different interview stages to avoid bias. Write an evaluation after the interview.
- Onboarding.Onboarding is just as important, if not more important than recruiting. Help the new team member understand the culture and help them find their way around so they can grow into and excel at their job.
A word about onboarding & working remotely: When the new hire starts at LaterPay, they’re assigned an onboarding buddy and we’ve got a few “low-hanging fruit” tasks for them to get them started. The onboarding buddy offers advice and guidance regarding the day-to-day aspects of working at LaterPay. They also offer encouragement and knowledge resources as they help introduce the new employee to the LaterPay culture. On the new hire’s first day, they e-meet their onboarding buddy, their line manager and HR through video calls to make sure they get some face time on their first day at work. They’re introduced to our Slack and how we use it as our main tool of internal communication. We also encourage “virtual cappuccinos”, which are video calls with other members on the team to get to know each other a bit better.
Two times a year, we organise a 5-day long offsite for the whole team. This offsite event helps the team bond and get to know the person behind the avatar, as well as align the team on a business level. We also have a budget which our team members can use to go to conferences (which they often do together) or visit each other to work more closely together.
What really makes working remotely work and what is absolutely necessary is transparency, good documentation and creating an environment where people can take ownership and responsibility.
5. Experience is not everything.Often curiosity, willingness to learn, a sense of ownership and responsibility, being a team player and respect are more important than current skills and experience. A big indicator in order to find out about these factors are the questions the candidate asks. We make sure to always have time left for the candidate to ask their questions during the interviews and we usually start the last interview with the candidate’s questions instead of our own questions. Some questions we ask to learn more about these factors are: “What would you like to learn or achieve in your first few months if you joined LaterPay?” “What kind of environment would you like to walk into?” “What have you achieved in the last 12 months that you’re the most proud of?”.
And a little note for the management
Give your team freedom and allow them to grow into their role. With a mere three months of HR experience, I applied for a Management Assistant role at LaterPay. The job description mentioned some HR responsibilities, which was perfect for me. I was given the freedom to explore what I wanted to pursue career-wise and I decided HR was my way to go. After six months, I was promoted to HR Coordinator and I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into the field thanks to the freedom provided by the management, while still receiving guidance and having the ability to bounce ideas off of other, more experienced team members.