Virtual conventional recruitment

Karin Christen,

Almost a year ago, in the article “We Are Hiring – as conventional as it can be” we wrote about our plans to search for a new team member for the first time in a more or less conventional way. During this for us rather new recruitment process, we got to know some interesting and talented people. Was our recruiting successful?

With this regular type of search, we wanted to open up the pool of potential employees, which was previously largely limited to the open source community. Since we needed support for both our Swiss and German offices, we advertised for the first time on our own job platform Freshjobs.ch for Switzerland and on Smashing Magazine and t3n.de for Germany. Our job advertisement, apart from its placement, was, like the organisation of our company, not very conventional.

Employer Branding: to ensure higher talent acquisition

In order to express our philosophy of location-independent working, we created a dedicated page about our way of working with the wordplay “You are required” under the sub-domain youare.required.com in addition to the job advertisement. The purpose of this page was to explain to potential employees in detail how we work, which tools and processes we use and what we place particular emphasis on – but also, in terms of employer branding, attractively convey the characteristics of our not standardly organized remote team.

Recruitment process: For the team, with the team

In our recruiting process we simply collected applications as e-mails in our shared inbox. Since we were explicitly looking for people with good German proficiency, we immediately sorted out those who did not meet this requirement. We did not have a stricter selection process for the time being. All candidates who submitted a complete application with their motivation and project references were given the chance to get to know us. Naturally, we did this by video call, which is our standard approach. We conducted the interviews in pairs or threes, but they were also recorded in agreement with the applicants, so that everyone in the required team could form an impression afterwards.

At required we have flat organisational structures and when it comes to selecting a new team member, all our employees have a say.

Collaboration on probation

In our industry today, truly talented people can almost choose their employer. So we couldn’t assume that it was just our own decision whether or not to bring someone onto the team. It has to be the right fit for both sides. That’s why it was always important for us to allow enough time for the evaluation. As a result, we have so far only worked with potential employees for several months on a trial basis as freelancers and have had very positive experiences with this approach. We invited three male and one female applicant to such a trial collaboration. Of these four interesting people, three were in permanent employment, so a freelance assignment was out of the question. Therefore a trial assignment was necessary.

A real project as a test task

The job landing page at the conference screen

Naturally, we wanted to see whether the interested candidates had the expertise we were looking for, but above all we wanted to see how well they could communicate with us. After all, communication skills are extremely important in a location-independent team where we don’t physically see each other every day. In addition, the task had to be meaningful and paid for, which is why we chose a concrete project with a deadline and going live date. The goal was to develop a job landing page for the Front Conference in Zurich. As every year, we were a contributor partner with our job platform Freshjobs.ch and were thus able to kill two birds with one stone. Of the two applicants who completed the test task, none of them were considered as future employees, which is why we ended up developing the landing page ourselves.

Shortly afterwards, someone very interesting applied in response to Smashing Magazine’s job advertisement – and our classic search for a new team member was a success.

Simon is required!

Based on our play on words “You are required” we were able to count Simon as part of our team since summer 2019. He supports us in UI design and frontend development and works for us on a part-time freelance basis. With him we could rely on our proven method and work together on different customer projects over a longer period of time to get to know each other better.

Simon brainstorming

Simon comes from Germany and therefore belongs to our German office. However, he is always 5 hours ahead of us – appropriate to our distributed team – as he works from Bangkok with a time difference. Due to the distance, not all of us have been able to get to know Simon personally, only our employee Ulrich visited him in Thailand in February. Due to the current Corona situation, it will probably take a while before we can all meet – our company retreat, which was supposed to take place this summer in Porto, has been postponed indefinitely. For the time being, our meetings will therefore be held via video-calls, as usual:

Screenshot of a Zoom Video-Call

Another new one!

An additional employee will somewhat unexpectedly be joining our team in the summer of 2020. Although we were no longer actively looking for someone after the successful recruitment of Simon, the page about our way of working remained online. Corina landed on it through a blog post via Linkedin and identified so well with our company philosophy that she applied directly the very same day. Despite the fact that we had fulfilled our need for a new team member, she piqued our interest so much that we agreed to a trial collaboration with her.

Trial Task 2.0

The trial collaboration with Corina lasted over four weeks, every time on a Friday. This was possible because Corina was employed to an 80% workload and usually dedicates the Friday to her personal side projects.

From our experience with the past trial tasks, where realised that we gave the applicants a lot of free room and probably not enough guidance and support. So this time we set the task up slightly differently and to be more precise. We put our expectations clearly into writing and announced that we would be there as a team to support her and that she should regularly interact with us. This way we wanted to understand her thoughts and create a working situation that was as natural and normal for our team as possible. Corina worked on the conference landing page wiad.freshjobs.ch every Friday and our work together progressed very positively. Over the course of a few weeks, she experienced how a completely remote team works, and we were able to get to know her better, both professionally and personally.

Screenshot of the Job-Landingpage

We are very pleased to welcome Corina to our team in June 2020 as a frontend developer. We will introduce her in more detail later in a separate blog post. Stay tuned!

Conclusion: Conventional hiring was a success!

In retrospect, we can say that the unconventional, conventional way of recruiting has been a success for us. We obviously chose the right job platforms and the additional effort of the permanent site to our way of working was more than worth it. Of the four people we invited to do a trial task, we can now count two as part of our team. We probably would not have got to know both of these talented people in our previous way of looking for employees. Moreover, we would not have been able to gain the valuable experience along the way. We definitely wouldn’t want to miss either of them.


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Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

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