• May 13, 2015
Before I allow myself any TL;DR, I have to mention a very important aspect: This blogpost is, beside the topic hiring, about people, stereotypes, and things that makes you wonder and maybe smile when you have experienced recruiting in a more corporate context. I want to add that a) nobody should do recruiting without being truly interested in people and their stories and b) none of the examples are about bitching on candidates. I know for sure and it’s only fair that they struggle with my personal quirks as well.
So, International recruiting is tough, fun, and broadens your mind.
As I had never done international recruiting (outside of Germany) before, some learnings may not be rocket science for you, but for me they were. Yes, I previously got CVs from non-German-speaking people; Yes, I tried to hire in India; And yes, I was working in a multi-national corporate company before and had to face many cultural differences, but the hiring itself was never “really” international. With Giant Swarm this changed.
At Giant Swarm we started last August as a team of seven and are 15 people by now. We plan to be 30 by end of the year, so we have to face constant growth and hiring (mainly Devs and DevOps) is permanently ongoing. From the very beginning, we planned to build a remote, international, and distributed company, but as the kickoff team was located in/around Cologne this was kind of a contradiction in itself. We have a Cologne office but as we have hired the first US American, Dutch, Spanish and almost a French colleague, who all work 100% remotely. So, let’s see how we do this.
As for some background information, our hiring process has five steps:
Candidates answer some questions, as the quality of CVs differs a lot, especially in an international environment.
Hard facts and soft skills interview
A presentation (no powerpoint bingo, more real work) of a concrete task in front of the team (until now, we have always invited the candidates to Cologne for that). Candidates spend more or less half a day with us to test and prove, if they want to join Giant Swarm.
The following 10 insights mainly focus on the interview part. I’ve done more than 100 during the last month. So, what did I learn handling this process more or less smoothly in an international context (interviewing people from more than 45 countries), while not forgetting to treat people like they want to be treated?
Fight the timezones: Scheduling interviews is always a pain in the ass. Timezones make it even worse. To avoid email conversations like “I am available on every Tuesday and Wednesday during lunch in UTC time which is I think 8 hours ahead of yours? But not next week. And I have a doctor’s appointment”, YouCanBookMe helped me a lot. Let people book and reschedule their timeslot. Furthermore, you can avoid Sunday interviews, which, according to my experience, somehow is something that is quite common in other countries.
Have your equipment ready! Starting a Hangout or Skype 30 seconds prior to the interview will lead to delay. Ping people in advance and have a quiet room with a good microphone available. Inform your candidates that you expect the same. *“Can you hear me” “No” “Now?” *is getting on everybody’s nerves. And: Rename your Skype contacts! You’ll get crazy with the list of names written in cyrillic or other foreign languages, being a Star Wars character, funny numbers, or code sequences. If possible, do all applicant communication in one tool: I highly appreciated breezy.hr’s system. But as it’s all for the candidate’s good experience, if they don’t want, accept your fate and do as your potential new colleagues want :)
Try to provide as much information (e.g. photo galleries, glassdoor link, articles, company profiles etc.) in advance as possible. Candidates will have a look if you give them a friendly hint. Understand this as a service that creates a good candidate experience. It shows that you have nothing to hide and a proper preparation of the candidate also helps you in the interview!
Certainly we will have to continue this journey and get many more learnings out of it. We will have to improve the process and (communication) challenges may occur. But all in all, the fact that we could not hire enough people locally gives a great opportunity to look “über den Tellerrand hinaus” and meet great people. And finally, rule #1 for all recruiters out there :)
“There are no facts, only interpretations.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
What’s your experience been like, whether as a recruiter or as a candidate? What have you learned? We are looking forward to your thoughts.
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