BW 36 Virtual Recruiting Part 2 1 | BrainWorks

Virtual Recruiting and Hiring 2: The Interview

In the first blog in this series, we looked at the prework you need to do to recruit effectively, particularly when the process will be done remotely. Once the Scorecard is complete, and you have used it to eliminate unsuitable candidates and to highlight the ones who are most attractive (on paper at least), you will come to the crucial piece, the interview.

Given the importance of the interview it is crucial that you allow enough time to be thorough – we recommend several hours – and that it be a structured walkthrough of the candidate’s career. What you are looking for here is to uncover patterns of results, behaviors, and motivations that are relevant to the requirements you set forth in the Scorecard. To do this requires talking through each role the candidate has had in the past 10 to 15 years, asking the following for each role:

  • What were you hired to do?
  • What were the measures of success?
  • What were your results relative to the plan?
    • Note: Be sure you are clear on the difference between activities, results, and achievements.
      • Activities are what the candidate did. For example, worked long hours, participated in added, non-required training, met with team often, etc.
      • Results are what the candidate delivered in terms of units produced, patents obtained, financial goals hit, etc.
      • Achievements are what the candidate built. How did their work contribute to the department’s and the organization’s mission? How did they form the basis for future success, how did they develop people.
    • To explore achievements, you might ask questions such as:
      • What were your three biggest accomplishments and how did you attain them?
      • In your view, what metric best highlights your success in this role?
      • Where did you add the most value to the organization in this role?
  • What were your low points in this role?
    • In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
    • What was your biggest mistake in this role?
    • What was your biggest blind spot?
  • Bosses and Teams
    • What was it like working for ________ (boss)?
    • When I talk with your boss, what will they say made you stand out? What will they say are key development areas?
    • What feedback would your team give – positive and needs improvement?
    • Why did you leave this role?

In executive recruiting, two things are critical: past performance and your intuition. The first is accessible by the structured interview above. Your intuition is the key tool to assessing whether they are a cultural fit with your organization. There is a common misconception that it is not possible to assess the “soft” aspects of a candidate such as cultural fit over video. This is only true if you and your organization have not made it a priority to define cultural fit in a rigorous manner. If you have done this, and you follow a fact-based approach and take the time to create a relationship with the candidate that includes, but goes beyond the objective approach in the formal interview, you will get what you need to make this crucial judgment.

Most of what has been published about Zoom meetings focuses on connection and how to conduct oneself in a way that maximizes being present and connected. The body language expert Alison Henderson does a very good job of this in a short TedX talk. By applying her recommendations regarding facial expression and upper body movement, you can become much more effective at connecting and creating the kind of rapport that allows you to make valid and reliable intuitive judgments. Conversely, by turning these recommendations around and using them to assess the candidate’s non-verbals, you can get a better sense of them as well.

Studies show that on the order of 65% of the time, initial judgments turn out to be correct. This makes intuition a valuable tool in interviewing, but it poses a danger as well – if you take your initial impression too seriously, you expose yourself to the likelihood of confirmation bias. Prioritizing the objective, data-driven process described in this and the previous blog before consulting your intuition will minimize that danger.



BrainWorks is a prominent boutique executive search firm offering a 29-year track record of successfully sourcing and placing top talent. By harnessing proven strategies, collaborating with stakeholders, and leveraging a diverse and talented candidate network, BrainWorks helps businesses find, attract, and ultimately hire talented professionals that create differentiated results. To learn more about how Brainworks can help you, contact us.

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