In this episode of the Startups For The Rest of Us podcast, Rob interviewed Maren Kate.
Maren built Zirtual, a service company in SF that was offering on demand virtual assistants. She hired 400 people in less than 2–3 years, and after leaving the company she launched Avra Talent. On the podcast, she explained her exact recruiting process that’s now being used by many other startups that hire remotely. Here it is:
1/ Figure out the Job(s) To Be Done by the role.
Forget the title. First define the jobs to be done. Don’t collect resumes, we only look at resumes at stage 5. They are not the right “tool” for assessing an applicant. Let your company culture and your company’s version of weird shine through the job post. You only want people who want the role but also have a culture fit with you.
2/ Ask applicants to answer 3 paragraph-style questions.
The key first question has to be: “What are you looking for, and what honestly draws you to this company and this role?”. This first question also acts as a qualifier. If people don’t fill that out in a meaningful way, we immediately disqualify them. If you want people who actually care about your company and your vision, then they should be able to articulate that. The second reason why this is very important is because remote employees communicate a lot through writing with their peers, so they need to be able to write well-enough.
3/ Ask the 20% that pass the previous stage, to answer an additional paragraph-style question.
We test for responsiveness, not just content at this stage. We want people we respond quickly.
4/ A phone screen.
We ask them how they performed in previous roles. Many open-ended questions.
5/ A paid test project.
This should be something that you actually need done, and always pay for their time. Nothing is more powerful that seeing how people work with you and how they engage with you.
6/ If they pass the test stage, then a second-layer of interviews.
These should be with their team, their supervisors and so on.
7/ And after the interviews, check references.
You should check both given references and back channel references. Try to find people they worked for, people they worked with, and people that worked for them. Even if they can trick the process for two of these, if there is a hidden problem, you’ll surface that for sure.