In an earlier blog, we talked about why we conduct our meetings through Slack. Another thing that may baffle a lot of people is that we also conduct ALL of our interviews using the same channel. Back when we were still handling FreeUp, we followed the same process using Skype. We did that for more than five years!
We know that the norm is to conduct interviews using video or voice calls. But over the years, we found it more effective to interview virtual assistants through Slack chat and here’s why:
1. It’s the main communication channel we will use once we start working with them
Everyone in the Outsource School team works remotely. As we have shared before, about 90% of our virtual assistants are based in the Philippines. We communicate with them daily through Slack chat and emails.
So when we interview, it is very important for us to see how they communicate via Slack. Some of the things we make sure to take note of are:
How fast they respond.
In a remote set up, communication is extremely important. We want to gauge as early as the interview stage how fast they can respond when they know they are on shift and should be focusing on their tasks at hand.
How their English grammar is.
As we hire almost all of our VAs from the Philippines, we need to assess how good their English grammar is given that this is not their first language. This is extremely essential if you are hiring someone for customer service, content writing, and even graphic design roles. For any role that involves talking directly to clients or creating content that will reach your clients, you have to make sure that their English grammar is good.
How well they can understand our typing.
It is definitely easier to catch instructions during audio or video calls. But since we use chat to communicate 90% of the time, we definitely prefer virtual assistants who can understand our typing. And if they can’t, be able to ask for clarifications immediately to make sure that we understand each other.
How well they can carry on a conversation with us on Slack chat.
Aside from being able to understand what we are trying to say, ideal VAs should also be able to clearly express themselves on chat. This is important so that they can let us know if any problems arise in the future or if they have any questions or suggestions. Good communication must come from both sides.
If ever we decide to hire them, 99% of the communication will happen on Slack so why not use that for the interview too? If you can’t understand each other on chat or if they’re taking too long to respond, that’s definitely a red flag that you have to consider. You are most likely to experience a lot of communication problems down the road if you decide to hire them.
2. It gives us a record of the conversation that we can refer to when making a final hiring decision
When hiring for a new position, we typically like to interview at least two people; sometimes three or four depending on how the first two go. If you’re fairly new or haven’t done interviews before, the number could even go up. And that’s perfectly fine because it is important to hire the right person so you don’t have to go through the entire process again.
One main benefit of interviewing via Slack chat is that we get to have written records of each interview – no matter how many they might be. This makes it easy for us to go back to them and review the conversations once we have completed all of the interviews. From there, we can make good comparisons on who is the best candidate for the role and make an educated final decision.
Sure, we have tools today that allow us to record audio or video interviews. But it can take a lot of time to go back and listen or watch each recording when you’re trying to decide which candidate is better. Plus, we’re sure you take down notes while listening to these interviews anyway. So it’s really more efficient for us to just do the interviews on Slack and read them again once we are ready to decide who to hire.
3. It allows us to get all the facts that we need in a timely manner without being persuaded by emotional factors
Interviews can really drag out sometimes and take a lot of time more than what you initially set. It’s easy to lose structure and start talking about things out of topic. We know from experience because we used to conduct two-hour long interviews in our first company.
With Slack chat, we know the questions we want to ask, we know the information that we need, and we know how to dig deep into the person’s motivation and values. Depending on what role we’re hiring for, we can prepare the exact questions to ask beforehand and easily copy and paste them during the interview.
With this structure, most of our interviews are completed within 30 to 40 minutes and we have all of the information we need to then make a final decision on who is best to hire.
Lastly, it allows us to keep most of the interview fact-based and less about emotions and our “connection” to the candidates – which can happen if using audio or video.
And don’t get us wrong, we are all about cultural fit and making sure to hire people that align with our company values, but you can learn all of that through chat conversations just as much as you can via audio or video.
We are not saying that there is anything wrong with interviewing via audio or video. But we are making a strong argument that it might not be necessary when hiring for a virtual position where most of the communication will be over Slack chat anyway.
So feel free to try using chat in your next interviews and apply some of the tips we shared above. It just might work wonders for you as it did the same to us. If you do decide to try, let us know how it goes!