It takes a little getting used to, but companies are finding that recruiting executives remotely offers more than enough benefits to make up for the lack of in-person meetings.
“There are many ways where the virtual recruitment is more efficient than what we did before,” said Jacqueline Welch, chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer at mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac.
She told The Wall Street Journal that Freddie Mac has remotely onboarded 250 employees since mid-March when the government sponsored home loan company closed down its offices and had employees work from home.
Just this month, Welch said, the company hired a new CFO, also virtually.
In another example cited by The Journal, Nielsen Global Connect, a part of the US research company Nielsen Holdings PLC, hired a new CFO with all but a single in-person meeting with the CEO.
“I will admit that, in the end, it felt a bit odd to hire a CFO who I had never met,” CEO David Rawlinson told The Journal. “So we met at my house and talked briefly through masks, properly distanced in the backyard.”
The Boston Business Journal described how Massachusetts tech startup Drift, Inc. hired a new chief revenue officer to lead its 100-person sales team entirely remotely. The publication described the month-long interview process as being conducted via phone calls, video chats, emails, WhatsApp and text messages.
“In the back of my mind, and the rest of our minds, we expected that at some point we would meet him and then we would probably be going back to normal,” Drift CEO David Cancel said. “That just never turned out to be the case.”
Virtual recruiting offers several advantages, executive search recruiters explained. Besides the substantial savings on flights, hotels and meals and avoiding travel hassles and scheduling conflicts, remote hiring is quicker.
Cathy Logue, an executive recruiter who leads the CFO practice, said a recent search for a senior executive was completed in three months. “If you had asked me in January if this was possible I would have said, ‘Absolutely not,’ in no uncertain terms.”
There’s another, less obvious, benefit to remote interviewing.
“So often, when you meet someone in person and you spend time with them, there’s a lot of things beyond the communication happening … and some of that can bias you in the decision-making process,” Cancel said. “This let us focus more on the actual substance of the conversation.”