Are You Ready to Hire Your Next Executive Without an In-person Interview?


By Myriam Le Cannellier

As a result of the pandemic, remote work and remote hiring is on the rise and they are probably here to stay. At the executive level, the question around hiring without meeting in person carries additional challenges, given what is at stake. At DSML Executive Search, as we work with European and Canadian companies to help them find the executive talent they need in the US, we often work with a hiring team who is located outside the US. With travel restrictions in place in between countries some of our clients are left in a position where there is no option for them to meet candidates in person.

A few weeks ago, we completed a search for a General Manager for one of our French clients. They hired a professional without physically meeting any of the potential candidates: it was a first for them, however not for us. In fact, we have been sourcing and selecting candidates remotely for our various searches for several years. Our own internal data and statistics show that meeting candidates in person is in no way linked to success.

What was new with this recent General Manager search was that the client, a packaging company, could not interview anyone in person, not even the finalist candidate and so far, things are going very well.

Here is a list of recommendations and tips to companies that might find themselves in the same situation:

-Establishing a solid and rigorous process at the beginning of the search that includes regular meetings with the hiring team is essential; As such, making sure all the candidates go through the same path and are interviewed with the same tools (video platform) by the same interviewers.

-Quickly debrief with the hiring team after candidate interviews to gather in-depth feedback and to uncover potential inconsistencies

-Having regular interactions with the candidates, in-between interviews, should be part of the process no matter what; but when the entire process will be remote, it becomes even more important to engage with the candidates and communicate regularly so that the recruiter can gather a more in-depth feel for their soft skills

-Depending on the search, having the final candidate work on a case or prepare a presentation about a particular topic or be part of a group conversation over video

-Using assessment tools to measure cultural fit or cultural intelligence can prove useful. Depending on each search and each client’s needs, we have used assessments such as the Hogan to complement our work

-Organizing a virtual visit of the client’s site (be it a plant or an office) before the offer stage is particularly useful: if the company decides to record such a “tour”, it becomes an investment to be used with future hires

-Working hard on creating an ever more solid on-boarding process with regular live communication

Recruiting for an executive entirely remotely can be intimidating but it can be done. If you have an experience or other tips you want to share, let us know. If you have a potential need to recruit an executive but you are worried about not being able to meet candidates, contact us to discuss further.