Async Journal

What the Hell is Asynchronous Hiring?

Asynchronous hiring
More remote work means more remote hiring; it's quite obvious. At the same time, remote work becoming the norm makes asynchronous communication the norm, too. If you work on a remote team, know what asynchronous communication is, and have experienced firsthand how it makes life easier for everyone, then you probably can guess what the essence of the asynchronous hiring process is. Simply put, asynchronous hiring is a hiring process that has taken all the advantages of asynchronous communication and hit the jackpot.

Asynchronous hiring includes asynchronous (pre-recorded) video interviewing, asynchronous chatting, and asynchronous (take-home) test tasks with later feedback. That is a comprehensive asynchronous approach to the entire hiring process. As in the already familiar idea of asynchronous communication, the main goal is the same: to save time and create comfortable conditions for productive work for the participants in the process.

Let's make sure that we understand each other and go through the basic concepts.

Asynchronous communication is independent of time communication that doesn't require the recipient's immediate answer, allowing them to respond to messages when they are able, rather than reacting immediately. To get into the idea of remote communication or to burrow deeper we recommend reading this.

Advantages over synchronous or real-time communication (phone calls, video meetings):
  • Easy communication and collaboration across time zones,
  • Better planning, more flexibility, and control over the workday, 
  • Immediate documentation that can be referenced indefinitely,
  • Thought out, high-quality communication instead of knee-jerk responses.

Pre-recorded video interview (One-way video interview, Asynchronous video interview) is an interview format where employers record a video presenting the company, its mission, or just asking potential employee questions according to the job, and then candidates reply by recording their video answers. 

Your pre-recorded interview may contain all the same things that you are used to saying and asking in classic interviews, but here are the advantages over live interviews:
  • Time-saving: no need to repeat the same things,
  • Easy to conduct, no scheduling and postponing,
  • More information than CVs & faster screening,
  • Consistency & equal opportunity for all candidates to answer the same questions,
  • Better collaboration with colleagues by sharing candidates' videos & reducing personal biases.

Asynchronous (take-home) test tasks — a task that candidates complete when the time is convenient for them, not in real time. This is a great way to assess candidates' writing, coding, project management skills, etc. 

This assessment approach has advantages over live challenges similar to the already described ones: flexibility, convenience for both parties, documentation, ignoring time zones, improved diversity, and others. However, these two need to be added:
  • automating the verification of test tasks,
  • showing you respect your potential employee and value their time while winning loyalty (the fact is: programmers hate the white-board coding challenges, which definitely do not mean that they have weak hard skills). 

But what was wrong before?

Actually, nothing if you are satisfied with your hiring process and its outcome. Yet, in most cases, the usual hiring process is long, expensive, painful, archaic, and — ineffective.

In small startups, the founders, managers, and team leaders hire employees themselves, which is fine, except that it takes a lot of time away from other important processes. In larger companies, the HRs still actively engage managers and heads of something who need a new employee in the hiring process. The recruiter can only take over the screening part but can't accurately assess the required hard skills. Then they turn, for example, to the team leader or CTO to hire a technical specialist. What comes next? An offline or Zoom meeting scheduling, which would take into account the load in each participant's calendars. In addition to the fact that this approach stretches the process over time, it also takes a lot of employee hours, interrupting them from their deep work, usually at the most inopportune moment. 

In fact, this is the main reason why no one likes to participate in hirings, and this task looks the most painful around others on the to-do list. And we are even not talking about the talent side here and about the difficulty of attracting strong candidates acting the old way.

Asynchronous Hiring

How does an asynchronous approach to hiring help? 

Have you decided what idea you want to get across to the candidate? Record a video right away: tell them a little about the company, about the features and challenges of the job, and ask questions that you are particularly concerned about in potential co-workers. As you see, this first step doesn't need to be postponed until the third Thursday of next month, when all of your necessary calendars magically coincide.

You or the person responsible for hiring can send a pre-recorded video to the candidates immediately when they applied. The candidate can respond in video format as soon as possible and it’s convenient for them. Talent introduces themselves, talks about experiences, answers your questions about the job points, and asks their own. And so, the process is started. You, in turn, can view the response whenever it's convenient for you — between tasks, on a lunch break, along with other colleagues interested in hiring that employee. You can go back to the recording and compare it to other candidates who sent their answers. 

One such three-to-five-minute video saves a lot of time for both sides. Did it become clear that the candidate is not suitable for the cultural fit? Or is their English not good enough, something critical for that job? Then you won't give them a test task, which means that you won't waste a candidate's and, your own, time on checking in vain. 

You can read more about the other not-so-obvious benefits of asynchronous hiring here. Still, you must have caught the gist. Asynchronous hiring is: easier, faster, fairer and more convenient for everyone. Even pre-recorded videos make communication with the candidate personal, more than emails, trying their best to pretend personalized, but still fake looking, and even more so than Zoom calls, when everyone is too busy to make the conversation meaningful as it could be.

It's clear that remote work works well for many companies (we are restraining ourselves from writing «actually for all types and sizes, if it is managed right». And remote work makes companies not just ditch offices, but think differently about talent, hiring, communication, and management. For the better, of course. So to go further, think about implementing asynchronous hiring next.