Veriff is one of the fastest growing start-ups in Estonia. Kaarel Kotkas, the founder of Veriff, has stated that the competition for open positions at Veriff is tougher than getting into Harvard or Stanford. To get an insight into the recruitment process, where the numbers can get up to 370 applicants per vacancy, we had recruiter Elisabeth Seepa from Veriff take us through it.
What does your recruitment team look like, and what do you consider as top challenges in 2021?
At the moment we have a team of four members. Our first priority has to be the speed of the whole recruitment process. We’re constantly working on it, and now, we have recruited 99 employees within 2021 only. Our goal is to grow our team up to 500 employees by the second quarter of 2022.
Kaarel Kotkas has stated that getting into Veriff is tougher than the competition for Harvard and Stanford. Is the interest still going strong?
Yes, the interest for Veriff as an employer is still strong. We saw an increase after Pipedrive reached unicorn status in 2020. It started much speculation about who could be the next one. Veriff got substantial mentions and thus brought a lot of attention to our enterprise. We have a good reputation, and we keep ourselves visible, it has piqued interest and helped us raise recruitment campaigns.
What is the average number of candidates?
The average can vary from position. For example, the opening for Senior Developers can be modest. You can feel that people are less willing to jump into new challenges after the COVID outbreak. Though we’ve had very strong candidates applying and taking the initiative themselves, some positions require headhunting. But with entry level positions, the competition can be tremendous. We had 370 applicants for the verification specialist opening.
Do you, as a recruiter, handle the whole process from start to end?
Yes, perhaps. I handle all the received CV-s, and in the end, I make the offer. But depending on the stage, we can have different workflows. Our hiring managers are very competent and independent.
How long have you been using asynchronous video interviews as a part of your recruitment process?
It was around 2018 when we started to recruit for the verification specialist opening. The position brings in a lot of candidates and assessing them solely on CVs can be misleading. Taking up phone calls is yet too time-consuming. It would be unreasonable to make 50 calls trying to better understand the information sent with the CV and therefore decide with whom to move on. The asynchronous video interviews, thus, solve the problem.
What benefits have arisen from using asynchronous video interviews?
For a recruiter, the biggest impact is the large scale of candidates you can process within a limited time frame. For hiring managers, we’ve been able to minimize the amount of unnecessary interviews. I mean interviews where the manager can see within the first 3-5 minutes there is no match, but the meeting has to be put through.
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How do you collaborate with hiring managers?
Our workflow starts with me looking over the CVs and selecting applicants for an invitation to an asynchronous video interview. To test the applicant’s motivation, we add homework along with the invitation. Recently, we’ve set the time limit for 48h, but if politely asked, we’ve met the candidate’s needs and given some extra time to finish the interview and homework. The received answers will then go to the hiring managers, who will choose the next round.
This workflow is effective – from 370 candidates, we made our first hires within a short 25 days.
How do you feel, is the collaboration with hiring managers going well?
I think we’ve managed well. The decision to leave the processing of video interview replies to the managers has been exemplary. The manager can choose with whom to move forward and meet in real life. The managers have been actively learning and gained much experience in selecting candidates. We have had good progress on how many candidates get held along the preselection and how many make it to the founder’s interview. We have gotten a lot more precise and, therefore, effective.
What would your recruitment process look like if there wasn't a possibility for asynchronous video interviews?
Well, it will sound odd, but I guess it would go along the way of the quickest wins. The process would kick off, I’d be busy with phone calls, and it would all reach a point where some of the best candidates would be left aside. We would have moved on with enough candidates who simply applied first. Recruiting would be a lot more time-consuming and not very fair to our applicants.
The asynchronous video interviews give an awesome opportunity for the candidates themselves. They can open up and be a part of a fair recruiting process. Everyone will get the same questions, the same time frame, and the same number of repetitions. No one will be left aside just because they discovered the job ad later. Recruiters can get through more candidates and find exactly the right ones to fit our culture and the position.
What type of questions do you ask in the asynchronous video interview stage?
For example, we always want to test knowledge about our product when hiring a verification specialist.
We’ve also dug into topics like:
– What would you love about the role of verification specialist?
– What are you passionate about?
– What are your favourite activities you’re always up to give your time and energy?
– What kind of feedback have you received professionally, and how have you turned it for your benefit?
– When would you be ready to start?
– What is your expected salary?
What tips could you give to fellow recruiters on how to select candidates from the asynchronous video interviews?
Here we skip candidates who give a very broad answer, and we feel the candidate cannot formulate a clear reply. We also leave aside candidates giving answers strictly by the book. We love to see candidates who are open and honest and let their character shine through. The same goes for the cover letters. They’re no use if they’re bleak. The cover letter should complement your CV by bringing in new information. For example, it’s an opportunity to give insight into why your CV shows no working experience in the past year?
How do you promote participating in asynchronous video interviews?
We prepare a thorough email introducing these steps of the recruitment process. We did our best to keep it friendly. So far, we’ve presented our questions as text messages, but we have set goals to create our questions also in video format. I think it’s a great way to make our preselection more personal, and the candidates can see and relate to the recruiter or hiring manager they are in contact with.
Do you have a time limit set for answering?
We usually give from 30s to 1min to leave your reply. The candidate will have two attempts. We’ve offered it because I can imagine the recording can be clumsy at first, and you might not be satisfied with the first try.
Have you received feedback from the candidates about the asynchronous video interviews?
I have received no feedback from Veriff candidates. But when talking with friends or acquaintances, I’ve heard a bit of a tedious attitude towards it and a lack of motivation to go along with it. I have always explained the core meaning of it then. But candidates are getting more and more used to this new format, and the more positive experience they gain, the more willingly they go along with it. The asynchronous video interviews don’t work with any profile. I’d assume no developer will be sending me video recorded applications. But for entry level positions that require initiative and good self presentation, asynchronous video interviews benefit both recruiter and candidate.
You mentioned your team leaders being actively involved in the recruitment process. How did you make it work?
We’ve had in-house recruitment training to set mutual expectations. Both parties need to understand the collaboration and commitment good recruiting takes. Good candidates aren’t just around the corner waiting to be found. Besides training, we’ve found ourselves committed hiring managers through practical experience and mutual understanding.
How do you measure your recruitment process?
Time to hire, candidate feedback and the speed of moving from one stage to another. Candidates will receive an automated feedback questionnaire about the recruitment process immediately after completing an interview with the hiring manager. This allows us to assess different stages along the process and general candidate experience. It has gained us deep insight for improvements—each quarter we set a focus on a specific area we wish to improve.
How do you feel about automation?
Automated recruiting is important and beneficial, but you must recognize the moments where the situation needs a more human and personal approach. Technology will not be taking away our work. The skill to create contact, communicate and be empathic can only grow in time. Here at Veriff, we’ve found a good balance between automation and the human approach.