Virtual Hiring is Here to Stay: Read about Changes that will Impact Your Job Search

It has only been a few months since most companies moved to remote work, but in that time, the use of video conferencing has exploded. The hiring of candidates, particularly for leadership roles, has been transformed. If you are in search of your next opportunity or plan to be in job search mode soon, it is critical to understand how the virtual hiring process is taking shape, as well as what to prepare for.


Video interviews now dominate the process of hiring executives – and in most cases when the position is not local, the process of hiring is entirely virtual, even for leadership positions – up to and including CEO positions.

Lynn Wu, Retained Executive Search Consultant at Spencer Stuart, a global top three retained executive search firm, confirmed that many C-level hires, including CEOs and CFOs, are now hired with a completely virtual interview process across most industries and all US geographies. In some cases, when it is a local hire, then the candidate and hiring manager may meet in person in a socially distanced way as a final step in the process.

Members of the gatekeepers community, executive search partners at Caldwell Partners and Korn Ferry, some of the largest executive recruiting firms in the US, confirmed that entirely virtual leadership hires are happening all over the country.

Shelli Nelson, the Head of Talent Acquisition at Madison Industries’, one of the largest privately held companies in the world, recently recruited a C-level role virtually and the company leaders are confident the candidate is a perfect fit. In addition, many fully virtual hiring processes for top leadership roles are in progress.

Some Hiring Managers are anxious to return to a process with as much in person interaction as possible and remain uncomfortable with not building a relationship face to face, particularly with C-Suite positions where historically travel and face to face meetings are a key component of performance.

Jeff Weiss, Founder and Managing Director of CCI, believes that face to face interaction remains a critical part of the hiring and onboarding process for their senior executive/partner level positions. Jeff says, “Due to the nature of our business, we won’t consider making an offer until we can interview and then onboard face to face.”

Some companies are putting a much higher priority on local candidates, so they can meet them in a socially distanced manner.

But, according to the majority of gatekeepers surveyed, companies that need to find talent today are not holding up hiring due to a lack of face to face meetings.


Adam Burrows, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Range Ventures, a Denver based Venture Capital firm informed us that all portfolio companies are hiring without in person meetings. “When start-ups need to hire leaders, they can’t wait for COVID to go away or for someone to be willing to fly on a commercial airline – they need to execute quickly with the resources at hand. If anything, the widespread use of video conferencing has sped up the process – not stalled it.”

Before COVID, virtual interviews were used only at the very front end of the process. This made the total process of finding, screening, and hiring an executive candidate lengthy and often requiring travel, face to face meetings, and in person relationship building.

Madison Industries has been able to hire a c-level candidate in as little as three weeks – a process that used to span months. “We can make quick decisions, we can get on calendars, we don’t have to disrupt the candidate if they’re working a full-time job and they can’t travel for an interview,” Shelli Nelson said.

Lynn Wu agrees. “Since companies are hiring virtually, it is much easier to coordinate calendars for Zoom calls. There’s no travel involved, so in many instances, hiring doesn’t take as long.”


Shelli Nelson notes, “One of the attributes we hire for is trust, and that’s a concern. How do you build trust when you are not face to face, not building relationships with it all being virtual?” Madison Industries puts candidates through a full day of assessments, a longstanding practice that they have now adapted to be fully remote. “The hope is that deeper assessments allow for a deeper understanding of candidate character and fit,” Shelli added.

Lynn Wu said she is checking more references for some clients – sometimes up to ten references versus the typical four to six. “It’s important to clients that the candidate can be vetted more thoroughly to make up for the lack of face to face interactions,” she added.

Larger interview teams have also become commonplace. Since candidates cannot be met face to face, the hiring manager wants to get to know them better in any way possible. This may be more virtual meetings, a larger pool of candidate assessors, and a higher level of vetting. Even with the expanded vetting process, the hiring process has shortened considerably. Meeting more members of the hiring company is also used to inform the candidate about fit.

“We need to be able to articulate our vision, mission and culture without having face to face meetings, so we allow the individual to meet with more people. This helps us communicate what it’s like to work in our organization,” said Nelson.

Lu says some clients are meeting candidates virtually for dinner – as having a meal together informs both side of the table more about fit.


An important consideration is also the vastness of the talent pool. Nelson described the current talent marketplace as “saturated”. “That’s great from an employer perspective, but it’s a lot of work to sift through those on a virtual platform to assess if they’re the right fit.”

As companies deal with COVID fallout, senior executives are looking to land in their next leadership opportunity. Pay cuts and downsizing at all leadership levels within many industries have flooded the market with qualified talent. According to Compensation Advisory Partners, 24% of S&P 1500 companies have cut their CEO base compensation, with most of those reducing other senior executives compensation as well.

“Most leadership job seekers must adapt to a ‘buyer’s market,’ so more humility and flexibility is required. Carefully crafting your digital brand and honing your online interviewing skills before you launch your search is highly important. The hiring executives at target companies are apprehensive about the ‘new normal’ too; they are concerned about finding the right cultural fit so candidates need to communicate their style accurately, as confident and present leaders in an entirely or almost entirely virtual world,” says Janice Waterman, CEO and Founder of Waterman Hurst and sponsor of the gatekeeperssm.



the gatekeepers℠ is a virtual community of senior leaders who donate time, advice, and insights due to their commitment to publish free content for up-and-coming leaders and leaders undergoing change.

Waterman Hurst sponsors the gatekeepers in alignment with the company mission.

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