How to Hire Employees You'll Never Meet in Person
Redwood City, California's iCracked employs an army of technicians dedicated to fixing customers' broken iPhones. The company, started in 2010 by A.J. Forsythe and Anthony Martin, had 40 employees before the founders' college graduation.
Since then, iCracked has received funding from Y Combinator and SV Angel, and the founders predict $25 to $30 million in revenue this year. But every one of the more than 500 technicians, or "iTechs," it now has work remotely, in cities throughout the U.S. and 10 other countries.
So how do you manage to keep a solid culture with so many far-flung affiliates? Forsythe says it boils down to having a killer hiring process that accurately hires passionate, self-motivated people with a knack for fixing things.
"We screen out 99 to 99-and-a-half percent of all applicants before we hire someone," he says. "For three years we have refined our process by asking: 'Who do we want carrying our brand and interacting with people who want to use and trust our service?' Doing our due diligence up front and making sure we hire the best people in the country is key, and now we have an entire network of top iTechs around the world."
Below, check out the major elements of iCracked's extensive hiring process (which it conducts online or via a mobile app), along with Forsythe's rules for ensuring you hire remote employees that will represent your company exactly how you want them to.
The Perfect Employee
Forsythe says it starts with defining your ideal candidate, someone who will be the perfect example of what your company is. "What we are looking for in our iTechs is genuine curiosity. We are targeting the tinkerers, people who enjoy taking apart things and fixing them," he says. "But we also want them to have high moral standards and ethics to uphold relationships with customers. iTechs are driven by themselves and create their own success. We supply the tools and the network of customers, but it comes down to how driven they are by a passion to help people."
Since the iTechs are licensed affiliates, they need to be independent and entrepreneurial. Forsythe says that after candidates fill out a brief application, they undergo a personality test that screens for the three main characteristics all iTechs need. "We are looking for curiosity, drive, and strong ethics," he says. "This set of characteristics is modeled around Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, who said it's impossible to teach people be curious, driven, and ethical--it's all about how they have been molded throughout life."
During the personality test, candidates are asked to agree or disagree with statements about themselves, such as "You are usually the first to react to a sudden event, such as the telephone ringing or an unexpected question;" "You tend to be unbiased even if this might endanger your good relations with people;" and "You trust reason rather than feelings."
After the personality test, candidates have to do a one-way interview. The automated system poses questions and candidates record their answers via a computer or smartphone camera.
Candidates can re-record their answers, but need to answer them in one minute or less for the final version. The questions range from "What are 10 things you can do with a roll of duct tape?" to "If you could work on a project for any company in the world, who would it be, and why?" Again though, the main attribute iCracked is looking for is a self-starting attitude: "Above all else, finding driven individuals is our priority. You don't want your employees to ask, 'What do you want me to do?' You want them to say, 'Can I do this?'" Forsythe says. "Finding driven people makes it easier to scale the business because everyone is on the same wavelength and pulling in the same direction."
Spend More Time Hiring (and Less Time Managing)
Gilt founder Kevin Ryan advises entrepreneurs to find the best candidates by spending more time on the hiring process.
WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com
Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.