Virtual Recruiting: An Exelaration Team Member Perspective
No one was planning for a global pandemic to happen this spring. Especially not over spring break (the first one, that is) when I was enjoying the sunset in Myrtle Beach! I had spent the month planning Exelaration’s group interviews, gathering resumes, facilitating activities, collecting supplies, and reaching out and responding to applicants. We were […]
No one was planning for a global pandemic to happen this spring. Especially not over spring break (the first one, that is) when I was enjoying the sunset in Myrtle Beach! I had spent the month planning Exelaration’s group interviews, gathering resumes, facilitating activities, collecting supplies, and reaching out and responding to applicants. We were planning to hold the interviews the week following the break, but everything changed when COVID-19 hit. I had just finished driving back to Blacksburg when Virginia Tech announced their decision to go virtual, with Radford University following shortly. The schools instructed students to stay at home and away from the school if possible, then they extended the break another week. Exelaration pivoted to remote work online in, seemingly, just a matter of hours. Obviously, the in-person interviews were not option for the foreseeable future. However, we still needed to recruit top students for the summer and fall semesters. With the help of our Vice President of Mentorship & Growth, Matt McHugh, we set out to redesign the interview process from top to bottom.
The purpose of our group interview process is to see how students interact in a collaborative setting to observe if they would be a good addition to one of our many development teams. Many of the original hands-on, activities were designed to measure how well prospective interns could come together for a common goal. For example, the groups were supposed to reassemble a Lego model, but only one interviewee could look at and describe the figure in any given moment while instructing the others on how to build it without looking. We needed to maintain the collaborative elements, so the virtual process presented a major hinderance. How does one facilitate a group of seemingly random students, scattered across the world, to work together virtually? Zoom was the answer to all our problems!
We settled on separating students into four small groups for four different activities. Simple enough, right? Wrong! We had three main activities that would happen simultaneously and then a shared activity to conclude. Also, we wanted the same set of Exelaration team members to run the least number of activities, as possible. Thus, we couldn’t have more than two of the groups running the same activity at once. It turned into a quantitative methods resource allocation problem! Thanks to my studies in Business Information Technology as a graduate economics student, I was able to assign only two sets of observers one additional activity, and every student was able to participate in each event and meet each Exelaration observer.
For the first activity, we hosted a quick case study based upon an internal project Exelaration previously completed. The case study was modeled after those conducted by our partner organization, the Consulting Group at Virginia Tech, and the students had the opportunity to present their solution directly to our CEO, Steve Cooper.
The second activity was a fun ‘what-if’ scenario in which there was no right or easy answer. The students had to come to a unanimous decision as decision-making is a common challenge we face in the consulting and technology industry.
The third activity, my favorite, was a virtual design scenario that required tangible components. However, there was a twist. The students were not instructed what exactly they were building until they had gathered all their parts from around their respective homes. Then, the groups utilized Zoom’s digital whiteboard to design and present their final products. You would be shocked at the ingenuity and creativity of these remarkable students! Finally, we concluded the interviews with an Agile-inspired retrospective to reconcile and record the students’ perspective of the virtual process. The results were overwhelmingly positive.
Overall, irrespective of the situation, the virtual interview was practically seamless. Zoom facilitated quick transitions, ease of organization, and great visibility for each of the students via the gallery view. Astonishingly, there was a lack of technical or operational issues because of our amazing team member and my overly-detailed instructions! I wouldn’t be surprised if Exelaration keeps their group interview process virtual going forward.