When most people think of places with sizable tech talent pools, they likely picture Silicon Valley or Seattle. Here in Canada, cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montreal come to mind. According to CBRE’s most recent ranking of Canada’s top technology cities, Toronto ranks in first place, with a total tech talent pool of 250,000.
These cities have traditionally been magnets for software developers, IT specialists, and other tech workers. If the last year and a half has taught us anything about technology, though, it’s that geography matters less than we once thought it did. The widespread shift to working from home made it abundantly clear that, with the right tools, just about anyone can do their job from just about anywhere—provided their job involves a computer, of course.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in just about every area of business, and that includes human resources. Video interviews aren’t exactly new—recruiters have been using them to screen candidates for about 20 years—but the practice became much more widely adopted last year. Like remote work and Zoom meetings, it has very much become part of the “new normal” for many organizations.
My own company, VidCruiter, is based in Moncton, New Brunswick, which is a fantastic place to live and work, but is generally not considered one of the world’s great tech hubs. (In fact, of all the Canadian cities CBRE ranked, Moncton came in dead last, with a talent pool of 2,900.) We happen to specialize in video recruitment and online hiring solutions—and we are not just a local business. In fact, we help HR teams all around the world modernize their recruiting efforts.
Being based where we are hasn’t slowed us down one bit. Our CTO, Mike Wojcenovich, and I founded VidCruiter in 2012 as a two-person operation. Today, we have over 100 employees and a global roster of clients. We work with mid-to-large size organizations that hire anywhere from 15 to tens of thousands of employees per year, including school districts, major retailers, public health departments, and more than 70 departments and branches of the Government of Canada.
If you’re unfamiliar with video interviews, here’s a quick primer. There are basically two types—real-time virtual meetings similar to Zoom or Skype calls, and pre-recorded ones. The live meetings mirror in-person interviews in many ways, but the pre-recorded type is a new experience for many job applicants. During these online interviews, candidates are asked to record their answers to a series of questions, with their responses reviewed by the hiring team after the fact.
This asynchronous approach works well if, say, you’re interviewing a full-stack developer who happens to live in New York City or New Zealand (or New Brunswick, for that matter). Since pre-recorded video interviews don’t require interviewers and interviewees to meet at a predetermined time, they eliminate scheduling conflicts and time-zone challenges.
Video interviews also allow tech firms to interview more candidates more quickly, they can improve the quality of hires, and they can reduce time-to-hire by up to 90%. In the fast-paced and competitive tech world, that last point is crucial. After all, that very in demand full-stack developer isn’t going to sit around for three weeks waiting for you to make a decision.
We have seen firsthand that digital interviewing is a particularly good fit for technology companies, especially ones that are looking to recruit from a global talent pool and not just the one in their own backyard. Because they transcend geographical limitations, digital interviews can help level the playing field for companies in non-tech hubs by opening the doors to a larger field of candidates, allowing employers to seek out top tech talent anywhere across the country or around the world. It has certainly worked for VidCruiter—of our 100-member team, 90% work remotely from other cities.
The others live and work in Moncton—which, while it may not be Silicon Valley or Toronto, has turned out to be a really great place to run a tech business.