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What remote recruiters can learn from the reality show ‘The Circle’

At Cammio we’re all about showing your true personality through authentic communication, so I’ll cut right to the chase here: Unwinding from a busy day at my home office desk is often combined with some plain sailing reality TV for me. One of my recent favourites is the Netflix show: the Circle. You could probably best describe this show as a social experiment that isolates a group of players, each in their own brightly coloured apartment, in the same building. The players do not leave their apartment during the game and never get to meet each other face-to-face. Instead, they only interact with each other via the voice-controlled social medium called the Circle. People can either enter the circle as themselves or pretend to be someone else completely. Each day the contestants rate each other’s profiles and chat behaviour to crown a circle influencer, who can then eliminate one of the less popular players in the game. The overall goal is to become the most popular player rated by all participants during the grand finale. Of course, the road towards that finale is paved with eliminations, challenges, romance and a healthy dose of drama. The most interesting aspect of the show to me is that it mirrors the situation we have found ourselves stuck in during the last year: Isolated in our homes with only digital external communications. I think watching the behaviour of the players in the circle can teach us some interesting truths about remote work and remote recruitment. #dontjudge #justhearmeout


One of the most used reasons for the circle influencers (the most popular player of the day) to send the other players home is that they haven’t really had the chance to get to know them yet. It’s an easy way out if you need to eliminate people and still want to be seen as a nice person by the remaining players. People who are generally chatty and invest time in building connections by reaching out to others in private conversations tend to perform better on this show.

I’m convinced this conclusion can be directly transferred to a remote recruitment situation. According to the 2020 EMEA Candidate Experience Research Report by TalentBoard, frequent personal communication with candidates during the hiring process signals that they are a priority and paves the way for smooth onboarding processes. Their research suggests that 96% of candidates report a positive experience when they are given the opportunity to communicate their goals, meet fellow team members and get their questions answered before their start date. In a remote hiring situation, this means that recruiters need go the extra mile and take on every opportunity to reach out. Do you communicate with your candidates on every step their application goes through in your internal process? Do you properly manage their expectations when it comes to understanding that process and the timing of the different steps? Do you involve the (future) team in these conversations? Think about how you can make each conversation with your candidates feel real, warm and personal, or be prepared to be eliminated…


The seasons that I have seen so far (the first American season and the French edition) were both won by a person entering the competition as themselves and this fact restores my faith in humanity ❤️. Those entering the circle as a so-called catfish (pretending to be someone else) get the chance to present themselves as an ideal friend; a person they believe will be liked by everyone. Some people choose to use pictures of somebody they believe to be more attractive than themselves while others choose to pretend to have a profession they believe people will find more interesting. They are given all the resources they could possibly need to appear as the popular kid that is doomed to win the game on paper, however their behaviour in the chats often reveals their true personality and the other players lose their trust in them.

Hiring teams that still require a written cover letter and CV and postpone a face-to-face meeting to a later stage in the recruitment process also put themselves at risk of being catfished. As Walter Hueber explains in his blog, the cover letter is no longer a useful instrument for a candidate to stand out and explain why they are qualified for the position. Almost every cover letter has been co-authored with friends, neighbours and family and double-checked by the spelling geek in the candidate’s friend group. It’s really hard to uncover the real person behind all these edits for perfection. Postponing a face-to-face meeting to a later stage in the recruitment process means that you basically recruit with a blindfold on. You may reject very suitable candidates just because they could not find a good way to express their enthusiasm for the position on paper. Or you might be disappointed by the candidates that have made it to the first-round interview, because that witty writing in their cover letter was really their roommate helping out. Video interviews, both automated and live, can be a great way to bring personality and colour to your pre-selection process, allowing more candidates to introduce themselves to you in person.


Successful contestants in the circle are often those who build strong alliances throughout the game. But how do they know that an alliance is real and the person on the other end isn’t simply telling them what they would like to hear? I think that real bonding mostly happens when people start sharing real personal stories: about the city they grew up in, about their parents, siblings or children, their hobbies or a life changing event.

Did you know that candidates trust a company’s employees 3x more than the company itself to provide credible information on what it’s like to work there? Just like you are trying to see through the polished perfection of their cover letter, they are trying to get a grip on your real company culture: The one behind the slogans and smiles on your careers page. Creating authentic video vacancies with the help of the candidate’s future team can be a real secret weapon to connect on a personal level early-on in the process.

I hope I’ve inspired you to see your remote recruitment in a slightly different light and I know you will #SmashIt with being open, real and chatty with your candidates in remote hiring situations going forward.

Happy Hiring!