The Hybrid Leader

Recruiting a high-performance hybrid team

Posted by: 
Archie Hollingsworth

The Hybrid Leader: recruiting a
high-performance hybrid team

How many people do you know working five days a week in an office? From corporate banking and professional services to tech start-ups and software unicorns, hybrid working is rapidly becoming the dominant narrative in a dynamic workplace story, particularly for high-performance, high-growth teams. 

According to Accenture, 63% of high-growth businesses have adopted a ‘productivity anywhere’ working model and 83% of workers prefer hybrid working. Whether companies are embracing hybrid working for access to a wider talent pool, work-life balance improvements, cultural symbiosis or simply ‘going with the flow’, there is a common direction of travel among fast-growing start-ups, scale-ups and enterprise businesses. 

But what does this mean for recruitment? 

Keen to discover the impact of hybrid working on hiring talent, FYXER canvassed opinion across the high-growth ecosystem, from VC Talent Advisors to Heads of People at fast-growth companies, to better understand hybrid hiring processes and shifting recruitment trends. 


Fiona Keane
Founder, Keane People and People Advisor, Kindred Capital
James Mitra
Founder & CEO, JBM
Jane Reddin
Partner, Talent and Platform, Albion VC
Josh Boltuch
Interim VP of People at Unibuddy / Chief of Staff to the CEO
Lyn Vallet
Head of People, Duffel
“Hiring is a two-way street: today’s top talent is also searching for the right company for their own development”

— Jane Reddin, Partner of Talent at AlbionVC

The importance of a hybrid hiring process

A well-thought out hiring process has long been essential to hiring high-performance teams. Carefully-curated to avoid bias and ensure objectivity, a fair and inclusive hiring process helps companies to hire the right skills and behaviours to complement the existing team and drive the company forward. But a hiring process isn’t just for companies’ benefit.

“Hiring is a two-way street: today’s top talent is also searching for the right company for their own development,” says Jane Reddin, Partner of Talent at AlbionVC. “That’s why a multi-faceted process is so crucial: it will highlight a company’s cultural identity and enable a candidate to connect to the mission and purpose, whilst also setting the candidate up for success in the role before being hired.”

A structured hiring process can therefore act as a tool for making great hires, aligning the internal team and advertising the company to candidates. But has it changed with hybrid working?

“When hiring remotely, it’s non-negotiable to have a pre-designed process,” says Reddin. “Doing it on the fly doesn’t work on a screen. You must have a tight understanding of what you’re looking to test for on each screen call or what questions you need answers to.”

For Lyn Vallet, Head of People at Duffel, hiring “shouldn’t really change if it’s hybrid or remote as you should always have a strict process and trust in that process.” Although 90% of Duffel hires now take place remotely, “nothing has really changed. We still have scorecards. We still set the expectations. If anything, there was more planning before and it’s much easier now.”

Josh Boltuch, Interim VP of People at Unibuddy, agrees. Our hiring process “hasn’t changed that much post-pandemic. We always have a process in place and we’re always trying to improve it.”

So how can you improve the hiring process?

Clearly define your hire

The hiring process starts long before the interview stage or even the job description. From the outset, the hiring team must agree why they are hiring and what is needed in that role.

For Josh Boltuch, the starting point of designing a process is “being really clear on outcomes. Making sure that for each role we can tie very clear outcomes to business goals. Then it’s about ensuring everyone involved in the hire - the hiring manager, the panel, the people partner - is on the same page for those outcomes and knows who is interviewing for what.”

Internal alignment is paramount to avoid the back and forth of indecision and the creeping malignance of bias. For Jane Reddin, agreeing on what ‘great’ looks like at the start helps pave the way for a smooth and fair process down the line. “At the start, long before you send out a LinkedIn advert or speak to a recruiter, you need to build a data-led model to work out what great looks like. This will help streamline your outreach strategy and prepare you for the interview process as you’ll have a clear idea of what to look for and can prepare insightful interview questions to determine if the candidate possesses these competencies.”

Articulate what’s required

Long gone are the days of sending out generic role descriptions, selecting interview candidates based on CVs and holding informal and unstructured interviews. Now, companies recruiting high-performance teams must use the hiring process to pitch themselves by articulating what’s required and why the candidate should choose them.

To help your company stand out, Jane Reddin asserts that the hiring process must emphasise “what is expected of candidates, how success will be measured, what their future development looks like and their impact on company growth”.

In a hybrid world, ‘what to expect’ includes how the process will take place virtually. “At Duffel, we let candidates know the process beforehand and give them tips on what to expect,” says Vallet. “We always give candidates a choice between meeting in-person or remote. For in-person interviews, we would have organised informal coffee breaks with other team members, but as 9/10 candidates now choose remote interviews, we not only let them take breaks when they want, but we can add in someone to meet over Zoom.”

Unibuddy’s interviews are all now done virtually having been all in-person pre-pandemic, but this hasn’t prevented the company from stamping its unique culture on the hiring process. “We want the hiring process to showcase who we are,” says Boltuch. “For example, we let teams organise things in a way that’s unique to them. That could be letting candidates drop in to a meeting or conference to get a feel of what it would be like to work here, come to events that we’re hosting or talk to a different person that they wouldn’t usually do.”

Make objective decisions

All of the previous parts of the hiring process are worthless if you don’t make objective decisions. From removing prejudice from job applications (i.e. never asking for defining personal characteristics, such as age or gender) to asking the same questions in the same interview format to each candidate, there are various ways to remove bias from the hiring decision. However, there is one that stands head and shoulders above the rest: scorecards.

Scorecards can take various forms, but are embedded in data and consistency, enabling the hiring panel to establish which candidate will be the best match for the role. Jane Reddin has been designing and honing scorecards for almost 20 years. For her, “scorecards are no longer a nice-to-have. An internal, data-led scorecard is required to align the views of the whole hiring team and ensure consistency with your assessment approach across all candidates.”

Baked into Jane’s scorecard is the concept of looking at different ‘dimensions’ of a candidate. This helps hiring leaders assess for both hard skills, soft skills and cultural fit and reduces the easy pitfall of over-indexing on ‘the CV’ or the halo effect of being in a ‘successful company’. It also creates a way to deliberately design a more cognitively diverse cross-section of complementary strengths in the team.

To use a scorecard like this, Jane recommends:

- Draw out a 4x5 grid containing 20 boxes.
- Write down what the candidate must have achieved before in each of the four columns, including:
- What strengths they must demonstrate to do their role well.
- What cultural values their behaviours must align to.
- The personal motivations which make for the right attitude.
- The drivers which are likely to mean sustained success and happiness for both sides.

For example:


Fiona Keane
Fiona has 20+ years’ experience as a Global Talent Acquisition Manager (including with Airbnb and Facebook) and provides consultancy services to VCs.


Fiona has 20+ years’ experience as a Global Talent Acquisition Manager (including with Airbnb and Facebook) and provides consultancy services to VCs.

Work model:

Runs a consultancy, remotely advising VCs on talent recruitment.

James Mitra
JBM is a values driven search firm that places executive talent in tech start-ups, scale-up and VCs. He also hosts JBM’s popular careers podcast, 40 Minute Mentor.


JBM is a values driven search firm that places executive talent in tech start-ups, scale-up and VCs. He also hosts JBM’s popular careers podcast, 40 Minute Mentor.

Work model:

Remote-first model with everyone spending at least one day per week in the office.

“Hiring is a two-way street: today’s top talent is also searching for the right company for their own development”

— Jane Reddin, Partner of Talent at AlbionVC


Jane Reddin
Albion VC manages almost $1 billion of venture funds; they are specialist early stage investors in b2b software and healthtech companies.


Albion VC manages almost $1 billion of venture funds; they are specialist early stage investors in b2b software and healthtech companies.

Work model:

Flexible team working with a focus on collaborative face-to-face work three days per week in the office. The office is open everyday and the whole company is encouraged to come in on a Wednesday.

Josh Boltuch
Unibuddy is a Series B ($30m+) platform digitally connecting student ambassadors and future students to make informed decisions about higher education.


Unibuddy is a Series B ($30m+) platform digitally connecting student ambassadors and future students to make informed decisions about higher education.

Work model:

Team-first model. No universal policy applies to all teams, but the average is 1-3 days per week in-office.

How recruitment has changed in a hybrid world

The labour market is in constant flux. The shift from the factory model to the office model took place gradually over the 20th century, but hybrid working has smashed the concept of a single physical workplace in just two years. Since 2020, the norm has bounced from full-time office work to full-time home working and everything in between. High-growth companies have tried varying patterns of hybrid working with varying success. It’s simply been a period of trial and error.

Now the dial has steadied and most companies have found a way of working that suits their culture and goals, but the impact of these shifts has profoundly changed the labour market. For instance, the mental shift, attributed to the pandemic, led to rising vacancies in high-growth roles. The advent of hybrid working opened up job opportunities for candidates in areas they couldn’t work before. These two factors combined saw employees become more demanding in what they want and more willing to leave if they didn’t get it.

But now, the flexibility of hybrid working has bitten back against candidates. The UK, EU and US are staring down the barrel of recession. Hiring freezes and layoffs are increasingly common as companies try to minimise human capital costs, boost efficiency and extend cash flow. As a candidate, the fact that you could work for a company further away also means that companies have a wider talent pool to recruit from.

“It’s very different from two years ago,” says Boltuch. “We’ve gone from the great resignation where it was a candidate’s market to a recession in the UK, likely in parts of Europe and potentially in the US in 2023, which has rapidly changed the mindsets of employers and candidates.”

People Advisor and former head of EMEA recruiting at Airbnb Fiona Keane puts it simply: “As the market has changed over the past six months, people are having to be more flexible again.”

So what do candidates want and what type of candidates are companies looking for?

What are candidates looking for?

According to 2021 Mckinsey research, ‘purpose’ and ‘flexibility’ were two of the most common responses for what people looked for in a new job and our contributors have found these two factors are still at the top of the demand list.


Empowerment is hard lost. Having been able to dictate working hours and office hours for the best part of two years, it’s no surprise that the lure of flexibility is deeply entrenched in candidates’ minds and remains the most in-demand factor.

“Flexibility is the number one thing candidates are looking for when searching for new roles,” says James Mitra, Founder and CEO of JBM recruitment. “They want the freedom to choose where they work from and how they work.”

Lyn Vallet agrees. “Flexibility is the number one thing people are looking for. At Duffel, only 15% of the company are Brits, so many love the idea of working from anywhere (WFA) as they can work from their home countries for a bit. As such, we’re raising our working from anywhere allowance from 25 to 60 days.”

But flexibility is not black and white. While some candidates might want more distance from the office, others want to be in the office more. “Straight after Covid people were very deliberate about what they wanted,” says Keane. “‘I want only remote, just two days in the office or full time office. I will stop at lunchtime and go out for that walk. I don’t want to work excessive hours’. If a company didn’t allow for what they wanted, they wouldn’t even bother applying. Now, they still want their ideal working structure, but are willing to compromise.”


It has almost become cliche to say that Covid accelerated workplace trends, but pre-pandemic, candidates increasingly valued purpose-driven companies that weren’t simply about making money as well as companies that prioritised wellbeing, mental health and sustainability.

“Almost every candidate we speak to now prioritises purpose over profit,” says Mitra. “They’re not necessarily looking to ‘save the world’, but they want to have an impact and make a difference. They want a leadership team that believes in something and is authentic. Candidates are savvier than ever and can easily cut through the bullshit. They want to see a leadership team that is open, gives regular feedback, cares about mental health and wellbeing and strongly supports D&I. It’s these types of leaders that will attract the best talent, who will in turn attract other talent.”

While Josh Boltuch agrees that “people are more aware and asking for flexibility about where they work and how they work,” he believes that a company’s ‘mission’ is a key candidate concern too. “We’re a very mission-driven business. We’re helping students make better decisions about their higher education journey. We have a high value proposition and attract those people who are looking for a mission.”


Lyn Vallet
Duffel is a Series B ($50m+) b2b SaaS company providing toolkits for selling flights online.


Duffel is a Series B ($50m+) b2b SaaS company providing toolkits for selling flights online.

Work model:

Flexible working with three days at home and two days in the office (the leadership team comes in on Mondays and the whole company on Thursdays).

What type of candidates are companies looking for?

Hybrid alignment

In a hybrid word, the type of candidates that companies are hiring is directly correlated to the company’s goals, culture and hybrid working structure.

“When it comes to hiring, you need to think about what the business is trying to achieve,” says Boltuch. “We need to be innovating, building and adding to our culture, which requires trust and collaboration. In-person is important for that type of work, so we’re looking to recruit people who believe in that and want to come in and work in-person to achieve those goals.”

Duffel takes a similar approach. “Hybrid working has opened up our search,” says Lyn Vallet. “People who live two hours away can now apply, so our talent pool has grown, but the big filter is the type of people we’re looking for. We only hire people who like the structure of three days remote, and see the value of being two days in the office, so the first question we ask is whether ‘two days in the office’ is something you’d consider and enjoy?”

Hiring people aligned with your way of working might seem obvious, but given the wide range of personalities and variations of hybrid working, it’s crucial to target your approach to avoid wasting company and candidate time (i.e. make it clear in LinkedIn ads and job postings).


Although, for remote-first companies like JBM, the hybrid structure can impact the level of candidate experience you’re looking for. “Who we hire has changed,” says Mitra. “Historically, when we were in the office all the time, we hired more junior talent and grads who were learning by sitting next to people. That’s harder now, so we hire more senior, proactive, entrepreneurial types, who need less hand-holding. Recruiters who already have that training and who are very passionate about the business and industry. As a result, I’d say we’ve got the strongest team we’ve ever had.”

Being aware of this changing need is quite progressive, says Fiona Keane. “If you avoid hiring junior staff, it shows you’ve learnt how your needs have changed. But some companies don’t know what they don’t know. Who they hire depends on the stage of the company, how experienced they are and what role they’re hiring as certain functions work better in remote or hybrid settings. For example, the failure rate in hiring junior accountants in remote scenarios is very high as you physically need them in with you to use two screens and look at those numbers.”

Key Takeaways

  • A well-rounded hiring process is a must-have whether hiring in-person or remote
  • Clearly defining the hire, articulating what’s required of candidates and making objective decisions with a scorecard is essential
  • In a hybrid world, candidates are looking for flexible roles in companies with a defined purpose
  • Ensuring candidates enjoy your style of hybrid working is key to making a cohesive hire




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