How to Conduct Successful Remote Interviews: Tips for Employers
As the world of work continues to become increasingly location independent, the question of how to find and hire the best talent is firmly in the limelight.
In fact, the war of talent is a well-documented and hard-fought battle of late, with companies vying for the best people, and candidates firmly in the driver’s seat for many negotiations. The switch to remote and hybrid ways of working have added a layer of complexity to this process, with remote interviews ranking among the biggest challenges many leaders face in this new paradigm.
This is especially troublesome, as the interview process plays an important role in the life cycle of contractors and full-time employees alike, and it is proven that disengagement begins at interview. Conversely, well-managed interviews can have the opposite effect, setting a new collaboration off to the best start possible.
In this article, we focus on how to make remote interviews the norm, with the skills, steps, and tools that leaders need to find and hire the best contractors and employees remotely and overcome many of the challenges of interviewing in this set-up.
Background to Remote Interviews
For many organizations, the disruption of COVID-19 was the entry point to remote hiring. Prior to 2020, only 6% of US workers were remote, whereas in December 2022 Zippia found this number to be as high as 26%.
Leaders had little time to prepare for this shift, and in many cases, have spent the last two years trying to play catch-up and optimize their ways of working for the inevitable remote future. The interview process is one area that can be especially difficult for hiring managers to translate into a virtual setting.
After all, the age-old traditions of a firm handshake, of reading body language, and of picking up on other non-verbal cues are falling by the wayside as hiring managers and interviewees connect from thousands of miles or multiple time zones away.
Remote interviews are, therefore, a development area for many leaders, and they require a new way of thinking, new technology — and, often, a certain level of creativity. After all, how do you effectively assess an individual’s suitability for collaboration if you can’t connect in the same place?
Remote Interview Tips: Ensuring Successful Future Hiring
To ensure that you’re prepared for your remote interviews, it’s important to prepare thoroughly. Thankfully, we’ve compiled some tried-and-tested tips to help you ensure that you’re ready to interview prospective new hires remotely — and effectively.
Set Expectations in Advance
The fate of most remote interviews is cast before the time even arrives. Before your remote interview, it is vital to coordinate with candidates well in advance, to set the tone for a balanced remote interview, and to set their expectations for what’s to come.
The latter should include:
- The date and time of the interview.
- The medium — will it be a video call? A telephone call?
- The technology you will be using — will it be Zoom? Google Meet?
- The duration and format of the call — will it be an informal discussion? Will there be an assessment involved? If so, how should the candidate prepare?
By connecting with the candidate in advance of the interview, softly introducing yourself, and setting their expectations for the interview, you ensure that the candidate has the optimal opportunity to prepare and give your remote interview the best chances of success.
Arrive On Time
For in-person interviews, there is an inevitable amount of lobby-waiting for candidates. After all, most of us would choose to arrive early and thus to demonstrate our punctuality. This created a buffer for interviewers, who would be notified of a candidate's arrival. In the world of remote interviews, this simply isn’t possible. Signing on to a Zoom or WebEx call from the comfort of one’s home means that things kick off immediately.
Candidates will, undoubtedly, feel a level of nervousness for the interview, and to keep them waiting beyond the agreed time is not only rude, but also somewhat unfair. Arriving on time is an important way to make the candidate feel valued and respected, and as a hiring manager this should be paramount. By contrast, the opposite risks sullying the relationship before it has even begun.
Reduce the Formality
Another tip in hosting successful remote interviews is to reduce the formality of the interview itself. If a candidate can relax and talk openly, you are better equipped as a hiring manager to develop a true picture of their skills, personality, and suitability for the position that they are interviewing for.
A great way to do this is to start by explaining the structure of the call, before diving into a personal introduction about yourself. Demonstrating your human side at the beginning of the interview will encourage the candidate to do the same.
While this can feel somewhat uncomfortable in a remote setting, it is a great way to set the tone for the interview and to reduce some of the barriers that can form in remote interview settings.
Use Different Formats
If you’re hiring for a technical role, you will likely want to employ a very different approach to assessing the suitability of a candidate than you would for a non technical role. Utilizing formats such as skills-based interviews is a good way to identify how well somebody problem solves, or how well their skills profile matches your needs as an employer.
Following a multi-stage process for your remote interviews can be optimal, involving different members of your team in different stages to ensure that a candidate will gel with your company culture and collaborate effectively with the different personalities that comprise it.
Test Your Tech Stack
Before your remote interviews take place, it is vital to avoid any potential technical hiccups, which could cost you and your candidates valuable time and reduce the harmony of the interview process overall. Taking the time to test your technology will pay dividends down the line — you might even want to hold a mock interview with a member of your team to see how the experience will be for the candidate. What’s more, carefully selecting your remote tech stack, optimizing it along the way, will aid your efforts as you interview remotely.
Consider Cultural Differences
Considering potential cultural differences in your recruitment process is important in order to create equity and fairness for all candidates. Deliberately removing potential cultural biases from your interview process by anonymizing CVs and asking applicants whether they require any special considerations or adjustments for the interview process helps to keep the playing field even.
The final step to ensure success in your remote interview process is to follow-up with your candidates — whether they are successful or not. This is not only polite, but also helps preserve the reputation of your business and avoids burning bridges with candidates who might be potential good fits for future positions, even if not for the position at hand. Where possible, providing feedback for each individual can be helpful, although most will understand that this isn’t possible in every case.
Remote Interviews: Key to Building Great Remote Teams
As you can see, the remote interview process can be mastered in a few simple steps, paving the way for you to hire the best people from around the world. Getting the process right is critical to the future success of every organization, as it’s clear that the remote revolution isn’t going away.
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