Here we take a look at how to conduct a remote interview, and overcome the challenges that can be presented by them.
Remote working has become far more common in recent years, with businesses embracing the many advantages of remote staff. However, hiring remotely often means conducting remote interviews.
Hiring remotely can be very different than most managers and HR professionals are used to, and they can come with some potential issues. Get this stage of the recruitment process wrong, and your candidate experience could be seriously impacted.
1. Minimise the possibility of technical difficulties
When considering how to conduct a remote interview, a successful one will run as smoothly and seamlessly as one that is face-to-face. But of course, to a certain extent, you are at the mercy of technology. It is important, then, to minimise the risk of technical difficulties by being prepared and thinking about the structure of the interview in advance.
To prevent technical glitches, you need to check the work of your camera, microphone, and videoconferencing software beforehand. The simplest way to do it is to join a test meeting and see whether the system is ready for the upcoming interview.
When you are considering which software you are going to use for your remote interview, a reliable connection is a given – but there are other aspects you’ll need to consider. You will need to establish what sort of functionality you are going to need – for example, screen sharing or the ability for certain interviewers to join or leave as necessary.
GoToMeeting, for example, is considered to bemore mobile-friendly than many of its competitors. Alternatively, you might prefer Microsoft Teams for the ability to integrate it with other Microsoft products.
2. Showing off company culture and prestige
When a potential candidate comes to your office it can be easy to show off your company culture and display your business as a company that is worth working for. In a remote interview, however, it is not necessarily as easy. The interviewee gets very little chance to get an impression of the business from a remote interview, and this can affect their perception of the company.
Company culture can be just important to those working remotely compared to those working in the office, so it is a great idea to come prepared with stories and examples. If you can’t show someone directly, then make it a priority to explain in the interview.
3. Interviews conducted by people who don’t work remotely
Often overlooked in remote interviews – if the person you are interviewing is going to be working remotely, it can be important to have someone in the interview with remote working experience.
“Businesses sometimes don’t realise how different the working experience is for remote staff,” says Bob Bannister ofiManage Performance “individuals without remote experience are required to manage remote staff or conduct interviews with remote candidates – and it is apparent that they don’t quite understand it in the same way”.
It is important if you are going to be conducting an interview for a remote member of staff, you need to have training for it. Remote staff have different priorities and, in many cases, a different outlook – it is important to take this into account.
4. Build trust early
Trust is important in interviews, not just from the perspective of the candidate, but also from the interviewer. The interviewee needs to feel confident in the interview if you are going to get the best from them.
The ideal way to do this is to start the interview the right way – introductions and something to break the ice and help everyone to relax. Being friendly might not be your interview style, but it can really help in a remote setting.
5. Remove distractions
Of course, this goes for any interview, but if you are less aware on how to conduct remote interviews it can be easy to get distracted. Ensure that you have booked out the time and that everyone knows that you are not available to do any other form of work during that time.
This can sometimes be overlooked by members of your team – if they haven’t seen you go into a room with an interviewee they might assume that it is OK for them to interrupt. Additionally, you must ensure that you have a quiet room where there is going to be anything going on to take your mind off the interview.
6. Provide candidates with how-to guidelines
For some candidates, a remote job interview is a new thing. And your task is to help these candidates to get ready for a video interviewand make them feel comfortable while talking to you through the screen:
Explain to the candidate what videoconferencing tool they should install. Provide step-by-step guidelines, if necessary.
Specify the day and time of the interview as well as the UTC zone.
Mention how many interviewers and job seekers will participate in one conference (in case if you are planning to conduct a group interview).
Make it clear how long a remote job interview will last.
7. Ask the right questions
Some of the applicants who want to get a remote job have never worked remotely before. And you should ask the right questions to find out whether the chosen candidate is ready to start working from home.
Let’s say you are interviewing a person who wants to work remotely for an academic writing service. You need to ask the candidate what steps he will take to overcome creative blocks and stay productive while working from home. If a person has vast experience in writing and knows how to find inspiration working from home – he is a perfect fit for the job.
Here are a few important questions you should ask every remote job applicant:
Why do you want to work remotely?
How can you describe your perfect workday? How are you going to schedule your work time?
Does your spouse or other family members also work remotely? What steps are you going to take to maintain a work-life balance?
What skills do you have to become a successful remote worker? Do you have any issues with time management and self-discipline?
8. Check the facts online
During the video interview, you sit in front of your laptop, and you can use that to your advantage. You can check different facts related to your interviewee in real-time.
Let’s say you are interviewing a copywriter. He says that he recently published a blog post that has created a lot of buzzes online. You can check that blog post right during the interview and find out whether the candidate is as talented and qualified as he wants to seem.
9. Stop staring at yourself
Here is one of the biggest mistakes that interviewers usually make when using video conferencing software. They stare at their own little video box instead of paying attention to the speaker. That makes a terrible first impression on the candidates they are interviewing.
Do you want to make a positive first impression? You should fight with this kind of distraction. If you use Zoom, choose Speaker View instead of Gallery View. By doing this, you will put the video of the candidate front-and-center, and it will be easier for you to stop looking at yourself.
10. Embrace ‘the new normal’ and get ready to interview remote workers
If you are good at conducting traditional interviews, you will face no difficulties in conducting virtual interviews. Just take your time to figure out how videoconferencing software works and use the tips given.
A major part of overcoming the challenges of how to conduct remote interviews is taking the time to assess them and to understand what needs to be different – rather than treating them as exactly the same as a face-to-face interview. Even those who have not worked remotely themselves can interview for potential staff when they are well prepared.
Conducting a great remote interview is just one part of creating a positive candidate experience, and retaining talented candidates in your pipeline. For more information on how to create a great candidate experience, download our eBook on this topic.
September 10, 2021
Annie Button is a Portsmouth based writer and recent graduate. Annie has written for various online and print publications, she specialises in business, recruitment and career development.
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