Remote interviewing is a newly required skill for hiring managers and recruiters, with the latest polls showing that as many as 86% of organizations are conducting virtual interviews to screen and hire new talent.
But while some recruiting skills carry over naturally, such as making conversation, asking insightful questions, and following up with references, remote interviewing presents a unique set of challenges for both employers and candidates that must be addressed. Recruiters and hiring managers must learn to establish rapport and carefully - and fairly - evaluate candidates without the benefit of face-to-face interactions.
Here's how to conduct successful remote interviews:
1. Prepare everything you possibly can in advance
Preparation has always been a key factor in successful interviews, but it's even more important to prepare when interviewing candidates remotely. Here are the core remote interviewing requirements every hiring manager or recruiter should walk through:
- Conduct a technology test of the virtual platform and confirm candidate's access to the platform
- Make sure everyone who will be participating in the remote interview understands who will be attending and what the pertinent talking points will be
- Review the job description and ensure everyone attending has accurate information about who the candidate will report to and what the main job responsibilities will be
- Review the candidate's resume and make a note of any questions you plan to ask regarding the details
- Compile a full list of interview questions and pass them around the interview panel to finalize before the interview
- Let attendees know what the next steps will be after the remote interview is concluded, such as when and how they should provide input, scheduling additional discussion time, etc.
Preparation tips for remote interviewing:
DO conduct a technology check 10 minutes prior to the start of the remote interview to ensure the webcam is functioning properly and test the microphone sound.
DON'T skip the personable aspects of an in-person meeting. Plan for some small talk at the beginning and end of the remote interview as you would normally have when meeting face to face. And, if possible, conduct a virtual office tour.
[Keep reading: Hiring and Retaining a Dispersed Workforce]
2. Get laser-focused about what you're looking for
By necessity, the traditional interviewing process includes informal interaction with a candidate. Remote interviewing removes almost all of those touchpoints, putting a lot more pressure on every interaction with a candidate. To make sure you're using your time and the candidate's time effectively, get laser-focused about what you're looking for before you meet:
- Send a detailed schedule to the candidate and fellow interviewers to make sure you'll stay on topic and make the most of your time together, including breaks for interviews longer than 60 minutes
- Coordinate with panel interviewers to make sure that important questions are prepared ahead of time, possibly assigning specific competencies for each interviewer to dig deeper on
- Branch out from the job description to identify the hard and soft skills, attributes, and competencies that are most important for the position and double-check that your interview questions address them all
Focusing tips for remote interviewing:
DO avoid distractions. Minimize any ambient noise in the space you will be using, check that the background is clutter-free and professional-looking, and that there is sufficient lighting for the video. Before logging in, put your phone (mobile and/or desk) on silent mode, close (and perhaps even lock) the door, or hang a 'do not disturb' sign.
DON'T type on your computer while the candidate is talking. Instead, plan to take notes on paper. If you do need to type, it's best to let the candidate know ahead of time, and consider muting yourself to minimize the disruption.
3. When in doubt, over-communicate
The faceless and digital nature of remote interviewing leaves a lot of room for miscommunication. The best way to eliminate blunders and alleviate stress is to keep the candidate as informed as possible throughout the entire interview process, and to over-communicate as a candidate advances further. When candidates know what's coming next, they feel respected and valued and are likely to come away with a positive impression of your organization. Prior to the remote interview, make sure your candidates know:
- Approximate timeline for the hiring process
- Any potential factors that could delay that timeline
- Names and roles of the interview participants
- Anticipated response time after the interview is conducted
Communication tips for remote interviewing:
DO be expressive - it's much more difficult to pick up on body language when video conferencing, but some things are obvious: look directly into the camera to maintain eye contact, and sit up straight to let the candidate know you are listening and engaged.
DON'T leave candidates hanging. Before concluding the remote interview, let them
know the expected response time, then make sure to follow through and get back to them within the stated time frame.
[Keep reading: More Tips for Virtual Interviews]
Welcome to the future of recruiting and hiring
As remote work gains traction as the new normal, the need for recruiters and hiring managers who excel at remote interviewing will grow, too. Ensure the best possible outcomes by creating a positive and productive experience for candidates going through your interviewing process - the results will speak for themselves.
How managers at your organization interview candidates matters and will show up in company reviews. To get involved in the conversation on Glassdoor and start managing and promoting your employer brand reputation, unlock your Free Employer Profile today.