In these challenging and uncertain times businesses are having to adapt the way they do things and that includes changing their recruitment process. It’s now even more important to ensure you are attracting and bringing in the right talent to your business but how can this be done when it is difficult to conduct initial face to face interviews?
Remote interviews are now commonplace but interviewing candidates virtually presents challenges for HR and hiring managers alike. What’s the best way to conduct an online interview? How can you create an excellent candidate experience and how can you confidently make an offer to someone you’ve never physically met?
Below are our tips for ensuring you get the most out of your remote interviews.
1/ PREPARATION IS KEY!
To get the most out of your interviews don’t try and wing it! Prepare for all eventualities and things should run smoothly from start to finish:
There are many online meeting platforms to choose from including Zoom, Skype, Google Meetings, Microsoft Teams and even facetime and most of these offer free options. It’s a good idea to conduct a trial run through a day or so beforehand, so you can adapt if anything isn’t working.
Check your webcam, microphone and internet connection all work and that you know your login information, especially if you haven’t used it in a while. If you’re using your phone or tablet make sure they are fully charged and connected to the internet. You might want to log in a few minutes early so that you know everything is working as it should and you’re not rushing when the interview begins
Ensure you have a structure for the interview to follow so that all candidates go through the same process and can be easily assessed against each other. Ascertain exactly what skills, experience and behaviours are required for the role and prepare open questions around these that will explore a candidates suitability for the position. Make sure you also have a printed-out version of the candidates CV.
Our interview guide “Interview like a Pro!” could help here with guidance of how to conduct a structured interview and over 100 competency questions to choose from.
Click HERE to download a free copy.
2/ CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
It is still possible to create an excellent candidate experience even though it is being conducted remotely. Differentiate yourself by providing an excellent interview process.
- Ensure that any email invitations and confirmations are written to support a remote hiring experience. It’s a good idea to create a template clearly communicating the details of the meeting and what the candidate can expect. Remember to include the names and positions of all people involved in the meeting. This will put the candidate at ease and make the entire process run smoothly.
- Under the circumstances most candidates will be expecting an onerous interview and will be feeling more uncertain than they did a couple of months ago. They are likely to be doing the interview from home so may be worried about interruptions from children, pets or roommates so in the first 5 minutes of the interview relieve some of the tension by setting some clear expectations
- Tell them you understand that candidates have families and pets and that it’s ok if things get interrupted.
- Also let them know that if the internet goes down or the communication gets cut what will happen and how you will get back in touch
- If possible, give them a tour of the office. Take a video or photos to give them a virtual tour of your physical workplace. That way, they can see the office and get a glimpse into your culture. Many platforms allow you to share your screens so you can present this to the candidate interactively. Alternatively email a link for them to view afterwards.
3/ HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN
Sometimes things don’t go as planned. The internet may go down or the platform experiences technical difficulties. Make sure to have the candidates email and phone number to hand so you can easily connect. You might end up having a phone conversation if this is the case.
Another potential issue is bandwidth. If more than one person is online at the same time in a household, it could cause delays or other issues with video conferencing tools. While not ideal, one option to address this is to turn off the video function on the platform you’re using during the interview. You’ll still be able to talk to each other on whatever platform you’re using, just without the video. You might alternatively want to reschedule the interview at a time when fewer people in the home are online.
4/ MINIMISE DISTRACTIONS AND LOOK PROFESSIONAL
Although it may seem obvious, before you start the interview, check that your phone is switched off, or to silent, along with any alerts and notifications that may popup on your computer. If you are in a house with others it may be worth putting a do not disturb sign on the door. Of course dress as you would at work, even if you are at home and make sure the background the candidate will see is free of any clutter that could be distracting.
5/ PAY ATTENTION TO FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND TONE OF VOICE
It’s important to keep your voice calm and to speak clearly, but also be sure you smile and laugh when appropriate, just as you would in person. You’ll want to demonstrate to the candidate that you’re engaged in the conversation.
Also leave a few seconds at the end of each question or sentence to minimise talking over each other. Look at the camera when you’re speaking, not your own image or the other person’s image, as tempting as that may be. That way you will create the impression of having eye contact with the candidate.
6/ QUICKLY BUILD TRUST VIA VIDEO
With a remote interview, it’s important to establish trust as soon as possible. A friendly approach works best: “Hi I’m David, Managing Director of Root2 Recruit. Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I thought I would start by giving a brief overview what we’ll talk about today so you know what to expect from our conversation. How does that sound to you?
7/ KEEP THE INTERVIEW MOVING
Allowing a candidate to carry on answering a question when you are lost or bored doesn’t do them any favours. The kindest and most productive thing you can do is to interrupt and ask them to clarify, start again or move on to the next topic. It’s your responsibility to make the best use of your time together. When interviewing remotely, you will need to be more forceful with your interruptions than you would be in person. You can still keep them at ease with positive language and a smile.
- If you’re confused: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I think I missed something and I want to make sure I understand. Could you go back to [the point you want to clarify]?”
- If they’re giving a long answer to a short question: “Can I interrupt? Thanks for sharing all that, but I want to make sure we leave enough time for all the things we have to cover.”
- If they’re getting side tracked and you haven’t got an answer yet: “Before we go on, I think we’re getting too much into the detail and I want to go back to my original question, [then restate original question].”
8/ ENSURE EVIDENCE-BASED DECISION MAKING
To recruit well, you want to understand the skills needed for a particular role and build an interview process that allows you to evaluate those skills. It’s important to base the evaluation on evidence rather than just the quality of your conversation. It’s nearly always a mistake to recruit someone based solely on their likeability. Of course, don’t hire talented individuals you dislike but in addition to assessing how nice a person is gather evidence from them that will highlight they will be able to do the work you require. When you aren’t bringing candidates on-site, there are several good ways to obtain this evidence such as asking for examples of previous work, setting a challenge based on work they will be doing and make use of references. If possible, speak to their previous line manager and outline the role that the candidate will be doing and the qualities and skills you will be looking for. Again take a structured approach to the reference call and ask specific open questions aimed at getting evidence of their ability to fulfil the requirements of the role such as “What challenges might you see for [The candidate] in the role I’ve described?” or “what suggestions would you have as their manager to help them do their best work?”
9/ HAVE A STRONG CLOSE
When the interview has finished tell candidates what’s going to happen next and ask if they have any questions. Be sure to thank them for their time as well.
Ultimately, you are representing your company during an online interview. Knowing how to effectively conduct a video interview will leave candidates with a positive view of both you and the business.
Schedule a 15-to 30-minute debrief on the same day with all colleagues involved with the interview process. If you use Slack or Microsoft Teams, create a group message for all the interviewers to provide feedback while the candidate is still fresh in everyone’s minds. You can forget a lot of insight waiting until the following day to regroup. However, it is prudent to complete your own assessments first to avoid being influenced by others.
In the end, conducting remote interviews means being more accommodating and empathetic. A lot of companies throw people into an interview, remote or in-person. Being remote means you should be even more mindful of a candidate’s experience.
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