Remote Interview Tips and Techniques for Employers

woman having Video Conference

Are you looking to leverage technology to streamline your company's interviewing process? Remote interviewing can be a great way to improve interviewing efficiency and cast a wider net for candidates to fill important job orders. Of course, everything you know about how to interview applicants still applies when doing so remotely, but there are some special considerations for technology-mediated candidate screening conversations.

Adapt Your Process for Remote Interviewing

Using remote interviews allows you to interview candidates regardless of geography, without requiring them to visit your office in person. If you are hiring at-home workers, you may want to use remote interviewing throughout the entire interview process, from first interview through job offer. If you are hiring for an on-site position, consider using remote interviews for the early stages, but bring the final few candidates into the office for a face-to-face interview as the last phase of the interview process, prior to making the selection decision.

Clarify Candidate Expectations

Barbie Brewer, Chief People Officer for LoveToKnow Media stresses, "When scheduling an applicant for a remote interview, it's important to set very clear expectations." For example, Brewer feels strongly that remote interviews should "always be video." However, as she points out, "The fact that you send a login link for an interview, doesn't mean that candidates will automatically assume that they will need to be on camera." It is the interviewer's responsibility to set that expectation.

  • Brewer urges, "Make sure candidates know that they will be expected to use video during the interview, and explain different means for doing so, such as using a computer with webcam or a mobile phone."
  • It's also a good idea to specify in the job posting that remote interviewing with video is part of the hiring process, so that candidates won't be surprised.

Adjust Interviewer Expectations

Hiring decision makers who are new to conducting virtual interviews will need to reset their own expectations accordingly. As Brewer points out, "Interviewers should expect that there may be distractions, and shouldn't hold that against candidates." Brewer advises, "Remote interviewers need to lose unconscious biases that could impact their decision-making, such as what people's homes look like or whether kids or pets pop into view." After all, candidates may not have a dedicated home office, or they may not have the most powerful internet service in the location from which they're calling. Brewer cautions, "It's important to have flexibility to not lose great candidates because of bandwidth limitations."

woman enjoying video chat on laptop

Select the Best Virtual Interview Software and Tools

Brewer recommends Zoom as the "preferred technology" for conducting candidate interviews. With Zoom, the interviewer can see candidates and candidates can see the interviewer, which is one reason it works so well for interviews. This capability helps personalize the interview process and allows for interviewers and applicants to make a meaningful connection.

Other benefits of Zoom for interviewing include:

  • Zoom is very user-friendly; even candidates who aren't tech-savvy tend to find it easy to use.
  • It's very flexible, as it can easily be used from any computer or mobile device with internet connectivity.
  • Brewer also likes Zoom's adaptive streaming and green screen technology, which allows users to display a custom background.

Brewer points out that interviewers who use Zoom can even use a Meeting OWL add-on. She explains, "This device allows interviewees to see the whole room, with a dedicated window for whoever is speaking." This is a great option for virtual panel interviews where all interviewers are in the same location.

Remote Interview Best Practices and Tips for Employers

A few best practices and tips to keep in mind when scheduling and conducting remote interviews with job candidates include:

  • If you're new to conducting remote interviews, do a practice run-through with a coworker to be sure that you're comfortable using the technology.
  • It's important to make eye contact with candidates, even in a remote interview. Brewer suggests, "Minimize your window so you don't see yourself and focus only on the candidate."
  • When scheduling virtual interviews, be sure to specify the time zone in writing when setting appointments. Ideally, state it it in multiple time zones (such as 11 am PST, 12 pm MST, 1 pm CST / 2 pm EST) to minimize the possibility of confusion.
  • Provide candidates with detailed login information well in advance so they have time to do a system check on their end. Include specific instructions to verify that both audio and video are functional.
  • Review the job description before the job interview and make a list of appropriate questions to ask. Depending on the job, include standard interview questions along with behavioral items and some challenging questions.
  • As with any interview, really listen to what each candidate has to say. Use what you learn to form follow-up or clarifying questions and to inform your hiring decision.
  • Peruse the candidate's job application and resume ahead of time so you're familiar with the individual's qualifications. Use that information to form some customized questions.
  • Make sure you can access their job application or resume during the conversation without having to click away from the screen being used for the interview itself. If you don't have the capability of splitting your screen, consider pulling those documents up via your smartphone or other mobile device before the interview starts so you'll easily be able to reference them during the conversation.
  • While Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms will allow for recording, it's generally not advisable to record interviews. If, for some reason, your employer insists on recording, be sure to disclose that information before starting the meeting and have the candidate state on the recording that he or she consents to being recording.
  • If the position is one that requires working in a physical location, Brewer suggests sharing some pictures or videos with candidates, to illustrate what the worksite looks like.

Establishing a Successful Remote Job Interview Process

Whether you're hiring for remote jobs or screening candidates for an in-office job, remote interviews can be a powerful tool for talent acquisition. With remote interviewing, the goal is no different than with a traditional, face-to-face interview. Whether you're an HR professional, manager, or business owner, your staffing goals should always include identifying the best candidates to meet your organization's human capital needs and recruit them to join your team. Incorporating virtual interviewing into the screening process allows you to do so in a manner that efficient and cost-effective for the organization while also being respectful of candidates' time.

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