With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, many business operations have shifted online. Recruitment is no exception – an increasing number of interviews are being conducted remotely.

Remote interviews are different from in-person ones. Rather than meet up physically, a remote interview consists of the interviewee and interviewer meeting up virtually through an audio or video call.

To conduct effective remote interviews, here is some advice to keep in mind.

Before The Interview

Review the current interview process

Remote recruitment is very different from regular, pre-COVID recruitment. Consider providing training or orientation for recruiters or interviewers to help them better adapt to the online work environment.

Go over remote interviewing etiquette, such as:

  • Keeping the door closed or locked during an interview
  • Finding a quiet space with little to no background noise for the interview
  • Using headphones or earbuds to prevent echo
  • Turning off notification sounds if these sounds can be heard by those in the call
  • Dressing professionally for the interview
  • Having a neutral, non-distracting background during a video interview
  • Ensuring good lighting during a video interview
  • Leaving a few seconds before speaking in case of lag or glitching
  • Setting up a test run before an interview officially starts
  • Having the contact information of an IT professional to troubleshoot in case an issue arises during the interview

One important tip to highlight is to conduct a test run. Doing a test run of the interview will help you estimate how long the interview will take. It will also ensure your microphone and webcam are both working. You can test your connection to see if there is any lag too.

Decide an interviewing platform to use

There are many different video and audio platforms you can explore for your interviewing purposes. You can choose to conduct your interview through a video call or a phone call, depending on your needs.

If you opt for a video call because you want to see interviewees’ facial expressions and body language, you can choose between many video calling softwares like Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will want to schedule a little extra time than usual for interviews. This is to account for technical difficulties.

Be sure to also prepare links for alternative software in case you need to change from one platform to another – like from Zoom to Google Hangouts.

Set goals for the interview

What are you trying to accomplish with the interview?

Brainstorm some of your goals. For each interview, the goals may be different. They can be tailored to each applicant’s resume or application – for example, one goal could be to find out more about a specific experience that an applicant had and how that could help them fit into your workplace.

Draft interview questions

There are a lot of potential ways you can assess an interviewee’s fit in your company.

For example, asking fun questions to get to know the candidate can help you assess whether they would be an engaged employee who would fit into the company culture.

With the sudden move to remote work environments, you might also want to ask about hypotheticals. This is especially important if an employee has never worked remotely before because a hypothetical scenario or situational questions can help you assess how they would fare in remote work.

Remember to ask questions to assess the interviewee’s soft skills, like how adaptable and flexible they are. These skills are especially valuable in uncertain times. Other important skills to have as a remote worker are communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. These can help ensure a potential employee can work well even under new, uncertain situations.

Communicate with the interviewee

Send details to the interviewee well ahead of time. It is always better to over-communicate here because you want to make sure that the interviewee is prepared.

Some details to communicate include:

  • When the interview is
  • How long the interview is expected to be
  • Who the interview is with (list all names and positions)
  • What platform the interview will be on, and how to use that platform
  • What to prepare beforehand (if needed)
  • Whether the interview will require audio, video, or both
  • Whether the interviewee will be expected to screen share something
  • Interview tips like finding a quiet space with no distractions
Have a backup plan

In case technology fails or the wifi connection is bad, always have a backup plan incase so the interview can run smoothly as planned. For example, have the interviewee’s phone number on hand in case there are issues with a video interview and you have to proceed with a phone one instead.

Be sure to also have the interviewee’s email on hand for quick communication in case something happens, so you will not have to sift through all your contacts.

During The Interview

Be prepared

Like an in-person interview, always have a notes document and a resume or application to refer to. This can help you remember what happened during the interview and give you something to refer to in case you forget anything.

Having a resume to refer to can be useful in case you want more clarification on something you noticed on the resume.

Introduce the company

One key thing to do during the interview is to introduce the interviewers and the company, as well as describe the company culture. Be sure to mention how your company has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic and what the company’s values are.

Hearing about the company’s culture during the interview can help the interviewee decide what attributes or personality traits make them a good fit for the company. This is not necessarily something that can be researched about your company online, so be sure to include fun details like what your favourite part of working for the company is.

Master nonverbal communication

During a video interview, nonverbal communication is important. Nod to show that you are listening and smile to seem friendly and put the interviewee at ease. To help you pay attention to what the interviewee has said, you can take notes – just be sure to mute yourself when typing so you do not distract anyone with the typing sounds.

You will also want to make sure you actually look at the webcam when engaging with the interviewee. While it can be tempting to look at the screen, looking at the webcam instead can make the interview feel more personal like you are making eye contact with the interviewee. You can put googly eyes by your webcam to remind yourself where to look as well.

Prevent distractions

It can be very tempting to open up a new tab and work on something else during the interview. Try to fight the urge to do this and focus on taking notes instead. Taking notes on the interview can help you process what the interviewee is saying, and make you stay focused and present during the interview.

Another thing to remember is to mute yourself when you are listening, and the interviewee is speaking. This is especially important if you are typing notes, because the typing sounds can be a huge distraction for the interviewee. Preferably, you should write out your notes on a piece of paper to prevent distractions.

Blame it on the technology

If you do miss something because you did not pay attention for a few seconds, you can always ask the interviewee to repeat what they said then blame it on a bad connection. This is one of the perks of remote interviews!

End the interview on a strong note

To end the interview, clearly communicate the next steps in the hiring process. Let the interviewee know when they should expect to hear back from you, and whether you will be emailing or calling.

As always, remember to ask if the interviewee has any questions for you. You can also ask if there are any questions that they wish you had asked because often interviewees will have prepared for a question that you had not even thought of asking.

Thank the interviewee for their time. You are representing the company, so you should present yourself in a positive way so that interviewees leave with a positive view of the company as well.

Be patient and empathetic

One last thing to keep in mind throughout the interview is that the world can be very uncertain and stressful right now. During these uncertain times, remember to be empathetic towards potential employees. Show understanding, compassion, and kindness, which can include being clear about your expectations so that potential employees are not misled.

If any technical issues happen, be patient, calm, and understanding. After all, you would have scheduled extra time to account for these issues in the first place.

After The Interview

Update your team

If you took interview notes, share these notes with the rest of the team. You will want to be aware of the timeline, along with any deadlines to make a decision.

Follow up

Remember to follow up with the interviewee after the interview. If the interviewee was not selected or shortlisted, offer to provide feedback for them so they can improve. If you really liked the candidate, consider making a note of their contact information so you can keep them in the hiring pool for future positions.

If the interviewee is selected or shortlisted, be clear about next steps and the onboarding process. Send over the relevant details and ensure that they feel prepared and excited to be a part of the team.

Want to learn more about recruitment and on-boarding during COVID-19 and how to manage employees in remote workplaces?

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