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Tips for Conducting Remote Job Interviews

In Hiring Software & Tools — by Dave Anderson

Remote work is suddenly one of the most talked-about trends among professionals. Every day, people are sharing their work-from-home tips and another well-known company announces plans to expand its remote work policy. 

However, COVID-19 has only accelerated a trend that was already on the rise. FlexJobs reports that the number of remote positions had increased by 44% over the past five years and 91% in the previous decade. 

Whether or not you plan to return to the workplace soon, working from home will be the new reality for many people. They’ll continue to find new ways to collaborate and communicate with others from afar, as we’ve all done the past few months. 

Take the job interview for instance. Meeting with candidates gives you the opportunity to ask questions that result in the best person for the job standing out. You also get to see how they conduct themselves, think on their feet, and handle pressure.

You can still get a sense for a candidate’s aptitude by conducting interviews remotely using video conferencing software—you just need to make a few adjustments. In this blog post, you’ll learn everything it takes to conduct a successful remote job interview.  

Email interview expectations and tips beforehand

The uncertainty of any job interview makes it a stressful experience for a candidate. That’s why we recommend sharing as much information as possible with them before they come in.

This usually means sending an interview schedule, directions to your office, and tips that will help the candidate succeed. In the case of a remote interview, you’ll keep some instructions while including new information that will help them mentally prepare. For example, email an interview schedule along with instructions for using the video conferencing software. The goal is to help the candidate know what is in store once they click the meeting link so give them as much insight as possible. 

Prepare for a successful interview on your end

You expect candidates to show up on time, ready to be put forth the best version of themselves. That means you have to give them the platform needed to make their case for the job.

Be sure to test your technology and find a quiet place in your home to talk with the candidate as if they are right there in front of you. Being ill-prepared for an interview reflects poorly on you and your employer so set aside a few minutes before you start the call to make sure everything is ready to go. 

Evaluate candidates on what matters

While the candidate should also take steps to prepare for a successful remote interview, keep in mind that unexpected issues occur on video calls. 

As you meet with different candidates, don’t let irrelevant factors overly-influence your opinions of them. Interviews might get interrupted by a barking dog or neighbor’s lawnmower. Wifi issues always seem to happen at the worst time. These temporary distractions are annoying but ultimately have nothing to do with a candidate’s job qualifications. 

In the event an entire interview is disrupted, consider asking the candidate to reschedule or finish speaking on the phone. You were impressed enough with their background to grant them an interview so give them every opportunity to share why they’re the right person for the job. 

Avoid team interviews

Asking candidates to meet with multiple team members has become a popular way to conduct interviews. Consolidating interviews shortens the hiring process and makes the experience feel more conversational for the candidate. 

But we all know problems are more likely to occur on a video call when too many people are invited to participate. Minimize the likelihood of tech issues by having candidates interview with only one person at a time. Remote interviews are less burdensome for a candidate since no travel is required so it’s fine to schedule multiple interviews over a few hours. 

Be present and focused

We have to acknowledge there is a different dynamic interviewing someone through video. It’s easy to lose focus and catch your mind drifting, especially with everything going on in the world today. 

Remember that a remote interview isn’t just another meeting on your calendar. Your organization is trusting you to help find its next employee. And the candidate is trying to take advantage of an opportunity to advance their career. Be respectful of everyone involved and ensure you’re present and listening carefully throughout the interview. 

Don’t jump right into the interview

When a candidate comes in for an interview, there is usually a moment of small talk that helps them get comfortable and establish a rapport with you. And you’re able to form an initial impression from the casual conversation. 

Try to replicate the relaxed start when conducting remote interviews. Instead of getting right to the heavy questions, take a minute to get acquainted. Talk about your professional background and what you love about working for the organization. Or use an interesting factoid from the candidate’s resume to ease into the formal interview. 

Take time to talk about culture, the workplace, and team members

In-person interviews give candidates the opportunity to see your organization close up. They leave knowing if they would be happy coming to your workplace every day to work alongside the people they met.

Candidates don’t get those same insights when they interview from home. Fill in the blanks for them by describing what the work environment is like, how your team operates, and who they’ll work closely with. Talk about what your organization values and sets it apart from the other jobs you’ve had. This is where you make your pitch to the candidate and hopefully get them excited to accept a potential offer. 

Take advantage of screen sharing

Many of the tips outlined in this blog post are solutions to the challenges remote interviews present. But there are also advantages to the format thanks to the features offered by video conferencing software.

Traditional job interview questions are generic and hypothetical (“what would you do if…”). In a modern remote interview, you can use screen sharing to show candidates real projects your team is working on and ask how they would contribute. Find out what they think you’ve done well and what they would do differently. 

Supplement interviews with an assessment exercise

Hiring a new employee is a big decision. And it’s common to conclude interviews and still be unsure of who is the best person for the job. You learn what a candidate has accomplished in their career but the conversation doesn’t provide much insight into their skills.

Asking your final candidates to complete a skills assessment or sample project removes the uncertainty and helps you zero in on the most talented person. Come up with an exercise that is applicable to the role and can be completed in under an hour. If you’re on the fence about who to hire, a skills evaluation will help you confidently make a decision.

Keep on hiring

Even as business gets going again, you and your candidates might not feel comfortable interviewing face-to-face. Don’t let physical distance deter your organization from growing its team. You can discover new employees to hire on remote interviews and meet them in person when the time is right.

Trakstar Hire is considered the most user friendly hiring software on the market. If you’re ready to take your recruiting and hiring to the next level, request a Trakstar Hire demo today.