More than 30% of the world’s population is observing some kind of lockdown right now. So it’s inevitable that business—and the business of people—finds alternatives online.
Virtual meetings have become a handy stand-in for in-person meetings. By the same rule, a remote interview can serve the purpose of the ‘real’ face-to-face thing. Xperti enhanced its online screening capabilities last month. Our purpose was to make remote work easier in the hiring process. Today’s article is for the hiring manager struggling to get this part of his/her remote work. We offer 7 remote interview tips for conducting interviews.
7 Remote Interview Tips
1. Optimizing The Use Of Virtual Tools In Your Remote Work
A remote interview shares the purpose of its non-virtual counterpart. To identify the best talent.
But remember how:
- Uncomfortable chairs
- Foul odor
- Dim lighting and
- Missing stationery
Made such an interview ineffective? It works the same way with a remote interview. The misuse or uninformed use of a remote interview tool can waste time and test patience on both sides. Using recording features (without prior consent) can build mistrust. And prevent the top talent- hiring manager relationship from progressing.
Before you schedule a remote interview, make sure all your interview tools, i.e.:
- The platform or tool (e.g. Zoom)
- Recording and mapping tools
- Whiteboarding tools (if needed)
Are already tested by both the hiring manager and the potential top talent. Confirm by call and/or message. Time on both sides is valuable.
If your candidate is uneasy using a specific tool, ask him/her for an alternative. Get well-versed on that before you schedule the remote interview.
2. Human Preparation
The hiring process has never been easy. One interview is never enough to identify top talent. Every hiring manager can testify to that.
The traditional counterpart of the remote interview was rife with inadequacies. Even before the latter took center stage in the hiring process.
How do we ensure those errors don’t carry over into our next remote interview?
The answer? Preparation. Study the resume well. Have your list of questions ready. Expect follow-up questions and add those. It’s alright if you don’t get to use them. Not having them would be worse.
Your own preparation, i.e. Monitoring and managing your:
- Energy levels
- Attentiveness (tough in a remote work situation)!
- Interview space
Is important. In equal measure. If one remote interview overruns into the next, guess who’s going to be more flustered. (Hint, not top talent).
Although it’s a virtual interview, it’s important to look the part. Make the effort to get dressed. Have your coffee/water at hand so that the interview can continue uninterrupted. One of our bonus remote interview tips: Schedule breaks and stretches between interviews. That way your mind and body are both ready for the task at hand.
3. Identifying The Right Clues
Interviews are inadequate mechanisms to identify the best talent. Earlier research already alluded to that.
A lasting criticism against traditional F2F interviewing is the prevalence of “selection bias”. In a remote interview, these and other cognitive biases can get magnified manifold. How do you ensure your now-virtual hiring process will not have them?
Here, we reach out to our bonus remote interview tips again:
- Ensure you receive the candidate’s consent for recording the remote interview.
- Focus on the candidate’s body language, especially for trick questions.
- Make a note of anything that troubles you. This could be shifty body language, evasion, defensiveness.
- There can be other red flags too. Xperti often comes across “fake candidates”. i.e. Jobseekers who cheat in their remote interviews, use prompters and google answers. Watch out for those.
Emotional cues that important offline are as important in a remote interview. You can use Xperti’s 3-stage assessment to measure these better.
Our bonus remote interview tips come in again: Introspect. The candidate may be responding to unique quirks of your interview style. Practice so you can filter them out!
4. Panel Interviews
Hiring managers actually have an advantage in remote work. Especially when it comes to panel interviews. In offline interviews, a sly candidate can read emotional dynamics between panel members. He/she can then play to the strengths of each. The result? A “transparent” evaluation ends up being a manipulated power-play.
In a remote work situation, panel members are as distant as the candidate is from the hiring manager. So picking on non-verbal cues will be very difficult for the candidate. But the panel is free to exchange messages. They can even comment on the candidate during the interview. Discrete, efficient, consensus.
What more could a hiring manager want?
The answer is subject to the basics falling in place. Your entire advantage as a panel will backfire if there’s a tiny slip. For example:
If one or more panel members don’t log in on time. Or forgets to mute his/her devices.
As the one leading the hiring process, it’s your job to follow up with each one.
Ensure they have the right information about the:
- Interview date, time and platform link. (With so many virtual meetings, it can be hard to keep track)!
- Interview and post-interview process
5. Chart It Out
Even with the best intentions, things can go wrong. (Yes, even then).
As a hiring manager, you have extra remote work responsibility. Take charge of things before, during and even after the actual interview. We’ve already described some planning ideas in #4 of our remote interview tips.
During the interview, send out housekeeping rules on mobile use, muting protocol and so on. Keep control as the host, so that there aren’t any untoward interruptions. Even if there are seniors on the panel.
The event host doubles as an administrator—so it’s the best way of:
- Keeping track of time
- Ensuring everyone participates equally
- Adhere to all interviewing norms and make sure everyone else does, too. And that
- Everyone agrees to the next steps. (No over- or under- commitments to the candidates)
If you’ve provided your panel with a feedback survey link, follow up to make sure everyone fills it on time.
6. Your Remote Work Backup Plan
Remember the virtual tools we spoke of in remote interview tips #1? Sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes they don’t work well. While interviewing offshore candidates, you’ll often encounter:
- Connectivity issues
- Voice breakage and other nuisances
To prevent these from wasting your time (and your candidate’s), prepare a backup plan. If Zoom isn’t working, conduct an interview on WhatsApp or Skype. Borrow an extra device to record the proceedings. Even if you’re comfortable taking e-notes or typing into Google Sheets, keep a pen and paper handy. In the case of panel interviews, plan for contingencies. Ask other team members if they’ll be available in the same timeslots. Your interview schedule must be flexible enough to accommodate slot swapping.
None of what we’re mentioning here is strategic or tactical. It’s operational. It requires you to visualize “What If” scenarios.
Your remote work backup plan requires you to ask for some information beforehand. E.g.
- The candidate’s Skype/WhatsApp ID
- Availability of confirmed panel and contingency panel
- Availability of extra devices
- Data consent
- Adherence to proper data transfer, storage, deletion procedures as outlined in the law.
7. Be Understanding
When one puts in all this effort, it’s natural to expect the best. But that doesn’t happen. Sometimes a candidate backs out. Sometimes the top talent you identified (by his/her resume) bombs during the interview. Some reschedules and follow-ups are so frustrating, it’s easier to give up!
Don’t let that happen. Thanks to COVID-19, we’re all fighting our own battles. Could it be that a candidate reschedules to tend to sick children? A panel interviewer may be under pressure to complete another task? By all means follow up on your requirements. But be patient.
Be understanding. Everyone’s goal is the same: The best talent should get the best job.
Remember the 7 Important Tips for Conducting Remote Interviews
- Optimizing The Use Of Virtual Tools In Your Remote Work
The best remote interviews make use of much more than a monitor. How can you optimize your use of virtual tools?
- Human Preparation
Traditional interviewing techniques are rife with biases. Make sure you take out a moment to acknowledge and minimize your own implicit biases.
- Identify The Right Clues
Nonverbal communication is just as important in remote interviews. Don’t miss out on what’s being said with body language.
- Panel Interviews
Coordination is key when arranging members of a panel interview.
- Chart It Out
Plan, plan, plan. When it comes to people-centric activities, you can never over-plan.
- Your Remote Work Backup Plan
Prepare for contingencies by charging your devices, and extending your interview panel.
- Be Understanding
Let your compassionate side show. The candidate will appreciate it!
At Xperti, technology drives our process and our mission. So we don’t see remote interviews taking a backseat anytime soon. We expect this to be the norm for future hiring managers. Seeing how it already opens them to a wider, receptive talent pool.