How to Conduct Successful Remote Interviews

  If there’s one thing we’ve all had to get our head around during the pandemic, it’s doing things virtually – and interviews are no different.    While some recruitment agencies and hiring managers are used to conducting video interviews, for others, it’s a whole new world. The good news is, it’s not that different…

 
If there’s one thing we’ve all had to get our head around during the pandemic, it’s doing things virtually – and interviews are no different. 
 
While some recruitment agencies and hiring managers are used to conducting video interviews, for others, it’s a whole new world. The good news is, it’s not that different to a face-to-face interview, but you need to first get your head around the video-conferencing platform you’re using and do some prep to minimise confusion and ensure the interview goes smoothly. 
 
Here are our top tips for conducting a remote interview that’ll go off without a hitch – and hopefully help you find the best candidate for the job. 
 

1. Create a process  

You’ve booked in the candidate for a remote interview. Now’s the time to send them an email outlining the interview date and time, the link to log in and some simple instructions for using the video-conferencing platform, in case they’re not familiar with it.  
 
You might like to include the above details in a pdf running sheet that also outlines how the interview will unfold, and the names of the people on the panel that the candidate will be meeting. If you have specific expectations of the candidate, like asking them to solve a problem or demonstrate their skills in some way, include that in the run-through document, especially if they’ll have to prepare beforehand. Don’t forget to send a reminder email with the video conferencing link on the day of the interview as well, to reduce stress and potential delays. 
 

2. Check the tech  

If you’re not used to using Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams or other video-conferencing platforms, get yourself and your team up to speed with a quick dry run. 
 
First up, test your internet connection and make sure your camera and microphone are working. You’ll also want to familiarise yourself with any settings you may need. That includes knowing how to let the candidate into the interview (some platforms like Zoom will put participants in a ‘waiting room’ so you have to manually admit them). Also check that the share-screen function enables you and the candidate to share your screen on the day, because working it out on the fly can be frustrating and fiddly! 
 

3. Eliminate distractions 

Interviews can be stressful for candidates at the best of times, so take steps to make the process free from distractions. Choose a quiet space with good lighting to conduct the interview. If you’re working from the office, you might like to take your interviewee on a mini-tour of the workplace to relax them before you get into the nitty gritty. Alternately, if you’re working from home and conducting the interview from the spare bedroom, choose a professional background. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the candidate, and smile! 
 
Oh, and if your toddler or Fido the dog does barge in, deal with it quickly, apologise and get back to the interview ASAP. Everyone’s used to making allowances for this kind of thing in our post-Covid world, right? 
 

4. Come prepared 

Prior to the interview, read over the candidate’s CV carefully and print it out so you have a copy to refer to. Ideally, you’ll have already checked out the person’s LinkedIn or other socials and know a bit about them and their skills and experience. A print-out with a list of key questions you want to ask the candidate is also important.  
 
If there are other people on a panel at the interview, make sure you all log in a few minutes early so you can do a final sound and tech check, and ensure it’s not a mad rush when the interview starts. If you’ll all be asking questions of the candidate, plan ahead to split up the questions accordingly to minimise the risk of talking over one another (a rookie error!). 
 

5. Plan for the worst 

Sometimes, even with the best intentions and pre-checks, technology just won’t play nice. You or your candidate may experience internet problems or interruptions you simply can’t control. This isn’t uncommon if multiple people are using the internet in the one home location. 
 
You could suggest turning off your video and just using audio to save bandwidth, scheduling the interview for another time, or switching to a phone interview. Make sure you always have your candidate’s phone number, so you can switch to a phone interview without too much fuss. 
 

6. End it well 

Once the interview is over, make sure you ask the candidate if they have any questions about the role or the company so they can get a sense of the culture and whether they’d be a good fit. 
 
You should also thank the candidate for their time and make sure you let them know about the next steps in the process, including when they may be contacted for a follow-up interview or to know the outcome. 
 
Looking for information about the current jobs market or more posts to help you hire the right candidates? Check out Frontline Recruiting’s Toolkit or browse our blog for the latest posts.