Remote interviews have largely become the norm in recent years, with many HR professionals and candidates alike seeking helpful tips for conducting an interview remotely.
What may have worked well in the past, when face to face interviews was the norm, may no longer be sufficient to ascertain a candidate’s eagerness and engagement with the organisation. Thus, identifying preferred candidates over (often) vast geographical distances through remote conferencing software requires effective tips for conducting an interview.
Below are twelve tips for conducting an interview remotely so that HR professionals can best leverage their talent acquisition. They are designed to attract candidates suitable for the role, no matter what part of the world they are being interviewed from.
Helpful Tips for Conducting an Interview
Preparing yourself to find the best possible candidate for a job opening is extremely important now as it was in the past. With an enormous number of job postings comes an equally enormous number of potential candidates all hoping to present themselves to your organisation through a Zoom interview.
This also means that there are far more poor candidates that your team will need to identify and remove from the candidate pool since a bad hire can easily cost tens of thousands of euros. In a study by Northwestern University in America, a bad hire can cost as much as 30 per cent of their first year’s salary, not to mention the opportunity cost of not having chosen a better, more productive candidate.
The below tips for conducting an interview remotely can help your HR team make better, more informed decisions over candidates given the constraints of a video conference call.
1. Minimise Technical Glitches
First and foremost, it’s essential for any recruiter conducting an interview remotely, to try minimise the chances of technical and hardware/software difficulties. For many recruiters, Zoom and Skype for Business are common picks, with the former having surged during the pandemic from around 10 million users to well over 300 million users. With such popularity, the user interface is clean, streamlined, so there should be few technical errors.
Regardless, it’s always good to check that your webcam and microphone are working properly (Zoom has webcam and microphone testing features). You also need to make sure that your login credentials and password are correct, and that your Wi-Fi or broadband connection is reliable.
If you are using HR software tools ensure that they are not interfering with the interview with candidates. Generally, this isn’t an issue but it is always recommended to check with a co-worker first.
2. Have a Plan B
Following on the previous point, even if your internet connection is reliable at this moment, what’s to say that it won’t go during the interview? When interviewing from home, your internet may slow down due to spikes in demand.
That’s why it’s important to have a plan B. Ensure that you’ve got the email addresses and/or telephone numbers of interviewees in case an interview isn’t possible via videoconferencing software. Old-fashioned telephone interviews, for example, might be a reasonable substitute for a, particularly promising candidate.
3. Embrace the Ascent of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence (EQ) encompasses the candidate’s ability to relate to others, how well they adapt to changing circumstances, and to think dynamically in the face of rapid changes in the business world.
Leadership and management training almost always includes EQ as a core component. An emotional intelligence assessment is not an IQ test!
In an extensive survey conducted by LinkedIn, the number one skill recruiters are looking for in 2021 is adaptability. Personal development is another key trait that recruiters are looking for. These skills can be gleaned over a Zoom conference call, even if it tends to be easier to identify in a ‘real’ in-person interview.
Consider asking the candidate questions that stimulate their EQ, such as:
- Have you ever had to deal with conflicting priorities/tasks, and if so, how did you deal with them on an interpersonal basis?
- What drives you personally?
- What would you consider your top three values if you started a business tomorrow?
4. Take Advantage of Your Monitor’s Sense of Safety
The lack of in-person spontaneity and character can indeed be lost over a computer monitor, but that doesn’t mean everything is lost and impersonal. Consider that both you and the candidate are sitting about half a metre away from the webcam. This gives the psychological impression of proximity. You need to help make the candidate feel the need to be open.
You may be thousands of kilometres and perhaps even continents apart from one another, but over a conference call, the illusion of proximity can, to some extent, be conveyed. Within reason, don’t hesitate to loosen up a little and ask the candidate more personal questions about their desires, dreams, and inspiration. You may find that they’re more willing to open up and reveal interesting insights that can help you narrow down your pool of candidates.
5. Discuss Pandemic-related Challenges
The reality of the pandemic is, for many, a contentious and perhaps even divisive issue and as such recruiters should ideally tread lightly when dealing with issues stemming from the pandemic. Redundancies, temporary layoffs, career changes, and lack of career progression during these uncertain times are challenges that can be addressed without getting too personal.
Nevertheless, almost everyone in the world has, to some extent, undergone challenges as a result of government-mandated lockdowns, restrictions to personal freedoms (e.g. travel), and their employment prospects.
Recruiters can gain valuable feedback from candidates regarding the challenges faced during the pandemic, such as how they dealt with and overcame issues such as isolation and self-motivation. By gauging the authenticity of the responses, recruiters may get a better idea of the candidate’s ability to adapt and overcome challenges.
6. Analyse Tone & Facial Expressions
During the interview, pay attention to both your own and the interviewee’s tone of voice and their facial expressions. You may not physically be in the same room as them, but you’re still able to communicate non-verbally over a webcam.
Pay attention to your mannerisms too since you are reflecting the business. Corporate training can help recruiters better reflect the values of their organisation.
One of the limitations, however, is latency. Although Zoom, for example, works hard to maintain a latency of no more than 150 milliseconds, poor internet connections can lead to an awful experience. Speak softly and slowly whilst leaving ample time for the interviewee to respond.
7. Observe Distractions
It’s possible and desirable to minimise distractions in a physical interview room, but when taking place at a candidate’s home, distractions should be expected to some extent. A ring of the doorbell, a distracting cat, or a baby crying in another room is all somewhat common distractions.
What’s important to note is how the candidate responds to such distractions. Do they lose focus? Do they get flustered? Do they ignore the distraction, hoping you don’t notice? Do they react sensibly?
8. Take Breaks Between Interviews
One of the greatest benefits of remote interviews is that recruiters can, in theory, schedule back-to-back interviews. However, getting through candidates at lightning speed has some drawbacks.
Recruiters stand to benefit from ‘digesting’ and taking in each interview. Initial commentary and ‘gut feelings’ about one candidate or another can be noted during small breaks between each interview. Try to take a small break to get up and stretch as well as to consider the interview, or at least take a 10-15 minute break after every two interviews, for example.
9. Broaden Candidate Pools
Zoom and similar videoconferencing software have become the norm with the majority of businesses using some form of virtual technology to review prospective candidates. An HR study conducted by Gartner in 2020 revealed that 86 per cent of organisations have responded to the pandemic by integrating new virtual technologies to review candidates.
Take advantage of the widespread proliferation of these technological innovations to broaden your pool of candidates to areas you perhaps may not have previously considered (depending on the role, naturally). Open up possibilities in greater geographic areas, or consider applicants with a diverse set of skills and qualifications that may not be completely in line with what the job requires – with caution and within reason, of course.
10. Give Candidates a Helping Hand
Zoom and Teams are fairly easy to use and most people have become accustomed to joining calls for well over a year, but technical issues persist. A webcam that’s been shut off or a microphone that’s muted can lead to lost time and frustration, and even great candidates can sometimes experience technical problems.
One tip for conducting an interview remotely that can help your candidates immensely is to provide them all with a link to a document with a few key tips for troubleshooting common Zoom problems, how to unmute their microphone, or even how to change their background to something perhaps less distracting than their living room.
11. Don’t Forget The Man or Woman in the Mirror
As always, interviews are a two-way street. While the recruiter is interviewing candidates, a good candidate will also be interviewing the recruiter to learn more about whether or not the organisation is a good fit for them.
Don’t neglect that your candidates may not only be scheduled for an interview with you but perhaps with a dozen other recruiters for other positions. This means you should undertake efforts to appear professional, clean, and well-groomed just as much as you would expect of your candidates. Interview board training and proper reflective listening skills are essential for recruiters, even if interviews are increasingly held online.
12. Have a Superb Close
Surely if you were the interviewee, you wouldn’t want to be left hanging, wondering “what’s next?” after an interview. This doesn’t mean that you need to provide them with a final decision right there on the spot, but rather to be clear and concise in what the interviewee can expect going forward.
Perhaps you leave time for them to ask questions of their own, which is often a good idea. Perhaps you can let them know generally how long it takes your team to select candidates.
Also, don’t forget to thank the candidate for their time. A small “thank you” goes a long way, especially if the candidate is devoting plenty of their own time in pursuit of the right opportunity.
Recruit Successfully with H-Training
Recruiting the right staff for the job can be a challenge. Take advantage of the robust corporate services offered by H-Training. We have vast experience in preparing companies and HR professionals to conduct superb interviews. Our interview board training and corporate group interview training services are designed to attract and select high-performance candidates that make an excellent fit for your organisation.
At H-Training we also provide comprehensive sales training and strategic consultancy services.
For individuals looking for professional development, we provide a range of career services such as interview coaching, leadership programs and career coaching.