Recruiting and hiring new employees works differently in remote teams. This includes the interview process. Conducting interviews remotely requires a different approach than traditional in-person interviews. Not meeting candidates face-to-face makes it harder to get to know them properly during the interview, and with the entire process taking place remotely, it’s a lot easier to lose qualified candidates along the way.
Creating a seamless remote interview process which not only allows HR and Talent Acquisition to identify the best candidate but also makes applicants feel at ease should be a top priority for businesses in the era of remote work. But how can organizations set up an effective and smooth remote job interview process to build a global team?
The key difference between a remote interview (also called virtual or online interview) and a traditional in-person interview is obviously the location of the interview partners. As the name suggests, remote job interviews are conducted remotely, meaning that interviewer and interviewee are in two separate locations and communicate via videoconferencing.
While this distinction might seem trivial, the fact that interviewer and interviewee don’t actually meet face to face during a virtual job interview has a significant impact on engagement and body language. Online interviews lag behind face-to-face interviews when it comes to engagement, and seeing the conversation partner through the lens of a camera also makes it harder to perceive and interpret body language.
The reason why so many businesses and HR teams are still hesitant when it comes to remote interviewing is that conducting virtual interviews comes with some additional challenges that add to the pressure of having to identify the best candidate.
One of these challenges is the possibility of having technical difficulties. As with virtual team meetings, there can always be a problem with the internet connection, the software, the camera, the microphone or any other technical component needed for the interview.
Another challenge which is unique to online interviews is that it’s a lot more difficult to get to know the candidate properly without meeting him or her in person. That is because many of the non-verbal cues that provide information during a face-to-face conversation are missing in virtual encounters.
Without these additional, non-verbal pieces of information, it’s a lot harder to interpret the reactions of the person at the other end of the video call, which could lead to misinterpreting certain statements and ultimately having a less positive impression of a candidate. Also, videoconferencing usually fails to capture things such as a candidate’s charisma, which can equally distort the overall impression.
Also read in the Lano Employment Academy: How to set up a remote hiring policy?
Many people perceive remote interview situations as awkward; therefore, virtual interview processes should, first and foremost, aim at being a pleasant experience for both the HR team and the candidate. Of course, whether the candidate feels at ease during the conversation largely depends on the personality and behavior of the person conducting the job interview. But it’s a lot easier for candidates to feel less nervous if they know what to expect.
Also, a good remote interview is a job interview which is conducted professionally and effectively and runs smoothly from start to finish. This means that, at any given moment of the interview process, the candidate should know what the next steps are so that they can prepare. And just as for an in-person interview, the conversation shouldn’t drag on for ages. Instead, recruiters should set a clear timeframe for the interview, usually not longer than 30 to 60 minutes.
So, now that we know what the interview process at a remote business should be like, the next question is how to get there. In other words, how to create a smooth, effective remote job interview process. Here are a few actionable tips.
Carefully prepared interview questions are the key to identifying the right candidate. Some might even argue that this is even more important when setting up a remote interview process, since there are even more criteria to take into consideration.
First of all, the position is most likely a remote one, which means that, in addition to everything else, the HR department needs to find out if the candidate is remote ready. Second, it’s important to remember to check for team fit, which can be tricky in a remote organization. And last but not least, preparing interview questions in advance means leaving less room for bias, which facilitates ethical hiring.
Also read in the Lano Employment Academy: How to find out if candidates are remote ready?
Regardless of whether candidates are interviewed remotely or in-person, it’s crucial to appear professional. This means that the space from where the interview is conducted needs to give off the same vibe. In other words, the space should be quiet, well-lit and free of any personal clutter.
Too much or too little light can make it difficult for interviewer and interviewee to see one another properly, which makes it even harder to perceive body language or other non-verbal cues of communication. Objects in the background can be distracting and should therefore be removed.
Having the necessary technology is crucial to ensure virtual interviews run smoothly. There are a ton of video conferencing solutions out there which can be used for conducting remote interviews, including Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.
In addition to choosing the right software, it’s also important that the camera and microphone used during interview calls allow for high-quality transmission of visual and auditory information. All the equipment should be tested before the first real interview to see if everything runs smoothly.
Also read in the Lano Employment Academy: What technologies can help businesses hire remote teams?
Although the job interview itself is the central part of the remote interview process, the work doesn’t start (nor does it stop) there. Organizations should also think about what needs to happen before and after the interview to keep up a consistent flow of information.
A detailed schedule that shows exactly how far in advance details about the interview need to be sent to candidates and the participants of the hiring panel can help with this. It’s also a good idea to set reminders to send out follow-up information and thank-you notes. This ensures candidates know where they stand and what to expect.
Furthermore, all the documents that might be needed in the process must be prepared. Email templates containing information about the interview process, expectations and more can be created in advance. The same goes for employee handbooks and other information that could be useful for potential future employees.
All the documentation that will be needed during the remote interview process should be saved in a separate folder for easy access, together with an onboarding checklist for new employees.
Emailing back and forth with candidates to find a date and time for the interview that works for everyone is time-consuming and slow. To avoid spending too much time on coordinating interview schedules, it can be a good idea to set up an online calendar that shows all the available time slots. This way, candidates can book the interview slot that works best for them.
By following the different steps outlined above, HR departments should already be well set-up for conducting successful remote interviews. But there’s always room for improvement. Here are some virtual interviewing tips for hiring managers.
It’s true that conducting interviews remotely requires the same level of professionalism as an in-person interview. But being professional doesn’t exclude being personable. Online interviews often feel less natural than face-to-face interactions, and a little encouraging smile can go a long way towards making candidates feel more at ease with the situation. Opening the conversation with an ice breaker question is also a good idea.
Remote hiring opens up vast opportunities for businesses to tap into a global talent pool and find the perfect candidate; however, recruiting new teammates all over the world could mean that the perfect candidate is situated in a different time zone. Conducting remote interviews with candidates who are based in a country that is just a few hours ahead or behind usually isn’t much of a problem. Interviewing someone from Australia when the business’s headquarters are based on the U.S. west coast, however, can be challenging.
Although the rule of not letting the interview continue for too long also applies in a remote setting, it’s common for job interviews to take longer than usual. It’s therefore important to not schedule interviews and other meetings back to back. Instead, there should always be a little extra time to deal with additional questions candidates might have. This avoids an abrupt end of the interview, which could leave a bad impression on the candidate.
Candidate feedback is a valuable source of input on how to improve the remote interview process. Asking candidates what worked well for them and what could be improved is a good way to get some feedback. If there are any obstacles in the process on the candidate’s side, they should be removed quickly – otherwise, high-quality candidates might be lost.
The remote job interview is an integral part of the remote hiring process. It’s only when the interview is followed by a seamless remote onboarding process that an organization will be able to create a smooth candidate experience from start to finish. And since the quality of the onboarding has a direct impact on employee retention and productivity—research by the Brandon Hall Group found that organizations with a flawless onboarding process could increase the retention rate of new hires by 82% and productivity by more than 70%—getting both the interview process and the onboarding right should be top priority.
The Lano Academy is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Lano Software GmbH disclaims any liability for any actions you take or refrain from taking based on the content contained in this article.
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