Remote recruiting makes everyone a little nervous, at least at first. Conducting interviews by video conference just doesn’t sound appealing—can you really read someone’s body language on video? What if the internet connection is bad? All these obstacles and more might make you long for the days when in-person interviews were the norm. But don’t give up on remote recruiting. Here’s how to make it better.
The Benefit of Virtual Interviews
Remote recruiting has advantages. It’s cost-effective, saves time and broadens your pool of candidates to include people who live out of state or even out of the country. If you commit to remote hiring, there’s no reason for it to be any less effective than in-person interviews.
Before the Remote Interview
A lot of important work goes on before the interview stage. Recruiting teams can cut down on the number of interviews by effectively filtering candidates. An online interview process gives you many options to narrow your candidate pool to only those who definitely have what it takes to make it in your organization. This can involve simple education and experience filters but also skills tests and written questions. However, it’s best to avoid any phone screening stage. Video conferencing is a far more valuable use of both candidate and hiring managers’ time. Instead, tighten your qualification settings and give the best applicants more time to impress at the virtual interview stage.
How to Conduct a Successful Virtual Interview
Zoom might be the fastest-adopted technology of all time, so most of your recruiters and candidates are going to be more or less comfortable with using video in the workplace. Here are some reminders to make the process go smoothly.
- Choose Your Technology Wisely
- Test the Tech (and Have a Backup Plan)
- Beware of a Bad Connection
- Be Professional
- Don’t Change Too Much
- Make Sure Interviewees are Comfortable
- Write Down Feedback
- Nail Your Transitions
- Don’t Ignore the Small Stuff
The first step is to pick the right platform. Zoom might be the go-to for most meetings, but interviews for more technical roles may require platforms that more easily allow candidates to show their skillsets. That said, avoid technical difficulties at all costs. Go with the software you and your team feel most comfortable with.
If you’re new to virtual recruiting, go through a trial run of the whole process. (And don’t just presume everything will go to plan—think about what you’ll do if your internet is having an off day). Even if you know the platform inside out, you should still test it on the day and send clear instructions to interviewees on what they have to do. Give candidates a phone number to call if things don’t go as planned.
Not everyone has a superfast internet connection. Give candidates time to finish speaking before moving on to the next question. Expect some lag in video chats and you’ll avoid those awkward interruptions that can slow the momentum of a good conversation.
When working from home it can be all too easy to lounge around in your PJs or use a funny Zoom background to hide the mess in your spare room. However, in an interview you are representing your company so now is the time to appear as serious as you would expect the candidate to be. Likewise, remember to minimize distractions—that means turning off your email notification sounds.
Adapt to the new format; don’t start from scratch. Some interviewing methods will transfer better than others, but you should still go with tried and method methods and structures rather than winging it.
One thing that might need to change is how you start an interview. You may have to work a little harder to find some rapport. Don’t forget eye contact and body language, but a small icebreaker may be the best way to make sure candidates are relaxed with the online setting. Remember that candidates may have different levels of experience with video conferencing—unless it’s required for their future role, don’t hold this inexperience against them.
Even if you have a successful interview with flowing conversation the nature of virtual meetings is that they tend to be more forgettable. So it’s more important than ever to write about any feedback immediately in order not to mix up different applicants, who may blur in your memory into just different faces on a screen. Keep the feedback objective by using an interview scorecard.
If you’re hosting a multi-stage interview, the online setting makes things a little trickier. One idea is to have a dedicated “host” who coordinates between various interviewers. If a candidate has to switch platforms or join a new meeting, make sure you (over-)communicate this clearly. Unlike in-person, they can’t come back into the room and ask for where to go.
Recruiting is about way more than interviews. It’s also about selling the company, and seeing how an applicant fits in with an organization and team rather than simply their role. However, you can still replicate much of this online. Try hosting company tours and team lunches digitally. Potential colleagues can send videos or have private Zoom calls with the applicant. Finally, if you would normally gift an applicant some company swag, offer to send something by post.
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