remote job interviews

Due to the pandemic, many hiring managers and executives find themselves conducting remote job interviews for the first time.

This may feel like yet another difficult change you’re forced to make this year. But once you get the hang of it, you realize that a streamlined remote hiring system opens up a lot of possibilities for your business.

When you can successfully conduct remote job interviews, you can broaden your candidate pool. Zoom interviews allow you to connect with applicants on the other side of the world. It can also make the process easier for candidates with disabilities.

Possibilities aside, many HR managers and company leaders cringe at the thought of remote hiring.

As we all know by now, video conferencing is not the same as an in-person meeting. Body language is harder to read on Zoom. Tech glitches and roaming toddlers threaten to derail important conversations. And true eye contact is impossible.

So how do you make sure your remote job interviews are as informative as “the real thing?” Follow these seven simple tips and we can assure you, you’ll have the hang of this in no time.

#1: Prepare the Technology You Need for Remote Job Interviews

Make sure you are technologically prepared for your remote job interviews.

If you are leading a remote team, you have probably already set up your preferred video chat application. If you haven’t, do so well before the meeting. Run a few test video calls with a coworker.

Make sure you are comfortable with all the following actions before you start scheduling remote job interviews:

  • Creating a “room” for the video call, sending an invitation, or creating a link
  • Joining a pre-scheduled video call
  • Turning your camera on and off
  • Turning your audio on and off
  • Sharing your screen
  • Changing your background (if needed)
  • Ending or leaving the meeting

Some of these items may seem like things you can figure out in the moment. But this is less about being capable of handling these functions and more about freeing up mental space. The unknowns distract us, even when the unknowns are not particularly intimidating.

The goal is to conduct interviews without having to think about your technology at all. Inviting a candidate to a call and setting up your headphones should be as easy and automatic as closing the conference room door and shaking their hand.

#2: Make it Easy for the Candidate to Come Prepared

Just as you would for in-person interviews, give your prospective employee a chance to put their best foot forward.

Let them know what technology you’ll be using days in advance so they have the opportunity to prepare. Inform them if they’ll have to download an application or sign up for an account in order to participate.

Interviews are already nerve-wracking, and many people are twice as self-conscious on video. So the more you can avoid throwing curve-balls at an anxious applicant, the better. Give them a heads-up about any aspects of the interview they might not be expecting. For example:

  • Will additional team members be joining you on this call?
  • Will you need the candidate to demonstrate any skills or share their screen for any reason during the interview?
  • What are you hoping to learn about them from this interview?
  • What should they be prepared to discuss?

If you and the applicant are in different time zones, be sure to specify time zone when scheduling the meeting.

It’s always a good idea to set expectations in advance of any job interview. But it’s especially important for remote job interviews. Have a little mercy and make it as easy as possible for your applicant to show their best side. You’ll both benefit.

#3: Decide How You’re Going to Handle Tech Glitches

Be prepared with a backup plan for technical failures. If the video call freezes, what will you do? Continue with a phone call? Reschedule the interview? One great option is to try turning off video and continue with audio only.

In addition to having a practical backup plan, also be ready to handle glitches with a bright attitude. Your candidate may have a rough internet connection for several reasons, including:

  • They live in an area with poor internet service.
  • They have three children all currently in Zoom classes, overwhelming the bandwidth of their home network.
  • They can’t afford a high speed connection right now.

Whatever the reason, the candidate will likely feel flustered and worry that you see this as a red flag. Instead of letting them go through the frantic dance of trying to fix the unfixable, take charge and warmly offer an alternative.

#4: Remember to Communicate with Your Face

Even the friendliest team leader can come off cold in a Zoom call. There are several reasons for this. You can only offer partial body language. You can’t truly make eye contact. And you’re probably at least a little self-conscious because you can see yourself.

Do the best you can to communicate warmth and interest through facial expressions and attention. Smile often. Nod to indicate that you’re listening and interested. When you speak, speak to the camera and not to their face. This at least creates the illusion of eye contact.

You might even consider putting a small Post-It over your own image. That makes it easier to focus on the candidate and not on that one strange gesture you keep making.

#5: Structure Your Remote Job Interviews

If you don’t already have an outline established for your interviews, create one now. When it comes to remote job interviews, it simply isn’t enough to just know what questions you want to ask. That’s because remote job interviews are far less predictable than face-to-face interviews.

Ideally, both you and the applicant have both done everything possible to set up a distraction free environment. But even with the best-laid plans, video freezes. Sirens blare outside an open window. A cat emerges from its hiding place and sniffs the camera.

When you have a structure in place, you’re able to recover and get back on track quickly. There is also less chance you’ll forget to ask an important question because you lost your train of thought.

#6: Look at the Big Picture

Even when you do all you can to make remote job interviews comfortable for your candidates, you will still have prospective hires who just cannot be themselves on video.

If a strong presence on Zoom is among your must-have qualifications, you can let an awkward video interview be a dealbreaker. Otherwise, examine everything, including the resume, samples, and references.

If you loved a candidate on paper but worried that they seemed “off” in the interview, dig deeper with their references. Don’t be afraid to ask outright about the behavior that concerned you. “Ben seemed to have trouble sticking with a train of thought. Has this been your experience, or do you think he may have been uncomfortable with Zoom?”

You might also consider a social media screening service. This can help fill in some blanks if you don’t feel like the interview gave you a clear sense of whether the candidate is a good fit for your company culture..

#7: Make the Next Steps Clear and Easy

Finally, make sure your candidate knows what to expect next. When will you get back to them? Will they need to complete further vetting? Do you need any additional information from them?

Make the next steps as easy as possible. You may be the one with a job to offer, but qualified candidates are building an opinion about you, too. If you want to lock down great talent, speed and simplicity are key.

Pre-employment screening can be a major drag for the hiring process. Often, it’s because much of the burden lands on the candidate. They have to print, fill out, scan, and send paperwork . . . often more paperwork than should be necessary.

A mobile background screening software like Swifthire offers a much better candidate experience. Your applicant receives a prompt on their mobile device. They answer only the compliance questions that apply to them and then approve the screening.

That’s it. It’s a contact-free process that can be initiated within seconds. You can learn more about Swifthire here.

Remote job interviews may feel like a brand new science at first, but the basic rules are the same as in-person interviews. In short, a little preparation goes a long way toward making a stressful process more relaxing and informative for both parties.

If there is anything we at PeopleG2 can do to help you navigate the changing landscape of modern hiring, let us know. We’re here for you.

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