How to Conduct a Remote Interview – Best Practice Tips for Success

From industries adopting a more online-focused stance, to the growing prevalence of employees working from home, the way we do business in the modern …

Two women conducting a remote interview.

From industries adopting a more online-focused stance, to the growing prevalence of employees working from home, the way we do business in the modern era has forever changed. One aspect often overlooked amid the shift is how applicants are interviewed for positions. With the search for top tier talent going increasingly global, the traditional interview process has been forced to evolve. As remote interviews transition from temporary substitutes to the new standard, it’s essential to take steps to ensure they are run professionally. To help in the process, we’ve gathered 8 tips you should put into practice to successfully conduct a remote interview.

1. Invest in Quality Equipment

At the dawn of streaming video, poor picture and audio quality could be forgiven in light of the technological marvel playing out on our screens. This is no longer the case. In a remote interview, you are the face of your business. Would you want that face to be poorly lit, blurry, and have a voice like a restaurant drive-thru speaker?

If an applicant’s first impression of your company is that it’s lagging behind the times, it sets a negative tone for the entire interview. In the past decade, we’ve seen tremendous strides in the field of consumer grade audio-visual equipment. It’s now easier and more affordable than ever to capture great looking and sounding video. A high-definition webcam and USB microphone are effortless to set up and go a long way in presenting your business as modern and professional.

2. Practice and Prepare

Joining an online meeting may be as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, but that doesn’t mean you should leave their preparation to the last minute. With more than one party involved, it’s always best to iron out the essential details of a remote interview well in advance. Confirm which meeting platform will be used (Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc) and ask for confirmation that the applicant has received the meeting link and calendar invite.

In order to avoid technical issues, it’s best to sign into the meeting ahead of the scheduled start time. It’s unlikely, but if the meeting link has changed, you’ll need time to notify the interviewee. Before starting, check that your camera and microphone are working properly and that you are in a space with a reliable internet connection. Be sure to pay attention to the video quality as well. Something as simple as adjusting the curtains or turning on a lamp can go a long way to fix poor lighting and save you time during the actual interview.

3. Have a Backup Plan

As Murphy’s Law states, if something can go wrong, it will. This is perhaps most applicable in regards to technology. You’ve undoubtedly experienced your computer or phone failing on you at a critical moment before, and it’s a matter of when, not if it will happen again. Save yourself the stress and come prepared with a backup plan for your remote interview. Have the applicant’s phone number on hand, and let them know you may use it to connect with them in the event of technical difficulties. It may lack the personal touch of a digital face to face, but missing the meeting entirely makes for a far worse impression.

4. Break the Ice

Interviews are an uncomfortable process for most applicants. With the promise of a job on the line, nerves run high, especially if this is your first time meeting. Now add to this the disconnect of being in separate locations and the slew of potential software glitches that may occur, and you have the recipe for a truly awkward situation. If you want to get a real sense of your potential hire, take a few minutes to make a connection with them first.

If you’re conducting a series of remote interviews that day, it’s easy to overlook the importance of building rapport with each interviewee. However, the positive effect of opening the conversation with small talk can’t be overstated. Find something on their CV that you have in common or chat about their interests for a few minutes. By putting them at ease first, you’ll get a much clearer picture of who they are and how they’ll work with your team.

5. Designate a Panel Leader

A slight delay in audio can make even a one on one interview difficult. With the addition of even more people, it becomes downright chaotic. If you’re planning a remote interview with multiple interviewers, avoid confusion by designating a panel leader beforehand. This individual can control the flow of the conversation and help to prevent everyone from speaking at once.

6. Show Up on Time

There is a well-known tactic in the business world of keeping someone waiting as a power play. Quite frankly, it’s not only rude, but ineffective as well. This may not be your intention when running fifteen minutes behind schedule for your remote interview, but the thought will certainly cross your candidate’s mind. Intentional or not, you’ve set the tone that they are of little importance to you.

Under most circumstances, being a few minutes late is entirely forgivable. Beyond that, however, you should notify the applicant via phone or email and let them know when you will arrive. Staring at a blank computer screen does little compared to a physical office waiting room to assure them that you will eventually show up. To prevent this, book your remote interviews with at least 15 minutes between each. This will provide a buffer for questions that may run over and allow you time to prepare for the next call.

7. Make an Agenda and Stick With It

Following up on the point above, the most effective way to conclude your interviews by their scheduled time is to prepare and adhere to an agenda. Without a clear path for the conversation to follow, it’s all too easy to go off on a tangent. A well-thought-out agenda will also ensure that you touch upon all of your intended points. When interviewing dozens of potential candidates, the last thing you want is to finish a call and realize you missed some essential questions.

8. Ditch the Suit

There was a time when suits were considered necessary attire for a job interview. No self-respecting professional would have dreamed of meeting with a hiring manager while dressed in mere business casual clothes. That being said, they also never would have imagined the possibility of having a face to face conversation with someone across the world from the comfort of their own living room. Embrace the change and leave the suit in your closet when conducting remote interviews.  The person you’re interviewing may still wear one out of fear of breaking with conventions, but by choosing a more casual outfit, you’ll set a relaxed tone for the conversation and help to put them at ease.

Master the Remote Interview

They may not be the face to face meetings you’ve grown accustomed to, but remote interviews can be just as effective for getting to know a candidate. By utilizing the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to finding talented professionals from around the world. When you’re ready to start interviewing for a role, take a look at our recruiting services to see what we can do for you.

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