Remote interviews save time. They’re easier to schedule than face-to-face meetings and avoid the need for office space. With remote working here to stay, employers need to up their game by conducting remote interviews that create a positive candidate experience and lead to better hiring outcomes.
What is remote interviewing?
A remote interview is a conversation between a hiring organization and a geographically distant job candidate. The candidate may be located in a different suburb, city, state, or country from the interviewers.
Remote interviews can happen via phone, or increasingly with video conferencing technology such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet. The interview may be one-to-one, or the job candidate may face an interview panel of several people. Interviews can be two-way (live) or one-way (pre-recorded answers to set questions).
Remote interviewing does not necessarily mean the job itself will be remote. Organizations may choose to conduct remote interviews for efficiency reasons, but the successful candidate will be expected to work onsite.
How to conduct a remote interview
To get the best hiring outcomes out of the remote interviewing process, follow these steps before, during, and after the interview.
Before the remote interview
Decide on the format
Live video calls are not the only way to conduct remote interviews. Pre-recorded videos (also known as one-way video interviews) involve the candidate creating an elevator-pitch video or answering a series of interview questions.
Aside from video interviews, you could choose to conduct a remote interview via phone, live chat (using a messenger platform such as WhatsApp), or via a chatbot. Even phone interviews can be automated.
Choose a suitable tool
Once you’ve decided on the format, it’s time to make sure you have the right tool for the job. Options range from dedicated hiring platforms with in-built features such as branding and interview scheduling to free video-conferencing solutions such as Zoom.
Ensure the right people are involved
Best-practice interviewing will involve a panel of two to five interviewees rather than a one-on-one approach. Involving more people helps increase accuracy and minimize bias. Your panel may include the hiring manager , someone they will work closely with, a subject-matter expert, and a HR representative.
Keep in mind that many panelists can be overwhelming for interviewees. The more people involved, the greater the likelihood of technical and logistical issues, such as people talking over one another.
Let the candidate know what to expect
Keep candidates well-informed with information on who they will meet in the remote interview, what platform will be used, how long the interview will take, and more. This will also help you show candidates that you (and your organisation) are highly organised.
Be respectful of the candidates time
If you need to reschedule, give as much notice as possible and avoid last-minute cancellations. You wouldn’t cancel a face-to-face interview while a candidate was sitting in your office waiting room, so don’t do so remotely, either.
During the remote interview
Don’t let the fact that you are conducting a remote interview be an excuse for a lapse in professionalism and presentation. This means dressing appropriately (from the waist up, anyway), joining the call on-time, and choosing a distraction-free, well-lit place to conduct the interview. Put your phone on silent and be present and focused at all times during the interview.
Test your equipment
Conduct a last-minute equipment test (mic, video, and internet connectivity) before the interview. Ensure you have a plan B, such as switching to a phone conference call if the video software fails to work. If you really can’t connect, email the candidate to reschedule.
After the remote interview
Let the candidate know when they will hear from you and what the next steps will be. Do not “ghost” candidates. Every candidate, whether successful or unsuccessful, deserves to be kept in the loop.
Ask for feedback
Some hiring platforms include a feedback feature that will invite candidates to fill out a quick, anonymous survey after the interview. Asking for feedback will help you discover and adjust any parts of the process that candidates find sub-par.
Questions to ask candidates in a remote interview
Being consistent will create a level playing field and minimize bias. This means asking every candidate the same questions, sticking to the script, and providing everyone with an equal opportunity to ask questions in return.
One of the best ways to optimize the limited time available is to conduct an online skills test beforehand. This will mean you are only interviewing top performers and will not need to waste precious time trying to discover if they have the skills necessary to do the job.
Instead, use the time to explore cultural fit, career goals and give the candidate plenty of time to ask questions in return. If the interview is for a remote role, consider asking questions that will help determine their remote working capabilities, such as how they manage their workload without direct supervision or how they collaborate with others remotely.
How to create a great remote interview experience
You know you’ve nailed your remote job interview process when even unsuccessful jobseekers say it was a great remote candidate experience. Follow these three tips to achieve this.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Never leave your candidates hanging. Keep them informed with notifications before and after the interview. If you’re interviewing at scale, it will become necessary to automate personalized candidate messaging.
Set candidates up for success
Put some effort into helping candidates prepare for the remote hiring process. This could involve sending them presentation tips for the interview, resources such as one-way video interview preparation, and “Plan B” instructions in case the software lets you down.
Use the opportunity to sell your brand
It is much more difficult for candidates to get a sense of your employer brand, culture, and values when interviewing remotely. Ensure you make time in the interview to talk about these.
Vervoe’s AI-powered remote interview software makes it simple to hire top-performing, remote team members while creating a great candidate experience.