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Advice on Conducting Remote Interviews

Remote interviewing

Headphones

Our team of experts from Resourcing Solutions has put together a comprehensive list of tips and advice to help you conduct remote interviews. From technology tips to advice on both pre and post-interview preparation, we've got the key to the perfect remote interview.

You should consider the following to be able to recruit successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technology

It is strongly recommended that you use Skype, Microsoft Teams, Zoom or something similar to carry out remote interviews.

These are secure platforms that allow for both audio and visual communication alongside multi-user dial in to enable panel members to take part.

It is recommended to use video functionality on these platforms; this is important so that you can build a rapport with your candidate, which helps with your decision making further down the line.

Preparation

Send full details of the interview to the candidate, well ahead of time.

This should cover some important information, such as:

Interview specifics

  • The date / time / end of the interview.
  • Any presentation / scenario provided and the job description.
  • Interviewer name and other panel members (if applicable).
  • Advise the candidate to treat it like a normal interview, i.e. smart dress code.
  • Supply contact information so they can reach you if needed.
  • Ensure they will be online and away from any interruptions (as far as possible).

You should also put your candidate at ease. We know that everyone is juggling complex situations at the moment, including child care, isolation, remote working and many other things. Some tips are:

  • We understand entirely if a connection drops out. Don’t worry, just calmly re-connect and if this continues to fail telephone we can easily rearrange a session if required.
  • Don’t worry if a small child or family pet invites themselves into the interview, calmly deal with the interruption and carry on with the interview.
  • If you don’t hear a question or the odd word, which can happen due to a connection delay, please ask for the question to be repeated.
  • These can and may happen with the panel, it is part of life right now!
  • Remember to plan to build rapport with your candidate, they are deciding if they want to work for you too!

Interviewing requires real concentration and active listening as they are quite intense. Ensure that your timetable and the number of questions are realistic (as a guide plan for four to five minutes per interview question). You should also plan in short and regular breaks. These can be used as a buffer if there is a delay or overrun and a much needed comfort break!

Six interviews per day is probably comfortable for most.

Skype / Microsoft Teams / Zoom interviews

  • Once interviews times are confirmed with candidates you will send them and any of your panel members a meeting request from your account and recommend that your candidates download and test that the platform being used works on their system in advance of the interview.
  • It is good practice to offer your candidate a trial run prior to the interview day, to ensure that candidates feel supported and confident to use the technical platform, perhaps a team colleague could do this as an opportunity to have an informal chat with a team colleague as a positive welcome to the team too.

Other items to consider

  • You will call them and also return call if there is a drop in connection or any other technical issues.
  • Have a back-up plan such as calling their mobile / land line should technical issues continue (have alternative numbers ready).

Your own setup

Prior to any interview, make sure you are able to test everything is working from your side.

You could do this with a colleague or friend shortly before, but remember not to adjust your setup in any way after the test. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Check the position of your webcam, including height and distance. Do not have this too high, or low - or too close, too far away.
  • Test the microphone and speaker volume is suitable.
  • Check for any lag / delay - poor picture quality (if this happens regularly, you may want to consider turning off any other device that is connected to your wi-fi, such as other mobile phones, other laptops, apps etc.)
  • Ensure the setup looks professional from the candidate perspective.
  • Make sure the room will be free from interruptions and put your mobile on 'do not disturb' or 'airplane mode' for the duration of each interview.
  • Are your interview questions written, printed or online? Consider how you are going to retain eye contact and engagement with your candidate alongside making notes and reading interview questions.

Be sure to give the candidate your full attention; ensuring they are comfortable and building rapport. Interviewing, evening remotely, is still a two-way process and the candidate will be observing and judging you as much as you are with them.

Conducting the interview

This will not be too different to a regular interview, so try to keep structure throughout and if possible, have a copy of their application to hand, or ensure you re-read it before the call.

You may want to write down, or highlight any additional comments / question that you may have, such as gaps in employment, qualifying references, reasons for leaving / moving and motivations etc.

You will have your list of questions ready, ensure these can be accommodated in the time given. We have seen that remote interviews tend to move a little quicker, so if it finishes early than planned, try not to be too concerned.

It may help to have your questions written or printed if possible. This will stop you having to split your screen, therefore minimising your view of the candidate. Where possible, please avoid taking notes via your laptop as you are interviewing. Also, try to avoid writing lots of notes on paper. This is take your eye contact away from the candidate and not give a good impression. You are recommended to make notes, but balance this with eye contact and candidate rapport.

To start, simply introduce yourself, briefly discuss the role and allow them the opportunity to talk through their application for a few minutes. This will help make the candidate feel more comfortable, engaged and ready to perform to their best. Make sure that you advise each candidate it is okay for them to ask to repeat any question, due to mute / un-mute or technical glitches / audio issues.

Throughout the interview make sure you are paying full attention to how the candidate is presenting themselves and how well they communicate. Try not to be distracted by the fact this is a remote interview, retain eye contact.

Tips

  1. Wait a few additional seconds for a response before speaking as this accommodates the time the interviewee needs to think of a response and compensates for any lag time or delays in the signal.
  2. Remember if you do mute your microphone when not speaking, be very mindful that this needs to go back on once you start again.

Allow the candidate to ask any questions at the end of the interview, and advise of next steps.

Post interview

Once the interview has finished and whilst fresh in your mind, you can make an informed decision based on their answers. You can then score and decide if you would be happy to appoint, or follow up with second interview.