Remote interviewing makes sense. Your candidates can be set up in the comfort of their own home or tucked away in a meeting room rather than having to rush across town and arriving flustered and overwhelmed. This will give you access to the very best of each candidate and not exclude those where an in-person interview may not fit into their schedule. But how do you as the interviewer get the best out of yourself and provide a great experience for the candidate?
1. Don’t try to wing it
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of zoom meeting after zoom meeting. Then one overruns and all hell breaks loose (or you just turn up to your interview unprepared). Part of your prep for the day should be interview prep, I’d even say get this done the night before if you can. Have all of the questions ready, notes on the profile, experience etc of each candidate and be strict with your diary. If a meeting is looking like it’s going to overrun, let the team know you have an interview to attend in advance.
2. Check your tech
How many times have you tried to join a meeting and the link is wrong… or there are two links… or even worse, no link at all. Check your calendar and launch the meeting and also check your WiFi before the interview. There is no worse start to an interview for both you and the candidate than a dodgy link or an awkward ‘can you hear me’ exchange for 5 minutes.
3. Have a backup plan
What if, despite all your preparations, the platform you planned to use doesn’t work? Make sure you have the candidate’s email and phone number handy so you can easily connect. You might end up having a phone conversation instead of a video interview in this case.
Another common issue, especially if you or the candidate are working from home, is bandwidth. If more than one person is online in an apartment or house at the same time, it can cause delays or other issues with video conferencing tools. While not ideal, one way you can try to address this issue if it happens is to turn off the video function on the application you’re using during the interview. You’ll still be able to talk to each other on whatever platform you’re using, just without the visuals. You also might try to schedule the interview at a time when fewer people in your home are online.
4. Minimize distractions
Office - Make sure the meeting room booked out so that you don’t get any unwelcome visitors or worse you have to move mid-interview. Sit with a plain wall behind you rather than a glass wall to a walkway with constant traffic and distractions.
Home - Let your dog, cat, pets out before you start your meeting. Arrange deliveries outside of this time (or stick a note on your door). Have a plain background. Close windows if you’re on a noisy road and make sure your washing machine isn’t about to start its spin-cycle.
Always - Turn ALL notifications off. Even if you think the candidate can’t see you glance across at your slack, they will see you! This creates a terrible impression of you and the company, so to avoid this, just turn everything off and put your phone on silent far, far away from you.
5. Body language and tone of voice are important
Candidates notice eye movement and body language more than during an in-person interview so position the candidate’s window as close to the camera as possible to mimic real-life eye contact. And as tempting as it is try to not look at your own image maybe just change the speaker view to hide.
Try to sit still and avoid fidgeting or messing around with things on your desk as the noise and movement can be very distracting.
6. Have a strong close
Avoid just ending the interview abruptly. We would usually be able to walk someone out of the room or building so try to have that same wind-down time at the end of the interview. Any final questions, discuss the next steps and make sure the candidate leaves feeling positive about you and more importantly the company that you are representing.