Interviewing candidates for distributed teams comes with its own challenges and priorities. Here is our quick guide to getting the most out of your virtual interviews, and refining your processes to attract top talent, including:
- 3 top tips for conducting a remote interview
- 5 key questions to include in your interview scripts
Are remote interviews all that different?
The main purpose of any interview is to figure out whether the candidate is right for the role. That doesn’t change when the interview is virtual.
But remote interviewing is different in some significant ways, and this requires some adjustments to your usual process. This is an opportunity for you to build your image as a remote company, and attract the talent you need to power global expansion.
Tips for conducting productive virtual interviews
The way you interview candidates as a remote company will play a vital role in building your reputation as a competitive employer. Here are some best practices for smooth, effective remote interviews.
Testing, testing: do a thorough tech check before the interview
Most candidates will spend time preparing for the interview, making sure their microphone, camera and internet connection are all up to the task. If a company fails to do the same, and they experience tech issues on the call, this will create a strong negative first impression that is hard to overcome.
If you need to introduce team members to the call, make sure that you have the right permissions set in order to make this as seamless as possible. Remember, the interview is a showcase of your remote company and its culture. Mastering tech is a crucial part of that. Take the opportunity to inspire confidence in your ability to run a global company.
Soundcheck tip: Whichever platform you choose, it’s worth having a dry run to check that it all runs smoothly. Let the candidate know which platform you’ll be using, along with any relevant codes or passwords. Be prepared for connectivity issues, on your side or theirs, by outlining a backup plan.
If video becomes too choppy, switch to audio only, or even have a phone call option that you can roll out on short notice. If something does go wrong, and you are able to handle the situation, this will create a lasting impression on the interviewee.
Bonus tech tip: On a related note, interviewing remotely saves time. You don’t have to wait for candidates to arrive, and there will generally be less of the small talk that usually brackets an in-person interview. So it can be tempting to schedule a sequence of back-to-back interviews.
Our advice: don’t do it. Give your team enough time between interviews, just as you would if the interviews were conducted in person. If the process is rushed or haphazard, your team won’t be able to give each interview the careful consideration it deserves.
Break the ice: how to deal with that unmistakable online awkwardness
Video conferencing is now part of daily life for untold numbers of people around the world. Thanks to video conferencing tech, we enjoy instantaneous, global connectivity. But for all its merits, communicating through screens has certain drawbacks.
Many people find it more difficult to read non verbal cues when they’re not interacting in person. Eye contact can also feel more intense and focused. Lags in video and audio can also contribute to anxiety and self consciousness.
Anxiety-busting tip: Begin the interview by acknowledging the awkwardness and suggesting some ways to deal with lags in connectivity. Reassure the candidate that they can stop you and ask you to repeat or clarify a question at any time. You’ll start the process in the right way, and the candidate will appreciate your sincerity.
The virtual office tour: showcase your remote company culture
Company culture matters to applicants. Unprecedented talent mobility gives you access to a larger talent pool, but it also increases the intensity of competition to become the employer of choice.
The key to winning is embracing the paradigm shift from talent acquisition to talent attraction. Candidates want to know that your company is a great place to work. They need to understand how you’re handling the challenges of remote work, communication and payments.
If you can show them that they’ll be more than just a number on a project management system, they’ll be more likely to want to stick around.
Company culture tip: As far as possible, be transparent about your company processes, and even the tech stack. Do you use tracking software to monitor work, or do you take a more hands-off approach? How do you facilitate employee engagement and team bonding?
Are communication channels clear and transparent? Include this discussion in the interview, and allow the candidates to ask questions about it.
Questions to ask in a remote interview
One of the biggest differences between remote and in-person interviews is the type of questions you need to ask. In addition to the usual questions about the candidates themselves, their skills and their expectations, it’s important to understand their reasons for wanting a remote job, and their ability to manage remote work life.
Here are some key questions you’ll want to include in your interviews:
Where do you prefer to work?
This question is a great opportunity to assess the candidate’s attitude towards remote work, and their readiness to take on the role.
If they have invested in a home office, that’s a good sign, but you shouldn’t disqualify those who have not. In a distributed team, there will be team members who work best in an office, and others who really do perform at their best on the couch.
Either way, you’ll want to hear about how they handle distractions, which time of the day is their most productive, and what their internet connectivity is like. This will give you crucial insights into what they’ll be like as an employee, and what you will need to provide in order to enable them fully.
Have you worked remotely before?
Someone who is new to remote work will need more support, particularly through virtual onboarding. While it’s not a deal-breaker, it’s important for recruiters to understand how much guidance they will need to give the candidate post-hire.
If the candidate is a seasoned digital nomad, they may have insights and perspectives of their own that can generate fruitful discussion.
Did you experience any challenges? How did you deal with them?
Reassure candidates that this is a conversation first and foremost and that there isn’t a right or wrong answer for questions like this. What we said earlier about anxiety is relevant here: you’re more likely to get authentic answers to this type of question if you start the interview in a relaxed and open way.
You’ll want to get a feel for how the candidate solves problems and deals with a lack of instantaneous resolution. A strong answer is one that displays both honesty and problem-solving initiative.
If you have worked remotely before, how do you unplug from work?
It’s vital that remote workers are able to disconnect from work. Overworked, “always-on” employees are prone to burnout. That’s bad for them, and it’s also bad for the company because productivity and goodwill take a nosedive when employees feel besieged by their work.
Listen carefully to the answer you get to this question – you may even learn something valuable. If the candidate doesn’t have any ideas of their own, this is an opportunity for you to showcase elements of your company culture that enable rest and recuperation.
How comfortable are you with tech?
This one is critical because you’ll need your remote staff to be able to help themselves, to some extent. If they are unable to resolve routine hardware and software issues on their own, they might overload your support channels, reducing productivity and increasing the workload for other staff.
Ideally, you want resourceful, independent people who are competent in the type of tech that your company uses. At the very least, they should express a willingness to learn or seek out help on their end.
Hire your A–team, then push play: Employer of Record solutions for distributed teams
Recruiting and interviewing are the first step in creating winning global teams. But what comes afterwards is the heavy lifting. Onboarding, compliance and payroll are complex even when your people are within the same postcode.
Remote work adds a layer of complexity that most companies are not ready to absorb. With Playroll, they don’t have to, Schedule a demo to find out how Playroll’s Employer of Record services are smoothing the way for quick, frictionless global hiring.