Why your remote interview process matters
Your remote interview process is the first opportunity you’ll get to introduce new people to your company culture. And you can be sure that candidates will treat the interview as a window into your remote culture. Providing a smooth candidate experience is key to attracting the best talent – and it also goes a long way to building a competitive employer brand.
1: Establish some remote interview etiquette internally
Remote interviews have their own unwritten rules: small details that people rely on to form their impressions.
Consider every detail in your environment: is the space quiet and uncluttered? Are you likely to be interrupted by other people? Have you considered the lighting? Poorly organized spaces and backlit silhouettes give the impression that remote interviewing is just an add-on to your usual processes.
Curate your space: professional but welcoming
Turn your desk to face a natural source of light, like an open window. Front lighting makes it easier for the interviewee to see you clearly. Also, consider the way you dress. This can be a subtle clue to your company culture.
2: Get your tech setup ready, and train everyone on how to use it
There’s no shortage of video conferencing platforms on the market. But whichever one you choose, ensure that everyone involved in the process knows how to use it and resolve issues that may come up. Inform interviewees well in advance, too, so that they know which platform you’ll be using and can plan accordingly. This is just good manners, and it shows forethought.
Be sure to have a dry run, to double check that all of your tech is working: videoconferencing, audio, note taking, or any other tools that you use. This can help you to avoid problems in the interview. Fumbling around with tech that you should know inside out is a bad look.
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst (it happens)
Connectivity issues can interrupt remote interviews. But a good remote interview process should be able to handle unforeseen issues. Always have a backup option (such as a phone call), or a procedure for rescheduling if connectivity deteriorates. This doesn’t just save face – it boosts candidates’ confidence in your company.
3: Address the awkward elephant in the room
An interview is a conversation, so it relies on turn-taking. That’s easy to manage in person, but the normal non-verbal cues that take place when you’re face to face don’t translate well online. For example, it’s not always obvious when the other person has finished speaking, and when you should begin. Awkward silences followed by everyone talking at once can be frustrating for everyone involved. You can diffuse this tension by reassuring candidates that they can interrupt and ask you to repeat something if necessary.
Our awkwardness-busting advice:
You can also let candidates know that you (and they) should leave a small pause after each question or answer, just to ensure that you don’t end up talking over each other.
It may also be worth standing during the interview, and inviting candidates to stand, too. This can free up your posture and breathing, and make it easier for both of you to use gestures.
4: Schedule interviews with enough time in between
At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to schedule interviews one after the other. After all, it just takes a click to begin, and you want to get through all your candidates to find your next hire.
But this is a mistake. Just like an on-site interview, every remote interview requires preparation before it begins, and a thorough review after it ends. You need time to gather your thoughts, finalize notes and get ready for the next one. Without regular breaks, interviewers will tire out and may even lose focus. Interviewees will pick up on that – and they will not appreciate it.
Best practice for remote interview scheduling
Allow for at least 20 minutes between interviews. Use that time to check your environment and your tech, go over notes and familiarize yourself with the next interviewee before they arrive.
5: Ask the right questions
When interviewing for remote roles, it makes sense to ask about a candidate’s experiences and preferences working in a distributed team. Here are some examples of questions you can use to help you understand how the candidate will fit in to your remote working culture:
- Have you worked remotely before? If so, what went well and what could have gone better? If not, what do you foresee as the biggest challenges you might face in this role?
For seasoned remote workers, it’s important to figure out the strengths and weaknesses they bring to a team. Asking them to give you the good and the bad is an effective way to get that understanding. Ideally, you want realistic, honest answers that demonstrate some self awareness. For newcomers, it’s worth knowing whether they have realistic expectations about what remote work life is like.
- How would you rate your tech skills?
This question can help you to identify knowledge gaps, and determine the amount of training you will need to provide once you hire the candidate. It can also reveal a candidate’s openness to learning, and their capacity for self reflection.
- How do you maintain focus on your work when you’re working from home or a remote office?
Tracking productivity in a remote setting is notoriously difficult. An ideal candidate is a person who requires minimal tracking and micromanagement. A well thought out answer to this question indicates professionalism and initiative.
Set the tone by being transparent
Most of these questions don’t have a “correct” answer. Let candidates know that before they answer, so they don’t feel pressured to say the “right” thing. That way, you’re more likely to get authentic answers that reflect each candidate’s actual personality and opinions.
6: Standardize your process and subject it to quality control
Standardization is key to building an effective pipeline from your careers page right through to onboarding. And as the volume of applicants increases, it makes practical sense to streamline the way you process them through the interview stage.
Begin by standardizing your questions, to draw up an interview script. This can include branches for follow-up questions. You can then categorize the data that your interviews generate. Along with the script, equip interviewers with a way to rate each candidate according to relevant metrics. That makes it easier to track candidate performance, and it makes the process more transparent for other stakeholders.
The role of candidate feedback
Finally, consider asking candidates for feedback after the interview. This can yield a wealth of data that you can use to refine the process over time. Being open to candidate feedback also goes a long way to improving overall candidate experience, and improving your reputation as an employer in the market.
7: Take the opportunity to showcase your company culture
Understandably, candidates want to know that your company culture is open and positive. By the time they reach the interview, many of them will have searched through ratings and comments to get an idea of what it’s like to work at your company.
Address this curiosity by letting them know what life is like for other remote workers. If you’re dealing with a strong candidate, it’s very likely that they will ask. Be ready to answer pointed questions about how work is structured, how teams collaborate, and specific internal policies. Be honest about areas you’re working on, and if possible, talk about how you’re improving these areas to create an even better employee experience.
Find your people, then let Playroll handle the rest
Interview over, and you’re ready to hire. Now it’s time to onboard and set your people up for success. And this is where things get complicated. Hiring across borders comes with layers of red tape and compliance legwork that put a damper on your global expansion plans. With Playroll, you can skip past all of that. We take care of onboarding, labor law compliance and global payroll, so you can focus on what matters: finding the talent you need to build your business.
Book a demo with our team to learn more. We’re ready to help your business explore the opportunities that global talent mobility presents, while steering clear of the pitfalls.