How to conduct remote interviews

Welcome to the new world of remote working.

The revolution of remote working is well and truly underway.
With this comes the next step in developing your business: Remote Interviews.

Every interview, remote or face-to-face, is never the most pleasant experience, whether you’re the interviewer or the interviewee. However, conducting remote interviews has become a necessity in a post-COVID world.

Like all new things, remote interviews can seem scary or stressful if you’ve never done them before. So, we wanted to share with you some of the best practices for when you ‘bite the bullet’ as it were, and conduct a remote interview.

Remote interviews vs face-to-face interviews

Though they might seem worlds apart, remote interviews aren’t that different from face-to-face interviews.
Rule of thumb on remote etiquette: if you wouldn’t do it in a face-to-face interview, DO NOT DO IT REMOTELY. This means eating, yawning, wiping your nose, appearing disinterested, etc.  

The Importance of Body Language during Remote Interviews

Though you are not face-to-face in the traditional sense, you are still able to observe the candidate’s body language and appearance. Though the interview is remote, make sure both you and the candidate have dressed appropriately (even if it is just on the top half!)

Do they maintain eye contact? Are they smiling? How do they present themselves? Do they have good client-facing skills? Did they turn up on time?

Undoubtedly, Video calls are more challenging than face-to-face contact. You don’t have the non-verbal cues like tone, the pitch of voice, and body language you would usually have when sitting 2ft away from someone. As important as the candidate’s body language is, make sure you speak clearly, smile, and laugh when appropriate. Take into consideration that the video might have a slight lag, so make sure you leave a few seconds so as not to speak over one another.

Show that you are actively listening

As tempting as it may seem to look at your own image, make sure you are looking at the camera rather than the screen. Try minimising yourself so the candidate has your undivided attention. Make sure you smile, nod your head in agreement, and occasionally use words of acknowledgment… ‘yes’, ‘okay’ etc.

Preparing your Technology

Picking the best system for success!

There are copious amounts of video conferencing systems out there so find the one that works best for you. If you’re struggling to choose, we recommend ‘Zoom’ or ‘Google Meet’. They are user friendly and as a bonus, link into most calendars (not to mention they are wallet-friendly too!)

But you may also have heard of…

Others you may come across:

We recommend conducting a technical trial run of your video conferencing platform. Make sure your computer camera, microphone, and internet connection work. Does this mean buying a webcam and a microphone? Either way, check before the interview, the last thing anyone wants is a technical glitch.

With this in mind, make sure you check your internet connection; don’t get disconnected during the interview.

Close your other web pages

The last thing anyone wants is an unprofessional email or Facebook notification distracting you from your train of thought.

Have a backup plan

It’s inevitable that something is going to go wrong. In which case, have a backup plan prepared. Make sure you have the candidate’s phone number close to hand and vice versa. That way, should anything go wrong, you can reschedule or call them for a telephone interview instead.

Set your background

Ensure that you have proper lighting and a professional background (unfortunately, this means no fancy Zoom filters). Too much ‘stuff’ behind you can be distracting; too dark and the candidate will have trouble reading facial expressions.

We have found that natural lighting works best. Don’t conduct the interview or phone call with noise in the background. Make sure you are in a well-lit, clutter-free room and there are no personal objects behind you (no one needs to be distracted by family photos or a messy workspace)

Don’t try to wing it…

Remote interviews require equally as much, if not more, preparation than face-to-face interviews. Don’t try to wing it. We recommend that you have the candidate’s CV to hand, and have prepared questions and an agenda in advance. Maybe you need a scorecard on a notebook or a separate screen/ tablet?

Set clear expectations

Unlike a face-to-face interview, candidates do not know what to expect when interviewing remotely. It is important to be transparent and set clear expectations:

  • Do you expect the camera on?
  • How many people are going to be present?
  • How formal is the interview?

Do everything you can to set the candidate up for success. Be clear when communicating with them what structure the interview will take. Include a start time, name of the interviewer and the general order of events. Don’t forget to provide the link and details for the remote program you are going to be using.

We advocate also sending the candidate any documents about your company and culture a few days in advance. Send them a link to any of your webpages or social media so they can get a feel for the company and adequately prepare. Ultimately, they won’t get to physically set foot in the office for a few months, so anything you can do to tell them more about your company is a bonus.

Have a strong close 

Like face-to-face interviews, make sure you have a strong close. Let the candidate know the next steps and when they can expect to hear from you. Ask if they have any questions and make sure to thank them for their time.

Remember, even when conducting remote interviews, you are representing your company; leave the candidate with a positive impression of you and your business.


One final step…

Remember: the remote process doesn’t end after the interview.

Once you’ve found that ‘perfect’ candidate the next step is to onboard them properly. It’s important to integrate new hires into your company, whether they’re working remotely or not. You want to make them feel comfortable within the company, despite being however many miles apart.

If you need help with this crucial step, our free Onboarding Checklist will help you get organised and get your new hire on board!

To find out more about DigitalGrads, and how we can help make graduate recruitment easier, click here.

Alternatively, for more employer advice browse our blog page for a compendium of advice for hiring Gen-Z employees.

About post author

As a recent graduate from the University of Reading. I am currently working with DigitalGrads as their content and marketing intern.
Posted in Your Hiring Bible