Interviewing is a skill like any other. It’s one thing to pen a set of questions, but quite another to use those as a basis for a successful and informative conversation, especially when you’re not in the same room as the candidate. It’s well worth running through a mock interview with an existing employee to see how well the questions flow, if the order works and to adjust as is best.
Additionally, if you’re using tech during the interview, such as a Zoom, video web chat program or screen-sharing software, do at least one dry run before the actual interview to make sure you know exactly how it all works and that you are comfortable with the setup so you can concentrate on what the candidate is saying, rather than on technical issues.
And, if you’re going down the video web chat route, but are personally not that experienced at being on the small screen, then log some time in front of your webcam to get comfortable.
2. Be Clear About Objectives
There may be many stages to your remote interview process — an initial, more informal chat to arrange a more formal, longer phone interview, a video interview, and maybe even a demonstration or skills-based session.
It’s only fair to let your interviewee know exactly what to expect. This includes giving an estimate of how long you’d expect the session to last, what they should have on hand, any previous work examples to provide to you in advance, who will be on the call and what you’re hoping to get out of that stage of the interview.
And, always allow time at the end of every stage for the interviewee to ask you questions. What they ask (and how) can be as telling as some of their responses to your queries.
3. Keep Things Professional
Do treat a telephone interview like any other face-to-face interview. It is tempting to treat a telephone interview more casually, but set clear objectives and stick to them.
Don’t forget that your candidate is also interviewing you and assessing your company’s prospects. Keeping the interview process as professional as possible — despite the fact you may both be taking part from your sofa — is important.
It might sound obvious, but for a web chat interview ensure your cell phone is turned off, your laptop won’t start bleeping calendar reminders, no-one is going to burst in on you chatting, etc. Your candidate should likewise ensure the same, making for a calm and uninterrupted session.
4. Anticipate Awkward Silences
You might be lucky and just click with your interviewee, but chances are, even if they are a suitable candidate for the job, there will be the odd moment where you talk over each other, don’t catch what the person said, misconstrue meaning, etc. In these situations you need to try and smooth things along as best you can.
Do try to build rapport, but don’t force it. Without being able to see the candidate’s non-verbal response, you might find there are some awkward silences and interruptions, but persevere without being domineering.
If you give your candidate every chance to do well, you will get a better sense of their suitability for the role. Everyone gets nervous and flustered about an interview, the skill is not to get them to break down — but to rise up and show you their potential.
What other tips do you have for remotely interviewing candidates? Let us know in the comments.