6 tips on how to conduct an effective remote interview

Since the beginning of the pandemic, remote interviews are becoming the way to reach and evaluate candidates as social distancing is required.  In fact, a Gartner study indicates that 86% of all companies have switched to remote hiring since COVID-19.

While remote interviewing has similarities to the regular face-to-face interview, there are plenty of differences and challenges that could cause you trouble as a recruiter if you do not follow a particular preparation. Indeed, making a conversation and following up on the application can be carried over quite naturally over; your recruitment skills need to be trained to evaluate candidates fairly and adequately without the physical cues that a real-time interview presents.

Because of the mentioned above, here are 6 tips on how to conduct a good remote interview from the preparation to the actual interview:

Summary (TL;DR)
Remote recruiting is a more prevalent way to hire since the pandemic outbreak. To overcome challenges associated with remote interviewing, as a recruiter, there are a couple of tips you can do. Firstly, rethink your interview process, prepare well in advance as well as shortly before the interview. Also, strategize and carefully think which tools you are using for the remote interviewing, and remember to communicate naturally during the interview. Lastly, remember to introduce your organizational culture as well for the candidates.

01  Rethink your interview process

As Covid-19 reshaped how many businesses perform and remote recruiting became a more standard approach to interviewing, did you review and rethink your current interview process? As a recruiter, questions worthwhile considering are:

For instance, if your interview process is unstructured, the questions above are especially applicable to your situation because an unstructured interview can discriminate against candidates.

Happy employees working on their computers

02  Prepare in advance

As a good recruiter prepares in advance for a face-to-face interview, so should you in the case of a remote one. If you want to heighten your chances of conducting a successful interview, it is even more essential to prepare everything in advance for an interview done remotely. Because there is a technological component involved, do a technology test on the platform and double-check if the candidate has access to that platform. Also, have an alternative plan in case the selected technology for plan A crashes – whether that would be a bad internet connection on either side or some other technical problem. A potential solution to this issue would be to ask in advance for the candidate’s phone number and call them if you need to switch platforms. Or simply have a system in place for possible rescheduling of the interview. 

A few more check points before the start of the interview are:

  • Have the candidate’s resume in front of you, review it beforehand and make a list of questions where you would need further clarifications on during the interview
  • Share your list of interview questions with the rest of the hiring team who will be present at that remote interview
  • If more people from the hiring team will be present at the interview, make sure to communicate with them who they are about to interview, for which job position and what would be the crucial talking points
  • Inform candidates about what is next after the interview, at what point they should expect an answer if there will be any further discussions etc.

03  Ensure you give a professional impression

There are a couple of more things to prepare before the interview if you want to make sure that you give a professional impression. As the scheduled interview approaches shortly, 10 to 30 minutes before the interview starts, check if your webcam and microphone are working properly.

Other activities to do are:

  • Turn your phone on silent
  • Turn off notifications on both your phone and computer
  • Close or possibly lock the door to your room
  • Remove any clutter in your background and aim to have it businesslike, with no distractions
  • Position yourself according to the lightning of the room – do not have the light to be at your back, as candidates cannot see you
  • Dress the part
Businessman and businesswoman discussing work at office desk nea

04  Use the right tools

Before conducting the interview, it is crucial for you to clarify what are your interview needs. Would you need extra functionalities such as whiteboarding or added evaluation forms? Or would you need to record your interview? Analyze your needs and decide on a tool based on those. Also, remote interviewing could be a simple phone call, a one-way video interview, or a live video interview. Have you considered which one to go with and which combination to make? Depending on your time and resources, you might prefer one over another. Still, we recommend that you choose to meet the candidate live over a video interview as a dedicated recruiter. That is because, in this way, you could get more behavioral cues about the candidate and get a more accurate picture of how they are and how they would fit into your team.

A note to consider as well is making sure that the virtual interview software that you use also integrates to your ATS.


05  Communicate during the interview

When the interview starts, do not jump straight to the job-related questions. A remote interview already has the disadvantage of not being as personable, so make sure to include some natural components of a face-to-face interview. Just as in a regular job interview, do small talk first and at the end of the interview. This is how you get to soften the edges of the conversation.

During the interview, aim to be expressive. It is more challenging to pick up on body cues via video interview, however, make sure to demonstrate to the candidate that you are attentive. That could be by looking directly at the camera, so they know that you are focusing on them, sit straight as that gives subconscious cues that you are listening. Also, when talking, as sometimes the connection gets delayed, make sure to provide small pauses before answering or taking the turn in talking.

Lastly, avoid typing your notes as the candidate speaks. Instead, try to write them down on paper or if you opt for writing on the computer, try to minimize the typing noise.

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Taking notes - office

06 Introduce your organizational culture

While you, the recruiter and the hiring team are the ones who evaluate the candidates, remember that the interview process is a two-way exchange and communication. It is not only about finding talent for an open position in your company but also the talent choosing your business over another place. In fact, in a previous blog, we mentioned that the hiring trends are shifting, and companies are becoming more employee-centric.

On top of that, studies confirm that candidates care more and more about a company’s culture – they often research businesses before they apply or accept a potential job offer.

In a remote interview setting, the interviewees do not get to see the office or directly meet the team and, in this way, get a sense of the company’s culture. This is why you should introduce alternative ways to let candidates know about the organizational culture. This could be done by briefing them about your company, your values, and the organizational culture.

It is essential, however, to go beyond simply stating “these are our values”. Exemplify the company’s values by telling candidates about your and your team’s expectations of employee behavior, what etiquette your company follows, telling them stories of best practice examples, and so forth. By doing so, you not only build a picture of the company but you also improve the candidate experience, and this attracts talent.

See how you can hire more objectively with Whaii Match

Attracting talent at your doorstep is only half way of the recruitment journey. For the selection phase, there are tools out there that help you set aside your subjective gut feelings and review applications “blindly” – with no candidate demographics to impact your hiring decision. Only the skills, personality, values and culture that matches to your company’s unique preferences.