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5 Tips for Interviewing Candidates Remotely

5 Tips for Interviewing Candidates Remotely

Even before the pandemic, hiring the right person wasn’t an easy task. You had to hone your criteria, cast your net, filter through the options and then meticulously interview candidates face-to-face.

The process is almost entirely the same now, with the one key difference: you have to do it all remotely. Interviewing candidates over Zoom is not ideal. It can be hard to get a feel for someone when their video keeps freezing, their audio cuts out, or they are so dimly lit you can barely make out whether they’re wearing a t-shirt or a tie.

Yet, this is the way it needs to be done for now. To make the most of an imperfect situation, here are five tips for remotely interviewing candidates.

Establish a Structure in Advance

Resist the urge to wing it. Video conferencing can already be hectic as people inadvertently talk over one another, long silences pass as both parties figure out who should speak next, and technical glitches can add to the confusion.

Do your part to mitigate the confusion by drafting a highly structured routine for your interviews. When you book the interview, be as clear and detailed about how the meeting will take place: which app you will use, who calls whom, instructions for joining the meeting and what the candidate can expect in the interview. The more you plan in advance, the smoother the interview will go.

Find a Dedicated, Quiet Space

The last thing you want in the middle of an interview is to be interrupted by the sound of a neighbor’s weed-whacker or your kid drawing on the walls.

Find a dedicated, quiet and isolated part of your home (or office) to conduct the interview. Instruct the candidate to do the same when you book the interview. Removing external distractions allows you both to focus on what’s important: whether this professional relationship is worth pursuing.

Make Use of a Headhunter

It’s challenging to get a sense of someone’s cultural fit when you can’t meet them in person. To give yourself the added assurance that you’re interviewing the right people, partner with a headhunter.

For instance, if you’re looking for a star sales rep to join your team, a headhunter can match you with sales candidates that have relevant experience and fit your company. Just be sure to find a trustworthy recruitment agency like SalesForce Search that has access to an extensive network of candidates and can do the heavy lifting of filtering for your specific criteria.

Evaluate Everything

Psychologists estimate that about 93% of communication is non-verbal. Someone’s body language, micro-expressions, tone and demeanor may tell you one thing, while their words tell you another. It can be challenging getting a sense of a candidate’s non-verbal cues over video conferencing, but try your best to look past the words.

Take note of how they’re dressed for the interview, whether they bothered to tidy up for the occasion, and if they appear to have a dedicated workspace of their own. This last point is especially important if you are hiring for remote work, since you want to make sure they can be trusted to maintain a suitable setup.

Have a Backup Plan in the Event of Glitches

Glitches happen, but they shouldn’t derail your efforts entirely. Consider including a backup means of communication.

If the problem is with the platform, you can simply suggest switching to a different video conferencing platform. If the issue is broader (let’s say one of you loses WIFI connection), suggest another means of communication, like a telephone call.

No, interviewing remotely is not the best way to interview, but following these few straightforward tips, you can make the best of it. Keep it structured, choose a quiet place, hire a sales recruitment agency, pay attention to non-verbal cues and have a backup plan. If all goes well, you should be able to make a remote hire that has a lasting, positive impact on your business.


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by Lottie Pritchard // Lottie Pritchard is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.