The Best Way to Conduct Remote Interviews

remote interviews

By Yvonne Milosevic

The interwebs are awash in remote interview advice targeting job seekers. Yet hiring managers also need to make sure they’re putting their best foot forward. You may consider yourself a virtual veteran, but not everyone knows the best practices for conducting remote interviews. In truth, the pandemic foisted this technology on us out of necessity. Nonetheless, industry insiders believe video interviewing is the future of recruitment. Adopting these four manager-centric interview tips will make you look like a pro.

Set up your candidates for success.

At the outset, interviewers should email candidates with clear instructions to help them prepare. Include a timeline that lays out the interview schedule, names, and titles of each person they will meet. Don’t forget to share links to relevant LinkedIn profiles if appropriate. Also, provide a telephone number they can use to reach you in case things get glitchy. 

Finally, consider sending all candidates the same virtual background to create a level playing field and avoid what’s known as background bias. That way, someone interviewing from their kitchen or bedroom doesn’t get unfairly compared to the candidate with the stylish home office digs.

Highlight your company’s culture.

Top performers think a lot about company culture before accepting an offer. “Today’s job hunters aren’t just looking to boost their salaries,” writes executive coach Rae Ringel in Harvard Business Review. “They’re also seeking flexibility, well-being, and a workplace culture that aligns with their own values and sensibilities.”

Are there specific company events, fundraisers, or team-building workshops that show off your company culture? Make sure to mention those. Also, a LinkedIn survey revealed that an office visit is job seekers’ favorite way to learn about a potential employer. Offer a virtual tour of the office (prerecorded is fine) that introduces a few relevant team members.

Company culture is vital when it comes to hiring and retaining good employees. Make sure candidates walk away with a clear understanding of yours.

Focus on emotional intelligence. 

Executive coach Ringel thinks managers need to move away from basing hiring decisions only on skills and intelligence. “Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is often more critical to success in the workplace,” she explains.

EQ determines a person’s ability to relate to others, roll with the punches, navigate difficult situations with grace, and “read the room.” —Rae Ringel

“When conducting a virtual interview, it can be tempting to give up on the EQ aspect since it seems like a quality that’s best assessed in person. But this can lead to poor decision making,” Ringel warns. Check out her current favorite interview questions that provide insight about a job candidate’s EQ:

  • What was the greatest challenge you faced during Covid, and how did you overcome it?
  • Tell me about a workplace conflict you dealt with, either with your peers or someone else in the company. How did you manage that conflict, and were you able to resolve it?
  • Tell me about a time when you received feedback on your performance and you disagreed with the feedback. How did you handle the situation?
  • If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would be its top three values?

Standardize the interview process for both in-person and remote interviews. 

As we’ve noted before, hiring bias is a pervasive problem in many companies. Whether an interview is in-person or virtual, asking the same questions of all applicants is both fair and a more effective way of judging a candidate’s qualifications.

Take notes during the interview or record the conversation—with the applicant’s okay, of course. You can then rank how each person answered and refer to those objective assessments when making your final hiring decision. Likewise, consider asking colleagues from different departments to provide their unbiased feedback on the candidates.

Remote interviews are here to stay, and just “winging it” is not an acceptable strategy anymore. Structured interview questions, detailed process instructions, and a culture-promoting pitch will ensure a smooth hiring process for candidates and companies.