Five tips for conducting a remote interview

HRD sat down with Katie Birch, director of sales at Indeed Singapore, who gave some seasoned hiring advice

Five tips for conducting a remote interview

With remote working being the norm in these times, remote interviews are becoming more and more popular with HR professionals.

Realistically, tools such as automated processes and video-based platforms have existed ‘in the time before’, but as all things, our circumstances have accelerated its use – and recruiters have had to adapt quickly.

Read more: How COVID-19 is accelerating hiring automation

HRD spoke to an APAC leader and hiring manager with years of experience recruiting and managing both local and remote teams to get some tips.

How to assess candidate’s fit for job and company
Let’s address the most obvious issue around remote interviews – you won’t be able to meet the candidate in person.

Meeting someone in person is very different from meeting them online and through a camera lens. This could make it tricky when assessing their culture fit in the organisation or the team.

Despite this, Katie Birch, director of sales at Indeed Singapore told HRD that there is an upside to our virtual environment.

“Companies must remember that interviews provide insights about candidates that resumes do not,” Birch said. “So, take advantage of the rare opportunity to interview candidates in a relaxing, familiar environment, allowing them to really express themselves.

“Ask interesting questions and look for cues such as body language and facial expressions.”

In other words, this may be a good opportunity to simply let the conversation flow and learn more about the person at the other end of the computer.

Read more: Revealed: The most popular job searches during lockdown

Assessing for job fit may be a little easier, Birch shared from experience. In her years of leading diverse teams, she prides herself on recruiting talent with the right skills and who are adept at empowering fellow team members to become high achievers.

She suggested that leaders simply prep ahead. This will also ensure a fair and effective interview process.

“Having a list of job-related selection criteria that is applied consistently for all candidates will amplify a fair hiring environment and understanding of the job requirements,” she said.

“Prepare interview questions that are directly related to the selection criteria, and make a fair assessment based on the candidate’s skills, knowledge and characteristics required for the role.”

And just as it’s been a learning curve for recruiters, she reminded leaders to treat candidates with the same understanding and kindness.

“It is key to avoid forming stereotypes and jumping to conclusions,” she said. “Understand that not all applicants are technologically-savvy or own the latest laptops equipped with reliable webcams.

“Acknowledge that video interviews can be stressful for some candidates and communicate the processes clearly beforehand to avoid any confusion.”

Read more: Revealed: Top HR biases that derail job interviews

Top five tips for conducting remote interviews
With virtual interviews becoming a mainstay in our ‘new normal’, Birch advised leaders to get used to phone and video processes. She shared five tips and factors for leaders to consider and ensure a successful session:

  1. Test your technology beforehand

The basic tools required for virtual interviews include a working camera and microphone on your computer, a software platform, and a reliable internet connection. As the host of the interview, make sure that you are familiar with the tools, and test the setup to ensure that things like headphones and lighting are working properly.

  1. Communicate the processes clearly

Ensure candidates are aware of the company’s remote hiring policies and procedures. Set clear expectations in a detailed document that clearly states the dos and don’ts of the recruitment process. Provide specific instructions on downloading the video interviewing tool, attendees of the interview, and necessary contact details.

  1. Prepare your questions

Non-verbal cues in face-to-face communication can be difficult to pick up on video interviews, so recruiters need to get creative with the questions to really engage and ‘open up’ the interviewee. Strategically ask questions that will not only help identify pertinent information such as skills, attitude, and culture fit, but also soft skills such as sense of humour, values and style of communication.

  1. Be authentic

Video calls can be a daunting experience, but there are ways to put candidates at ease. Make the interview experience as human and personal as possible so they are able to comfortably express themselves and compensate for the distance.

  1. Limit distractions

Environment is key. Identify an ideal place in your home that is quiet with few distractions. A room that is clean and professional looking will ensure that the focus will be on you, and not what is around you.

Katie Birch is director of sales at Indeed Singapore. Previous to Indeed, Birch worked as head of commercial at Snakk Media, as well as streaming service Guvera and Big Mobile.

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