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Conducting a Remote Interview - 7 Tips for Employers

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. The circuit breaker in Singapore and lockdown in many countries have changed the way of work for all of us. Several organisations were caught like a deer in headlights – confused, and not having much idea on how to manage the changes that followed.

There are several clients I have been speaking with recently who are adjusting to the new norm of conducting remote job interviews.

Being able to assess an individual’s capability for a role that he/she will be performing for at least 24 – 60 months, within 60 minutes is no easy feat. To add another variable, not being able to physically see this candidate makes the hiring manager’s assessment a lot more challenging.

This is no handbook, but a guide of best practices I have gathered from candidates and clients, around how to ace conducting a remote interview.

Before the Interview:

1. Prepare the technology

It is imperative to ensure that you are fully prepared for the interview. Technical glitches are common and can occur as there may be one hiring manager involved in the interview. It is best to test the software you are using, including microphone and speaker volumes. This will also create a good first impression with the candidate. Getting the contact details from the candidate and using WhatsApp video call as back-up is also an option.

2. Outline the hiring process

Providing a well-written job description, together with the expectations of the role will be helpful to the candidate. This way he/she would also be able to share specific examples of their previous experiences that may be aligned to the expectations of the role.

Unlike regular times, where the candidate will be able to follow a defined introduction and onboarding, in the current environment there is a possibility he/she may have to begin working remotely. Hence, having a list of questions prepared would be advisable. What would you rank as the top 3 necessary skills to be productive whilst working remotely? An example of a question could be: “How do you prioritise tasks on a daily basis?”

During the Interview:

3. Ease the candidate into the conversation

Unlike a regular face to face interview, there is a lack of non-verbal cues. A firm handshake is a sign of self-confidence and trust, but this cannot take place virtually. Just a simple conversation about the day so far, or your struggles on working from home, instead of jumping straight into the interview, will help calm the candidate and he/she will be at a more relaxed state to begin the interview.

4. Engage multiple interviewers

For senior or more critical roles, and to cut back on several threads of communication, it may be worth having a few key interviewers on the first virtual interview. You can assign roles to each for seamless feedback after the interview.

5. Give the candidate an assignment

Apart from regular situational behavioural questioning, if you are likely to proceed the candidate to the next round, this would be a good opportunity to test them on deeper skills. By giving candidates a project or assessment to work on, you'll be able to better evaluate what it would be like to work with them. You'll see how they problem-solve, work with deadlines, and get an idea of what their communication style is like. During the interview, you could walk them through the assignment, and its objectives.


6. Gather feedback from interviewers

There are certain software, that can generate a transcript of the video interview conducted. You could share this with other stakeholders that are involved in decision making, and it may be helpful to get a second opinion.

7. Ensure open communication with the candidate

Lastly, communicate via the recruiter, internal talent acquisition or directly to the candidate on the feedback and expectation on timelines. This would not only help candidates manage their expectations, it would also portray an excellent brand image for your firm.

Hope these tips come in handy for your next remote interview. I am sure there are several other methods to ensure a seamless remote interview and we would love to hear any experiences you have had or tips you’d like to share by getting in touch with us!

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