With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing people to work from home, including those responsible for recruitment, traditional in-office face-to-face interviews are now often replaced by video. But don’t let your guard down. The war for talent is still raging, and you can gain an edge with great remote interviewing.
Even now, the challenges haven’t changed: You’ve whittled down your pile of CVs and now you have a shortlist of the strongest candidates lined up to virtually meet you.
How do you convince them your organization is where they should be working and stop them being snapped up by the competition when you don’t even get the chance to meet them properly and win them over with your people skills?
Interviewing remotely might seem impersonal and prone to pitfalls but, although you can’t control your candidate’s environment, you can control your own and make remote interviewing work for you to make sure you win the war for top talent.
Look professional …
Before the interview commences, ensure you’re familiar with the technology and tools you’ll be using and, if your home wi-fi is prone to being patchy, consider hooking up an ethernet cable for the duration of the interview. You don’t want your candidate thinking your technology comes from the 90s and you’re working on steam-driven dial-up computers and modems.
If you come across as scattered and disorganized, your candidate will think the same applies to the organization, so start the interview on time and don’t keep your candidate waiting. Conduct the interview from a quiet place in your home, with preferably a blank/white background with no personal effects on show. You may be proud of your family but this isn’t the time to be showing off your baby photos on the shelf or wall behind you in the living room. If you want to get really high-tech and on-brand, set up a green screen and display the corporate logo and/or photo of the premises.
Speaking of children, make sure your family know you’re conducting an interview and shouldn’t be disturbed. This interview with Professor Robert Kelly on the BBC may have gone viral, but your candidate might not find such an interruption so endearing.
If your office has a dress-down culture, there’s no need to wear a suit for the interview. Be sure to let your candidates know the dress code in the office and for the interview too – you don’t want them to feel self-conscious if they turn up suited and booted, while you’re sitting on the other side of the screen in a t-shirt and jeans.
… but personable
You can look professional and personable at the same time. Body language, facial expressions and hand gestures are difficult to gauge over a screen and they need to be emphasized if you don’t want to come across looking po-faced, cold and unfriendly. Think like an actor: smile wider and more often, use more facial expressions and hand gestures. Just don’t overdo it and scare your candidate off by looking like a maniac.
Speak clearly and calmly while smiling and laughing. Engage with the candidate, don’t speak over them and leave longer gaps than you usually would to give them time to speak and ask questions. Brush up on your listening skills and don’t just listen to them – make sure you look like you’re listening to what they have to say.
Resist the urge to look at your image on the screen – turn it off if possible – and look at the camera to simulate making eye contact with your candidate. Turn off anything else that will distract you such as app notification pings and pop-ups.
Begin the interview by outlining what the interview will entail and engage in a little small talk while they get comfortable with the technology and feel a little less nervous as they relax into the interview.
Showcase your culture
Just because your candidate isn’t physically in the office to be shown around, this doesn’t mean you can’t show their potential workplace off to them. Share your screen with them and show them a virtual tour of the office so they can see if it looks like the type of place they’d like to work in. Show them where they’d be working, any areas of interest and you can even have some of their potential teammates giving video testimonials about what it’s like to work there. You can also show them a recruitment video outlining any benefits on offer.
Stay in touch
Without the personal touch of a face-to-face meeting, memories can quickly fade. Keep at the forefront of candidates’ minds by sending a personal follow-up video message thanking them for their time and letting them know the next steps with regard to further interviews and a timescale for the final decision.
Once you’ve made your decision on who you’d like to offer the job – offer it immediately. Don’t hang around while the competition jumps in and snaps them up.
All in all, you want to give your candidate a thorough understanding of the company culture and what it’s like to work for your organization, even if they haven’t had the chance to see it yet. Interviewing remotely brings unique challenges to recruiting but these challenges can be made to work to your advantage.