Conducting remote interviews: 6 best practices

The pandemic ushered us all into the world of remote work, but we still need to interview and hire new employees. Use these best practices to conduct remote interviews that serve you and the candidate well
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Even as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc with the global economy, segments like collaboration tech and telehealth are seeing a boom, for obvious reasons. In fact, many businesses are even scaling and onboarding new employees during this time – remotely, of course.

But just like remote work, remote hiring is new to many of us on both sides of the interview process. Here are a few tips and best practices to help set you up for hiring success as you adapt to our new normal:

How to conduct remote interviews: Best practices

1. Test candidates’ skills remotely before interviewing them

Especially for roles like programming that receive a lot of applicants, use a skills assessment tool first – this will allow you to weed out candidates who don’t meet your team’s requirements, keeping the volume of applicants manageable and the quality high as you move to the next round.

[ Read also: Virtual onboarding: How to welcome new hires while fully remote. ]

2. Test the right things

It is on you to make the best use of your online time with candidates. Since you won’t have the luxury of having an in-person conversation, develop a clear idea of what you’re looking to test in each conversation. Focus on real-world skills that will be needed on the job and ensure that candidates are prepared for each conversation appropriately.

3. Over-communicate

While remote interviewing, you won’t have the opportunity to create an in-person connection. To ensure that the candidate experience doesn’t suffer, over-communicate by sending updates at every stage of the evaluation process. This will make them feel valued and appreciated and will ensure a good impression of your employer brand, no matter the hiring outcome.

4. Be transparent from the start

Make sure your updates reflect transparency throughout the hiring experience. Remote interviewing is uncharted territory for many candidates, and you can help put them at ease by telling them how the interview process will happen: how many rounds of interviews they will face; what technologies will be used; and what will be evaluated in each conversation or skills test.

Remember: It is in your best interest to set every candidate up for success, whether they are remote or not.

It is in your best interest to set every candidate up for success, whether they are remote or not.

5. Eliminate distractions

This one applies to any interview situation, but it’s worth repeating for those who might be doing remote interviews for the first time: Make sure you are able to give the candidate your undivided attention. Tell your family or roommates that you need a quiet environment for the length of the interview, and silence notifications from apps like Slack and Gmail so they don’t distract you during the conversation. Also, check that your Internet connection is stable, so you don’t get disconnected during the interview.

6. Introduce candidates to the company virtually

One of the great advantages of in-person interviewing is that you can share first-hand the company’s culture and employees. To replicate this virtually, create a branded content package that candidates can review at their leisure to get a feel for the company’s culture and values. This package might include the following:

  • Articles such as major company announcements or meaningful press coverage
  • Employee profiles, especially ones that highlight members of your team
  • A list of the hiring manager’s team expectations
  • Videos, photos, or quotes of employees from recent talent branding campaigns

My team was already on its way to making remote business the norm, but COVID-19 has accelerated that path – including remote hiring. Putting people back to work is an essential part of restoring order to our economy, and we must all be prepared to spot the talent we need from afar.

[ Are you leading culture change? Get the free eBook, Organize for Innovation. ]

Vivek Ravisankar is the CEO and co-founder of HackerRank, a company that is on a mission to accelerate the world’s innovation by helping companies of all sizes hire technical talent based on skills, not geography or pedigree.