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How to Have Effective Remote Interviews

May 18, 2020

By: Kim Busse

As more and more organizations shift to using a remote workforce, the traditional in-person interview is also shifting into a virtual context. Remote interviews may not seem like they’re all that different from a physical interview, but they introduce a number of factors that can make them more difficult to manage if a company doesn’t put a lot of thought into how to implement them. 

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that are easy to put in place and will make remote interviews more likely to select the ideal candidate.

5 Strategies for Conducting Successful Remote Interviews

1. Use Pre-Employment Assessments

One valuable step to include in any remote interview process is leveraging tools that can narrow down the candidate pool to qualified and suitable applicants. Pre-employment assessments are incredibly useful in this regard because they can help organizations screen out candidates who lack the competencies necessary for the position. Cognitive testing measures a candidate’s ability to think abstractly, comprehend new ideas, and solve problems, which is often critical to success in any new position. Behavioral assessments allow interviewers to determine which candidates are likely to be a good long-term fit for an organization. These assessments measure a candidate’s core traits and intrinsic motivators. Hiring managers gain valuable insight not only into fit for the job, but also on how to effectively manage and motivate each employee once they are on board.

The results of these tests can be used together as part of the initial decision-making process. For example, if someone possesses all the hard skills necessary for success in the role, but exhibits behavior that suggests they will quickly be looking for another job, it might make sense to prioritize other candidates. These assessments are easy to implement remotely and can be used as a screening tool to determine who moves on to more time-intensive interviews.

2. Select the Right Communication Tools

When an organization makes a commitment to remote interviews, it needs to make sure it has the infrastructure in place to support that process. There are many video conferencing platforms available to choose from, but it’s a good idea for the company to choose one and stick with it. This helps to avoid any implementation problems and ensures that everyone involved in the interview process knows how to use the technology.

Some organizations may be able to get by with a phone call or straightforward video conferencing software, but some positions may require additional features. For example, a candidate for a programming job may need access to developmental tools to complete a sample project as part of the interview process. It’s important to understand what tools will be needed ahead of time so that the interview process can be designed around the organization’s technology.

3. Communicate Details to the Candidate

Going through the interview process is stressful, but the stress can be even greater when the applicant is required to use unfamiliar or complicated technology.Organizations need to be clear when providing interview details. If the applicant has to download a special application to conduct the interview or needs to be in a specific location (such as a quiet room rather than a bustling cafe), that information needs to be communicated early and clearly in the interview process.

If assessments need to be completed prior to a live remote interview, the interviewer must provide reasonable deadlines to ensure that testing is completed in time for them to evaluate the results. They should also provide a resource list if video conferencing software is unfamiliar or complicated to launch. For example, many companies are using Zoom which is simple to set up and use, while Skype is robust but requires all users to have an account and software downloaded. This ensures that any potential problems are sorted out before the interview itself begins and avoids losing precious time to troubleshooting technical issues. 

4. Involve the Right People

Having more people involved in the hiring process generally leads to better outcomes. According to a study by the UK-based Behavioural Insights Team, having more than one person involved in evaluating a candidate is far more likely to result in a good hire. In cases where applicants are very similarly qualified and have few “easy” differentiators, just involving two people in the interview process increases the likelihood of making the best choice by almost ten percent, and having four people involved improves the odds by almost twenty percent. 

That’s because having different perspectives involved can reduce the chance of bias and raise concerns that a single person might overlook. The challenge when it comes to remote interviews, however, is determining when having more people involved will make communication difficult. Hosting a video conferencing meeting with a large group increases the likelihood of interruptions and can make it difficult for the candidate to know who to focus on. When possible, the remote interview process should only involve the core team that will play a role in making the final decision. Having an agenda and communicating who speaks when is also helpful. 

5. Use a Structured Approach

The same soft skills required in in-person interviews are necessary in remote interviews. It’s important to have a system in place to give the interview structure. That could include assigning specific questions to different interviewers or implementing a system for recognizing people who want to speak (such as a raised hand icon). The person leading the interview needs to have a very organized approach to ensure the conversation runs smoothly.

As with a live interview, it’s imperative to plan. Rather than relying on off-the-cuff Q&A, a structured interview focuses on specific areas and ensures that the interviewer gets the information they need from the candidate. 90% of all questions asked during an interview should be related to the position or the company. Having behavioral assessment data can be especially helpful in pre-planning because the interviewer can ask questions that allow them to better evaluate the candidate’s cultural fit within the organization.

Conduct Better Remote Interviews with Omnia Assessments

In addition to distilling the pool of applicants to the most qualified and best fit before the interview, assessment data is incredibly helpful for guiding the interview process. It saves time and resources but cutting out unnecessary questions and identifying the top candidates. Whether it’s measuring an applicant’s overall mental aptitude with cognitive testing or getting a better picture of their personality with behavioral testing, Omnia assessments can help organizations improve their interview techniques and make better overall hiring decisions.

To learn more about how to incorporate our scientifically validated assessments into your remote interviews, contact our team today.

Kim Busse

Key Relationship Manager at The Omnia Group, an employee assessment and management consulting firm. Kim partners with her clients to select top talent, manage more effectively and build high-performance teams using behavioral assessment tools/concepts. Kim combines over 25 years of real-world experience in human resource management and business development with her degree in organizational leadership to provide guidance and training on leadership development, conflict resolution, and employee engagement. She is a sought-after speaker in a wide range of industries, including insurance, financial services, automotive, staffing, and healthcare. For more information, email info@omniagroup.com or call 800.525.7117.

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