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3 Tips for Interviewing Remote Candidates

The Betts Team
March 25, 2020

Maybe your hiring is chugging along. Maybe you’ve had to pause it until further notice. Whatever the case, there’s a strong chance that the next interview you have with a candidate will take place remotely. There’s also a strong chance that the role you’re interviewing them for will, itself, be remote. 

It may be a while before we can all get back to the office. But many companies are realizing that distance doesn’t necessarily have to slow their operations all that much. If you’re one of these companies, you’ll have to take the right approach to doing remote interviews for remote roles. Here are our tips.

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1. Make yourself seen, not just heard

It can be tempting to think: “This person will be working remotely. I’m working remotely right now too. We may not meet in person for a long time, so why can’t we just have a phone call?” But if you care about bringing this person into your company culture and forming a strong working relationship with them, you’ll want to go with video. Letting your interviewee see you – see how you react to what they’re saying, get a sense of your mannerisms and body language – is essential for them as they decide if they feel comfortable with you. And this kind of comfort is, in turn, essential for building a healthy professional relationship.

For more tips on remote interviewing, as well as remote sourcing, onboarding, and managing, be sure to check out our new guide.

2. Ask the right questions

Put frankly: not everyone is cut out for remote work. Some people find it hard to thrive outside of a traditional office – even if they, themselves, don’t realize it until they try it. To find out if the candidate you’re interviewing has what it takes to crush it in a remote role, you’ve got to ask the right questions. Here are a few examples:

  • What kind of experience do you have working remotely? – Like most other skills, if they’ve done it before, they’ll likely be more successful. Try to get them to point to specific successes they’ve achieved while working remotely.
  • How do you address challenges with minimal supervision? – You can’t always be as attentive to a remote employee as you would to an onsite employee. It’s essential that they demonstrate the ability to find solutions on their own instead of being too dependent upon help from their manager.
  • What’s your preferred communication channel? – To ensure fluid communication in remote work situations, everyone involved has to be responsive to the max. Find out if your candidate is most responsive, via Slack, text, email, or some other channel.
  • 3. Keep your space, and self, presentable

    Remember that classic principle of the job interview: You’re not just interviewing them, they’re also interviewing you. It’s a cliche, yes, but cliches don’t become cliches unless there’s a core truth to them. Right now, it’s likely that you’ll be in full work-from-home mode when you interview your next candidate. But that’s no excuse to slack on your self presentation. Dress like you would on a workday. Make sure the entire area that will be picked up by your camera is tidy, and looks as much like an office space as possible. And make sure it’s quiet! Make sure roommates, kids, or anyone else you share your house with understand in advance that you’ll need the space to yourself starting a few minutes before the interview’s scheduled start.

    No one knows for sure what the workforce will look like this time next month or next year. But for now, it’s looking like a big shift to remote work has already begun. Are you ready to interview and hire in that environment?