From the first phone screen to the last in-person interview, recruiters know what to expect when it comes to engaging with top talent (as well as the when, where and how). With that familiar foundation to build upon, the only piece left is optimisation. However, Covid-19 has presented challenges to this hiring process, with all-remote interviews becoming the new normal.
It might be tempting to take what’s familiar and apply it directly to a virtual environment. For example, taking any meeting or interview and using video conferencing instead. While this sounds great in theory, the trouble is that many recruiters are running into specific challenges with this 1:1 scenario. There are nuances with this medium that don’t exist when people are in the same room.
Here are three remote interviewing challenges to help you navigate an all-remote interview process.
1. Having Technical Difficulties in Interviews
When interviews are all-remote, it’s important to ensure a smooth process, whether it’s on the side of the candidate or your own. The best way to avoid technical difficulties is to do a bit more pre-planning than you would for an in-person interview.
Before you send out your first calendar invitation, determine whether the interview will be a video or a phone call. Though it might seem counterintuitive, not every interview needs to be a video chat. Allowing yourself and your candidate to connect across different mediums will help you diversify your understanding of their fit for the role.
If you do decide on a video interview, will you be leveraging screen sharing or sending a pre-read to the candidate? Be sure to have all your materials ready to go ahead of time to avoid any last-minute scrambling. If both you feel more prepared and confident, chances are that energy will put your interviewee at ease, too.
Next, it’s always a good idea to prepare your candidates on what to expect. Let them know what types of tools you’ll be using and on which platforms so they can download what they need in advance of speaking with you. If you’re conducting a video interview, ask if the candidate has any materials they’d like to present or share live.
Touching base ahead of time via email will ensure you and your candidate are that much more comfortable when the interview begins so you can have a productive and engaging conversation while reducing the risk of technical issues.
2. Company Culture Challenges
It’s true that an all-remote interview process doesn’t offer the same ease when it comes to expressing your company’s culture to an interested candidate. A lot can be said when walking through the doors of an office: seeing the location of the building, the way the space is configured, what’s offered in the break room and how the conference rooms and desks are arranged can communicate a lot about your company culture.
Without that in-person element, though, it’s important to think outside the (office) box. What helps express company culture beyond physical office space? Everything from the communication tools you use (Slack or email? Zoom or Google Hangouts?) to the ways in which you provide an inclusive environment for remote workers (opportunities for employees to connect and bond virtually outside of work hours or over lunch) speaks volumes to someone considering joining your company. In that sense, company culture can be shown as your company’s ability to adapt and embrace change, while finding creative ways to provide human connection and inclusivity.
In order to make remote candidates feel more comfortable in your company, you should consider communicating each stage of the employee lifecycle during the interview process: what happens before they begin working for you, during their new hire onboarding and once they’ve become a regular contributing member of your team.
3. Scheduling Conflicts with Candidates
There’s no doubt about it: the working world is in flux and so are everyone’s schedules. While at first we might have considered less time commuting to equal more free time, many of us have found the opposite to be true.
If your scheduling conflicts are due to a surge in job applicants, focus on getting your candidate pipeline organised and prioritised first. Pull back on sending individual emails when you could be bundling and sending batches instead, and leverage data reports to determine if you’re attracting candidates who are the right fit for the roles you’re trying to fill.
Next, are there video interviews that you’re conducting live that you could make asynchronous (aka, the candidate pre-records their interview based on a set of pre-selected questions and sends the video back to you for review at a later time)? Making that change can help you free up your schedule along with the candidate’s, and some are sure to be grateful for the additional prep time.
Finally, use empathy when approaching the interview process remotely. From kids at home to health concerns, many people are adapting and changing the ways in which we typically schedule our day. It’s important to be more flexible and roll with scheduling issues as they arise (within reason). With this heightened level of flexibility, both recruiters, hiring managers and candidates will all get through these changes to our normal routine.