Remote interviews is certainly a tricky way to recruit especially if you are an SME and need to ensure the candidate is going to fit into the team. According to many hiring managers this process means SME owners will be less emotional and more objective, allowing them to find the right individual for the job.
Many SMEs in the UK have adapted to operating remotely since March and as a result, it is likely remote working practices, including hiring remotely, will be a key element of ‘the new normal’. However, remote hiring is a completely new format of hiring employees for some businesses, so in order to reap the benefits it boasts, it is critical hiring managers take a number of effective steps prior to and during a remote interview.
Patrick Tame, CEO of Beringer Tame, explains: “It is much harder to build rapport over a virtual platform. You can't read body language in the same way or pick up on the little nuances that a face-to-face meeting gives you, so it's important to develop some kind of chemistry with the candidate prior to the interview.
“Taking the time to call a candidate in advance of an interview is an effective way of developing chemistry and helping them feel at ease. The candidate will be off-guard with their barriers down, so they'll be more open to an informal chat over being in interview mode. Hiring managers should also have a few informal questions at the ready as this can be another way of building rapport at the start of an interview.”
Patrick continues, “A candidate who is relaxed and as comfortable as they can be in an interview situation will ultimately put their best self across. Therefore, an effective way of settling a candidate is to send clear and concise instructions on how the interview will be conducted a number of days before the interview, allowing them to feel at ease. It is also very important to set expectations at the start of the interview by explaining how the time will be managed, as well as how and when to ask questions.
“Organisation and preparation for a remote interview must also encompass technical checks. If sound and video quality are poor this can really affect the dynamic of the conversation, so I advise agreeing upfront that if technical issues do occur throughout, the interview will be stopped and rescheduled.
“It’s important you are subject to as few distractions as possible when interviewing virtually so that you are able to really engage with the candidate. This will not only help the hiring manager make informed decisions, but by giving the candidate their full attention will also help them feel more at ease. It may seem obvious, but I always advise minimising your own image, the temptation to look at yourself when you can see your own image back can be incredibly distracting and can pull your attention away from the candidate. Minimising both instant messaging apps and emails is another way of ensuring your attention is 100% focused on the candidate.”
Patrick concludes, “Many people are reluctant to return to the traditional ways of work, so with this in mind, the process of hiring remotely is something many hiring managers must familiarise themselves with. While there is less room for building chemistry with a handshake and quick chat at the coffee machine beforehand, you are likely to be less hubristic, more rigorous and more diligent. This doesn't mean that rapport isn't important - it is vital - but it is still possible to do this virtually and being on the other side of a screen will give you a more autonomous, less emotional response.”