5 Common Challenges to Overcome When You Conduct Remote Interviews
Virtual interviews have altered the interview experience not just for candidates but also for interviewers. Even if you are a seasoned interviewer, you will need to formulate a different strategy for virtual interviews. Not preparing for a virtual interview is preparing to fail. Here are five challenges you should prepare for to make your remote interviews a success.
1. Communicating Effectively
The dynamics of face-to-face (F2F) interviews and virtual interviews are widely different. Especially, in the case of an audio-only interview, you do not get visual cues that reveal if the candidate is relaxed, paying attention, or even present throughout the interview.
Rapport is easily built in F2F interviews as you would be in the same physical space as the interviewee. Technology can be a barrier to achieving perfect sync. You and the candidate could be talking at the same time because one of you is unable to guess if the other has completed the sentence or taken a pause. Communicating in fits and starts can destroy the flow, leaving you and the interviewee dissatisfied. And before you know it, the interview is over, and you wouldn’t have an objective assessment of the candidate.
Video interviews can be nerve-racking for some candidates. Not everyone is comfortable with speaking into a camera. They might be taking the call from a less-than-ideal home environment, hoping nothing goes wrong in the short duration of the interview. Anxiety can interfere with the performance of such candidates.
Convey information explicitly to avoid any confusion. In your interview invite, you can mention the things the candidate has to keep ready (like their CVs) and the browser compatibility for any tool you will be using. Phrase your questions in simple, clear, and concise language. Ask consistent questions so that even if the call is cut short, you can still evaluate the candidate.
Be sensitive to the candidate’s situation. Put them at ease with a friendly greeting, followed by suitable warm-up questions. Facilitate the conversation in such a way that the candidate is able to give their best shot. It goes without saying that you need to use a remote interview platform that works equally well for both of you, be it Meet or Zoom, or any other.
Make eye contact with the candidate by looking at the camera rather than the candidate, at least while you talk, so that to the candidate it appears as if you are talking directly to them. Be prepared with follow-up questions to avoid any awkward intervals of silence.
Take a pause before going on to the next question to ensure that the candidate has completed their answer. If the candidate accidentally speaks over you, be gracious. These measures will ensure that you do not lose out on a quality candidate just because of their inability to perform well in a video interview.
2. Assessing Nonverbal Cues
Observing nonverbal cues is an essential part of an interview as they reflect the candidate’s confidence, interest, and energy, which in turn help determine if the candidate is a good fit for your team. If you have been conducting F2F interviews all along, you would be used to deducing a lot from how the candidate is dressed, how they sit, smile, gesture, or even shake hands. But all that’s gone in a virtual interview, where the laser focus is on the questions you pose and the answers they come up with.
In a virtual interview space, even minor flaws can seem magnified. Disturbances or raised voices of family members in the background can mar the professional atmosphere the candidate would have wanted to maintain. Even if the candidate has done their best to eliminate distractions, unexpected things could snap their attention.
Pay attention to facial expressions, hand movements, posture, and voice modulation to understand the confidence level of the candidates. Similar to F2F, a person facing the camera is more confident than a person looking down or elsewhere.
Virtual etiquettes go both ways. Ensure that you are professionally dressed, in a proper environment, and maintain professionalism as you would in a F2F interview.
You can ask a few psychometric questions or even introduce a psychometric round to better understand the personality of the candidate. Like years of interviewing experience have helped you decipher the body language of candidates in F2F interviews, with time you will be able to do the same for video interviews.
3. Cheat-Proofing Interviews
Cheating is a major deal-breaker when you’re hiring. It can take many forms. Candidates may look for answers on another device or have people outside the camera view to help them or lip-sync to answers. Some may pretend not to hear your question or fail to switch on the video citing various reasons. Recruitment agencies helping candidates to clear job interviews deceitfully are also not unheard of.
Ensure that the candidate has their video turned on. This allows you to observe the candidate and obtain clues if the candidate is looking elsewhere for answers. To ensure candidates are not lip-syncing an answer to a very important question on their skills, you can switch tracks in between and ask them a totally different question.
If a candidate does not turn on the video in the first ten minutes, you can reschedule the interview to a time when the candidate can turn on the video. This way you can ensure the interview standards are kept and your hiring decision is based on a proper assessment of their responses as well as their non-verbal communication. Using online assessment tools for recruitment for features such as screen mirroring, AI-based monitoring, etc., also helps to detect cheating.
4. Evaluating Coding Skills
For technical roles such as web developers and software engineers, assessing coding skills is key to deciding the suitability of the candidate. While in F2F interviews you could have used a pen and paper method to quickly ask coding questions, in video interviews this is not so simple.
Online coding assessment tools offer the best way out. Live coding tests help identify how a candidate tackles a real-world problem. They help you observe the candidate’s logical ability and coding skills. You can understand the thought process of a candidate as you can see the steps they take to arrive at the required output. The candidate also gets a chance to explain their logic to you while writing the code.
You can also use online pair programming tools to check the candidate’s coding skills. This way you can be an observer/navigator while the candidate solves the coding question. To make the assessment interesting, use interesting questions based on game development or solving a real-world problem rather than sticking to boring questions.
5. Ensuring Uninterrupted Conversations
Internet connectivity plays a big role in deciding the outcome of the interview. Although a prerequisite for online interviews, the harsh fact is that internet connectivity is not the same everywhere. It can be a major problem for candidates in remote locations.
The complete mood of the interview can be affected by poor connectivity. Lag in voice and video is also a big turn-off. This would mean that both you and the interviewee may have to repeat what was said many times and over time lose the flow of the interview. The downfall of not allowing candidates from remote locations is that you may lose out on a good candidate and fall short of your diversity hiring plans.
Inform the candidate beforehand whether it is going to be a video interview or an audio-only interview, so they can choose their device and bandwidth accordingly. You can request the candidate to take the call from an internet cafe or at the nearest branch of your organization.
Even with all precautions, there may be unexpected connectivity interruptions from both sides. In such instances, be flexible, talk to the candidate, and reschedule the interview. This will ensure you don’t lose out on qualified candidates because of a poor connection.
Virtual interviews are here to stay, and the best you can do is adapt to the change. Though an in-person interview cannot be completely replaced by online interviews for every role, preparing adequately for the latter can ensure that you conduct good interviews and make the best hiring decisions based on those interviews.