How to Successfully Conduct Remote Interviews

In the beginning, everything was put on pause. Most individual, most organizations did it. Unsure of exactly what was happening, how things would be and how to operate as the new norm was not yet in place, things were moving very slowly, heck, it even stopped for a while. Uncertainty which led to confusion, frustration and anxiety became common emotions for many.

But as time pass by, people have come to realize that life has to move forward despite the circumstance. Hence companies slowly started resuming their operation. True enough things are no longer 100% like how it used to be, with so many things changing, companies had to re-evaluate their SOPs to ensure their methods chosen were the best approach to adapt to the new norm.

Although there were many companies that had to let go of staffs due to the economic downfall, there were also quite a few that were still able to stand strong. As a matter of fact, quite a number even expanded! Hence for companies that were able to hang on tight despite the knock, their operations resumed as usual. Staffs were either working remotely, or if needed, would go into the office. As things were moving about as normal, many aspects including hiring was definitely not left behind.

I, for one, was very confused with how things would be, as I remember clearly being emailed to attend to an interview approximately a month after the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented. As cases were on the rise, there was no way I would make it for the interview, or so I thought.

Until I realized every single meeting that I have attended to, be it for a conference call with the office, or even an informal catch-up session with friends, would be by me clicking on a link I have received to an invitation to either Zoom, Teams, or Skype, a platform that I would only use probably once every few months or so, prior to the pandemic.

But with the unavoidable situation, there was no other way for a meeting to take place other than that. Same goes for conducting an interview. Truth be told if you were to ask me personally, the best way for an interview to be done would definitely be by meeting that person face to face.

However, with the uncertainty of the current situation, the best approach to conduct one would definitely be remotely. As a matter of fact, I would think that we have gotten so used to it, that it is almost as good as meeting the candidate face to face.

But in order to ensure the smoothness of the whole interviewing process, all the way from before even speaking to the candidate up to decisions made, it is best to run through ways on how to conduct successful remote interviews to achieve the best outcome one could get, from a panel’s point of view that is.

1. Preparation

Preparation is key. Not only do candidates have to prepare themselves well, panels would have to do the same too. True enough, hiccups sometimes is inevitable, but by preparing ourselves well, we would be fully utilizing our time wisely with things that would matter most, such as getting to know the candidate, as compared to only flipping through the pages of his/her resume during the interview, putting the candidate in a very awkward position.

2. Read Candidates’ Resumes Thoroughly

Hence the best first thing to do is definitely to read through the candidate’s resume before the interview takes place. From there, by having a rough idea of his/her background before the meet-up, we would then have a rough idea on the candidate and could then prepare and form questions for him/her, be it to clarify the background, or to just see if he/her is indeed the most suitable candidate for the position.

Whatever the reason may be, as long as we have run through the candidate’s resume beforehand, indeed we are on the first right track of things. After all, with good planning, it puts things in it’s best position without much panic and rushing for time.

3. Thank Candidates Personally

Once that has been done, comes the most interesting part, the interview itself. It is always nice to be welcomed to a place, what more to an environment one is unfamiliar with. Hence the first thing to do when the candidate has successfully joined the meeting, would be to thank the candidate for taking their time off in attending the interview.

4. Start with an Informal Conversation

Once that has been done, before getting to the real deal, it is always best to take a minute or two to just have an impromptu unformal conversation with the candidate.

You would probably think this is all a waste of time. But trust me when I say how wrong we are to feel such way. By doing this, indirectly it shows how appreciative we are towards them for taking the effort off their schedule and how we are indeed interested in wanting to get to know them as an individual before anything else, which in return will make them loosen up if not much, even a little.

5. Ask Candidates Regarding Current and Past Experiences

Hence when they have loosened up, we would be able to get to know them as an individual and as a professional as they are being themselves. After all that has been done and achieved, comes the part where being a professional takes place. By all means, ask questions to get to know if he/she is the most suitable candidate for the position, which could probably be started off with the candidate’s current or past work experience.

6. Ask Why Candidates Feel Job Is Suitable

From there, we could relate the background of the candidate to ask questions regarding why the candidate feels the job opening is suitable for him/her, and why he/she would be the best to fill up the position. With all that has been asked, kindly do not forget the technicality aspect of the interview, where we could insert a technical question related to the position that the candidate would need to acquire, or even just to have a rough idea.

It would definitely be an added advantage to the candidate who is able to answer the technical question correctly, as we know we wouldn’t have an utterly clueless candidate, as this would require much more time and energy to train for the candidate to be on board and ready to take on the role independently.

Once all that has been completed, the best way to end an interview would definitely be to ask if the candidate has any question for the panel, as that would be a great indicator that their thoughts and queries are taken into consideration. Last but definitely not the least, a good closure would be good by letting the candidate know they will be informed of the results of the interview, be it successful or otherwise.

Conclusion

The end, not. Once mutual decision has been achieved with all panels, it is always best to inform the candidate of the result within 5 – 7 days after the interview, so that they will not be waiting blindly unknowing of the outcome. If the candidate made it, by all means, congratulate him/her for successfully getting the position. However, if otherwise, it is never wrong to thank the candidate for taking their time and putting in effort in applying for the position, for we might never know who they might be in the future. After-all, we were once in their position.

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