Interviewing and hiring new staff for your business can be a challenge at the best of times, but what if you cannot even meet your prospective employees face to face? Once this would have been an unusual scenario, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly common with employees across all sectors hired without physically meeting. This has introduced many challenges to ensure companies still hire the best person for the job.
Check the technology
Decide well in advance which technology you will use to interview your candidates. A telephone interview can be used and may be useful for witling down a shortlist, but this does not allow the interviewer to see how the candidates present themselves visually. Often video-calling software is used, with Skype, Zoom and Google Teams being popular choices. Test your internet connection in advance of the interviews and make sure the candidates know what platform they need, giving them the chance to download and trial it.
Sometimes, despite all preparations, technology can fail, so make sure you have an alternative method of contacting your candidates, so you can continue the interview in some form or reschedule as necessary.
Be aware of communication delays
It is worth waiting a few seconds after a candidate stops speaking before responding in case a glitch or delay means they haven’t actually finished speaking – otherwise you may find yourselves speaking over each other. Be aware that your candidate may experience a slight delay too, so it can take them a few seconds to respond to your question.
You will also need to look at the camera when you are speaking to maximise effective communication and ensure your facial expressions and responses are appropriate for the conversation, while keeping an eye on the responses of the candidates to gain a greater insight into their suitability.
Be diligent on other checks
Not being able to meet in person makes it all the more important that you use other checks alongside the remote interview. Have their CV handy during the interview, so you can check any details and follow up on references, so that even though you have been unable to meet in person, you can get feedback from those who have. If the position requires any qualifications, ask the candidate to send evidence of these. You can also request checks for substance abuse, such as drugs and alcohol. Matrix Diagnostics is one company that can provide drug testing products for pre-employment checks, with trained collection officers familiar with a variety of testing methods and with industry-specific guidelines.
A new experience for candidates
With remote interviews being a relatively new phenomenon, be aware that this might be your candidates’ first remote interview and they may be feeling particularly nervous as a result. Have your questions planned in advance and start with some easy ones to put the candidate at ease.
At the end of the interview, make sure the candidates are aware of what will happen next, as well as thanking them for their time. A remote interview may be a new experience for you both, but with all parties remaining professional and courteous, it can still be an effective way of hiring new employees.