- What makes remote interviews unique?
- Best remote interview setups
- What to look for in remote candidates
Q: How is a remote interview different from an in-person interview?
A: A remote interview requires some degree of technical knowledge. Without a proper technical setup, it may be difficult to get a sense of the candidate’s personality, demeanor, and body language. That said, remote interviews can be just as effective as in-person interviews when conducted correctly.
According to the latest statistics, more than 15% of high-paying jobs are now fully remote.
As you might expect, this is leading to a massive increase in virtual interviews. According to a recent Indeed survey, as many as 82% of employers use virtual interviews to hire candidates.
Of these employers, a further 92% plan to continue using virtual interviews for the foreseeable future.
This statistic tells us that when companies try virtual interviews for the first time, they generally see no reason to return to in-person interviews.
Even as the pandemic slowly winds down, companies have no reason to stop conducting virtual interviews – although many of them initially switched to this method because of quarantines and lockdowns.
This is just one aspect of a greater shift toward remote work that is occurring across many industries in the United States.
If you’re making this transition, you need to know how to conduct a proper remote interview. The technology may be extremely promising, but you need to know how to take full advantage of these methods if you want to experience the full benefits of a virtual interview.
So what exactly do you need to know about virtual interviews, and what makes them different? How do you set up a virtual interview, and how do you supplement this technology with other digital tools geared toward remote work?
Let’s find out.
- What makes remote interviews unique?
- Best remote interview setups
- What to look for in remote candidates
What Makes Remote Interviews Unique?
Several things make remote interviews unique:
Remote interviews take less time
First, you should know that remote interviews are typically much more time-efficient than their in-person counterparts.
Just consider the logistics involved, and you’ll quickly see why.
A remote interview does not require either party to commute to an office building. That alone can save hours.
You also don’t need to process candidates when they arrive, show them to a waiting room, and then finally escort them to the interview room. Everything is done virtually in seconds.
Finally, the interview itself may be shorter because the scope of a virtual interview is limited.
Because fewer techniques are possible, you can get straight to the questions and then move on to the next candidate.
Time efficiency lets you interview more people within the same period. This allows you to consider more options before you make your final decision.
When you interview more people, you increase your chances of finding the best talent.
Remote interviews cost less to conduct
When you conduct a remote interview, you can cut down on many costs.
Perhaps the most obvious cost is office space. This is just one example of technology that makes a fully remote business possible, and it means saying goodbye to rental costs, utilities, and a range of staff members.
For example, there’s no need to hire a secretary to greet each candidate, show them to the waiting room, offer them coffee, and so on.
Cutting down on interview costs allows you to put those savings into other important areas. For example, you could even take those savings and use them to offer your new employees better wages or more attractive benefits.
The point is simple:
Saving money is always a good thing.
Remote interviews make it difficult to assess body language
Remote interviews also have their fair share of downsides.
For starters, it’s difficult to assess someone’s body language during an online interview. Generally speaking, you only see their face and shoulders.
Who knows? They might be fidgeting with their hands off-screen. Or perhaps they have a habit of standing too close to people.
Maybe the candidate tends to engage in sexual harassment. Perhaps they find it difficult to maintain eye contact or communicate effectively when they’re outside of their own home.
These are all questions that are very difficult to answer with a Zoom interview.
Fortunately, most remote interviews involve fully remote positions – so many of these issues may be inconsequential.
There are fewer location restrains with remote interviews
Another unique aspect of a remote interview is that there are virtually no location restraints.
If you’re pressed for time, you can even conduct a remote interview while you’re on the train. If you’re on a business trip, you could interview candidates from your hotel room.
Why not head to a nearby co-working center?
The possibilities are endless, and it means that you can conduct your interviews without as many scheduling conflicts getting in the way.
Some interview techniques are impossible remotely
Sometimes, a simple list of questions just doesn’t cut it during an interview.
You might need to give your candidate a hands-on task to assess their skills. Perhaps you need to see whether they can complete an exercise within a certain time limit.
Maybe you need to divide your candidates into teams and assess their teamwork or leadership qualities.
All of these techniques are very difficult or outright impossible in a remote environment.
Even if you can figure out a way to assess certain hands-on skills in a remote interview, your candidates may cheat by searching the answers on Google or using other strategies.
The truth is that when you conduct a remote interview, you’re limited to verbal assessment strategies.
Sometimes, this is more than enough to choose the best talent. In other situations, you may feel quite constrained by remote interviews.
Remote interviews are impossible without reliable internet
If you’re going to conduct a remote interview, you need reliable internet.
In contrast, companies aren’t so reliant on technology with face-to-face interviews.
This means that if you don’t have a reliable internet connection, your remote interviews could quickly become disastrous or frustrating.
Reliance on the internet is also a two-way street. If your candidates don’t have a good connection, it can be difficult to hear their answers.
Worst case scenario? The interview ends abruptly because of connection issues.
The good news is that this can help you choose the best candidates. After all, if someone is struggling with their internet, they’re probably not a good fit for a remote position.
You can interview a wider range of candidates remotely
One of the most important benefits of a remote interview is that it gives you access to a much wider talent pool.
With in-person interviews, you’re limited to your local geographic area. This is especially problematic if you live in a rural area with a low population density.
Your local town may only have one or two candidates that are suited to your position. If you’re hiring for a highly technical or specialized position, there might be no one nearby who is even remotely qualified.
Remote interviews address this issue by giving you access to the entire world. If you’re hiring for a remote position, there’s no reason to limit yourself to your local area.
You could find the perfect freelance writing candidate in Canada. Or perhaps there’s a skilled graphic designer living in Spain with perfect English.
The possibilities are virtually unlimited, and remote interviews help you find the most talented individuals as you expand your company.
That said, some companies need to limit themselves to American employees due to tax implications or employment laws. Even then, you have a better chance of finding talented individuals if you can search the entire nation instead of your local county or state.
It’s difficult to show off your company’s benefits remotely
Remember, an interview isn’t just an opportunity to assess a candidate.
It’s also an opportunity for the candidate to assess you.
It’s no secret that companies around the world are struggling to find talent. Many of these companies are forced to compete with each other for the best candidates, and this means that employees often find themselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to the hiring process.
Forbes calls this phenomenon a “Talent Shortage Perfect Storm,” reporting that companies have been struggling to find qualified candidates since at least 2019.
So how does this affect remote interviews?
Well, it can be very difficult to show off your company’s benefits if you’re limited to a computer screen.
With in-person interviews, you have the opportunity to lead a new hire through your office building, pointing out all the attractive features:
“There’s the lunch area – we offer our employees free smoothies. On Fridays, we have fresh, brick-oven pizza.”
“Here’s a typical office. As you can see, we have floor-to-ceiling windows with excellent views of the river.”
“Our building is fully air-conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter. Oh, and all of our water coolers are fully purified.”
These are just a few examples of things you can say to your candidates to “sweeten the deal.” You can’t communicate these ideas through a virtual interview.
It’s also difficult to help candidates understand your company culture, which can be a major factor as they make their final decision.
With all that said, the ability to work remotely is one of the most attractive things for candidates right now.
A recent survey found that almost 50% of surveyed workers stated that they will “definitely” seek a remote position for their next job.
FlexJobs reports that 65% of respondents want to work remotely full-time.
Another survey found that a stunning 97.6% of remote workers say that they want to keep working remotely for the rest of their careers.
Although having a nice lunchroom is certainly a plus, the statistics are clear:
Most employees would rather make themselves a sandwich in the comfort of their own homes.
Part of the remote interview involves candidates using technology effectively
One of the most unique aspects of a remote interview is that the interview itself is a test.
Can the candidate set up a Zoom call effectively? Do they know how to turn on their mic or camera?
Are they fumbling around with their laptop charger mid-interview?
These are all factors that you can consider when you make your final decision.
The interview itself shows you how tech-savvy your candidates truly are, and this may be an important consideration if you’re hiring for a fully-remote, highly-technical position.
Best Remote Interview Setups
Setting up a remote interview should be quite easy.
The basic remote interview process
All you need is a solid internet connection, a mic, and a camera. While higher-quality cameras and mics are always helpful, you can probably get away with using your phone or a cheap laptop.
From there, you need to sign up for a video calling app, schedule a call, and share the link with your candidates. Some apps allow your candidates to schedule their interviews ahead of time.
Arrive a few minutes before the interview and make sure that your mic and camera are functioning properly.
Conduct the interview, sign off, and move to the next candidate.
Remote interview questions
Here are some sample remote interview questions you might ask:
- Do you have any experience with remote work?
- How do you like to communicate with team members in a remote environment?
- How would you rate your tech skills?
- What is the most challenging project you’ve ever been involved with?
- What would you bring to this company?
- What is your general philosophy?
What’s the best remote interview app?
There are a few different remote interview apps to choose from, including:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Meet
There are many options, and this general niche is becoming quite saturated. Many companies have jumped on the video conferencing bandwagon, and there is considerable competition between apps.
You will need to consider the various pros and cons of each app to determine the right choice for your company. There are varying fees, limitations, and subscription tiers.
Figuring out the best video conferencing app is a subject for another article, but it’s safe to say that you have many affordable options at your fingertips.
What to Look for in Remote Candidates
If you’re hiring for a remote position, you need to consider the fact that social skills are not very important.
Instead, consider the candidate’s experience levels and technical abilities first and foremost.
Communication skills are still important, especially if you need someone who speaks fluent English.
Your goal will be to assess whether the individual has been lying about their background or their experience.
Remember, you need to determine whether the candidate is tech-savvy enough to function in a remote environment.
Finally, consider whether they have a stable internet connection. It should be easy to assess their connection speeds based on the quality of the video call.
You should also assess their working environment. Do they have a professional home office setup?
Are they trying to answer questions from a crowded, noisy cafe?
Are they sitting on the floor in their apartment?
While these situations aren’t necessarily “deal breakers,” you should think about the candidate’s ability to work without distractions.
If your candidate becomes distracted by something in their environment, gauge their reaction. Do they become flustered or annoyed? Or do they deal with these distractions in a calm, efficient manner?
Sometimes, these unexpected issues can tell you a lot about your candidates.
Exploring Other Remote Interview Options With Alliance Virtual Offices
Alliance Virtual Offices offers a range of services for companies that are transitioning to a remote business structure.
Among other things, Alliance provides companies with access to physical, on-demand office space.
You can take advantage of this office space to make your remote interviews seem even more professional.
When you interview your home office, there’s always the risk of sending the wrong impression.
Your candidates may dismiss you as an untrustworthy company.
This is especially true if your dog starts barking halfway through the interview, or your children run screaming into your home office.
By spending a few dollars on flexible office space, you give yourself a quiet, professional environment from which to conduct your remote interview.
Access to a flexible office space also allows you to interview candidates face-to-face – even if your business doesn’t have an office.
This helps you create a positive first impression, increasing the chances of attracting the most talented individuals.
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In short, Alliance Virtual Offices gives you plenty of options when it comes to interviews. The best part is that you’ll never have to pay office rental fees and utility costs, giving you the best of both worlds.
Alliance Virtual Offices also offers a range of other remote-work-associated services, including Live Receptionists, Virtual Addresses, Virtual Phone Lines, Mail Forwarding, and much more.
Check out Alliance Virtual Offices to learn more about how we can help with your upcoming remote interviews.