Last week I shared tips for candidates attending remote interviews. This week we wrap up with advice for hiring managers.
Though easier to schedule in, remote interviews can be so difficult because you lose so much context when not sitting in the same room. It’s harder to connect or build rapport and people are harder to read. Their background setting may disrupt and influence your thoughts about them, the camera angle of the call may be off-putting… you’re now judging so many new factors we simply didn’t need to consider before.
This is where having a clear and solid interview process comes in.
Besides hiring the right person, what do you want to achieve by the end of this interview? Try to have three clear objectives for your interview process, for instance:
- Confident the candidate can do what is needed
- Confident the candidate is genuinely bought into the company
- Ensure the candidate walks away having a positive experience, regardless of how they perform
Your interview and recruitment process should enable all 3 objectives to be met.
Understand the objectives of the role
I always ask, what does success look like in this role? 3, 6, 9, 12+ months from now. It is important to know this for several reasons:
- You take the time to think about the validity and need for the role
- You are able to give candidates a clear view of the results you are expecting, enabling them to envision themselves in the role and make an informed decision
- This aids in building out an interview process that better enables the qualification of candidates
Know the job description
The job description should be the starting point of any interview process. Understand what the person will be doing and to what level, and use this to build and understand the requirements.
If you don’t know or remember your own job description or you don’t even look over it before going into an interview, you will not focus on the right areas during your interview process and will fall victim to good chat and an even better smile.
Also, job descriptions sometimes evolve. You can write a job description, then after speaking to candidates realise it needs revising. So stay on top of that job description to make sure it stays relevant.
Use your job description to carve out 3 or 4 solid questions that will help you flesh out the most important requirements each time you speak to a candidate.
Set up a practical exercise
I am a firm believer that you can assess someone’s suitability and approach to work by giving them an exercise that is aligned to the role. Giving the candidate a basic task during the interview or asking them to prepare something for the interview, and then discussing their solution and thought process helps you not only understand suitability but also mindset and potential. It also gives the candidate a realistic sense of what the role will involve or what is expected of them. This element of the interview process is key to improving hiring success rates.
I personally like to ask candidates how they found the exercise just after they complete it, for several reasons. Their immediate feedback may help fine-tune the exercise, or change it completely. They also get the chance to deflate, and it helps them unwind a little bit.
You should not be tailoring your interview to each candidate you speak to. It is impossible to compare two candidates abilities if they have two different experiences. As well as not being a fair process, this is often a reflection of working style. If your interview process is fair, transparent and consistent, likely the way you work is the same.
You or your recruitment team should be able to inform candidates of the full interview process very early on, at the very least after the first conversation.
An interview process is not only a reflection of you, but your company too. The way a company manages an interview process is a good indication of how processes work within the business and of how people are valued. If a company values people, they’d be concerned about their experience at every touch point… starting from when they are a candidate, whether they are successful or not.
Once a company has around 20 employees, they should have a clear process. If they don’t have a clear process for interviewing at that stage, they won’t have a clear process that will enable them to scale properly as a business overall.
Familiarise yourself with the CV
Try to take around 10–15 minutes to look at the CV prior to the interview. Develop some questions to deep dive into particular areas, to get clarification and address concerns. These questions in combination with the standard ones you have put together for the job description will arm you nicely for a constructive conversation.
An interview is a two-way conversation. The candidate is interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. Therefore, you also have the task of making a good impression.
Don’t just interview, have a conversation. Shooting tons of questions at people is not nice and won’t bring the best out of the person you’re speaking to. Be human and try to connect with the person.
As mentioned earlier, use your job description and CV research to carve out 6 to 8 solid questions that will help you flesh out someone’s suitability. The more you are focused on the candidate’s interview experience, the better you’ll become at weaving in these questions into the fabric of the conversation.
The candidate comes out of the interview not feeling like it was an interview. They are more likely to walk away energised and with positive thoughts about you and the company. This is what you should want, regardless of their interview performance.
Don’t be afraid to challenge someone in an interview. I have seen over the years that when an interview process is too easy, the candidate is put off. People want and like to be challenged in a job, and the same goes for an interview. They want to feel they have overcome a steep hill, not simply taken a walk in the park.
You don’t need to make the interview difficult and uncomfortable all the way through. Note, I mentioned steep hill and not Mount Everest. The ideal scenario is that the candidate leaves the interview feeling a little stretched. They will value the opportunity more, and they will also interpret this as the role being challenging — in a good way.
If someone is uncomfortable being challenged, I personally wouldn’t hire them. I’m constantly challenging myself and will always challenge anyone I hire, because I believe growth and learning is constant regardless of role or seniority.
Why should someone take your role over another? This is where the story comes in. During the interview, you should be able to:
- Tell the company’s story
- Tell your story, why and how you came to join the company
- Tell their story, how the role fits into the organisation
- Tell the future story, what is the plan for the role, and the organisation overall
Remember — This is a highly competitive market in the candidate’s favour. Take the time to get your story straight, and make sure it’s a compelling one. If you can’t convince yourself, you won’t convince anyone else.
Your set up
I’ve mentioned the set up in the tips to candidates, but I’ll repeat it again here.
Consider where you are taking the video call from. Test the video shot, check what people will see, does it represent you well? Ideally, you’re looking for a space that is tidy or has a plain wall, where this isn’t available, use a virtual background or blur your background.
Consider the lighting, make sure your face is visible and illuminated. Try not to have your back to a window, if you do, close the blind or curtain. When your back is to a window, the light from the window takes the light from the camera view.
Consider the angle of your camera, try to make sure your laptop is eye level, so it really does feel like a face-to-face conversation.
Oh, and please make sure you have your camera on.
Regardless of how you feel the interview is going, your demeanour will dictate how the candidate feels about the interview, the role, the company… and YOU. As mentioned earlier, you’re not just trying to get answers out of someone, you’re trying to create an experience, preferably one that leaves a sweet taste. So when on the call, show you’re paying attention, nod, maintain eye contact. If you are using a 2nd screen to view their profile, let them know that at the start of the call, so they don’t think you’re distracted. Treat the candidate how you’d wish to be treated.