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10 remote interviews tips for hiring managers

An experienced recruiter and 20-year marketing veteran teamed up to share what they’ve learned from 1000s of interviews.

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Interviewing someone online is just not the same as in person. It’s undeniable that remote interviews are more convenient, especially for first round interviews. But there are tradeoffs, like missing subtle body language cues, and intrusive distractions from notifications. The goal should be to create a process that’s as close to “in-person” as possible while allowing candidates to interview from anywhere. 

10 interview tips for hiring managers

To help you fill your open reqs, we gathered interview best practices from recruiters and hiring managers. Tips include location-agnostic ideas, as well as some remote-specific best practices for the entire process, from start to finish.

1. Write a job description for a human, not a unicorn

When crafting a job description, be realistic about the skills and experience you're looking for. Avoid using buzzwords or unrealistic requirements that could deter qualified candidates. Instead, write the job description for a person you'd want to work with. Consider the candidate's unique skillset and how it would benefit your company. The more reasonable and relatable your description is, the better chance you have of attracting candidates who fit well with your company.

2. Complement a resume review with additional research

The more you know about the candidate, the more you’ll both get out of the interview. Compare what’s on their resume with what you can find on LinkedIn and online. If you share mutual connections, same alma mater or overlapping interests this could help make them feel comfortable during the interview. Doing your research also shows that they're not just another resume on your desk.

3. Prep your questions ahead of time

Asking the same general questions in each interview will make it easier to compare candidates. Open-ended questions that require a longer answer than “yes” or “no” are ideal. For example: "Tell me about a time when you had to work independently on a project” versus “Do you have experience working independently on a project?”

4. Set expectations at the beginning of the interview

Start by asking how the candidate is doing and if they have any questions. Share why you joined the company and what you're going to cover in the interview. Be sure to ask questions that give candidates an opportunity to tell their story and highlight their skills. If you have your questions printed out or on a screen, let the candidate know that's where your eyes are wandering.

5. Stay focused

This should go without saying: Don't work on other tasks while the candidate is speaking. Turn off email and messaging notifications. You don’t want the candidate to feel like you're not paying attention. During the interview, take notes so you remember what you talked about – and acknowledge that you’re taking them when your eyes wander.

6. Protect your company's and your own reputation

Even if an interview isn't going well, don't cut it short. This could provide a terrible candidate experience which can cause adverse ripple effects for your company and brand. The candidate is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.

7. Leave time for questions

Good candidates will come to the conversation with questions – be sure to leave time to answer them. This will show the candidate that you’re interested, and it can provide an opportunity for them to elaborate on something they mentioned earlier in the conversation.

Pro tip: If you have extra time, you can give them a "tour of the office" and how you work with your peers. For example, share information about unusual Slack channels, learning & development opportunities, team culture and norms.

8. Offer breaks

Allow the candidate to take a water, snack, or bathroom break if needed, especially when they’re in back-to-back interviews.

9. Ask where they are in their process

This gives you a sense of timing, which is helpful for both the interviewer and interviewee. You don't want to lose a great candidate if they are in final rounds nor do you want to rush a candidate who is early in their process. If you had a great interview with a candidate, tell them you hope for an opportunity to work with them. Pre-closing during the interview process is a great practice, whether or not you know the outcome of the entire interview loop.

10. Follow up with next steps

Do not ever ghost a candidate. Even if the interview is a disaster, share next steps, even if the next step is a parting ways because it isn't a good fit. If things are moving slowly, check in to keep them informed. And be sure to respond to their thank-you note!

By following these tips, you can conduct effective remote interviews that help you find the best candidates for your team. And use Switchboard to create an interview experience that makes them feel as if they’re meeting you in person. Switchboard helps you conduct really fantastic, high context, and warm interviews. Good luck!

Thanks to Nazia Mastan from The General Partnership for her collaboration on this article.

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