In hiring, the biggest difference between co-located and remote hiring is due to the fact that you most likely won't see a candidate in person before you make the final hiring decision.
This can be extremely challenging for hiring managers, as they feel that it lacks the interpersonal connection, as well as having the ability to have casual conversations. These are critical elements that can often influence a job interview. This is often due to online communication being seen as a more transactional approach to engaging with people.
There is also the technology element that shouldn’t be overlooked. You cannot have a remote interview without the necessary equipment. And even if all of your equipment is set up, testing the internet connection is a must. These are just some of the small but vital parts of setting up for the interview.
Another aspect that is sometimes overlooked is that of having a quiet place to hold the interview. Sometimes offices can be slightly noisy or have possible distractions that would detract from the remote interview.
In March this year, it was estimated that over 97% of workers surveyed would prefer to work remotely either once in their lives or permanently. This indicates how the remote work trend has captured the longing of most workers. Knowing this, employers will have to start preparing themselves for the likelihood of having a remote interview in the near future. When conducting remote interviews, some additional effort will have to be placed on the following items:
- Assessing a person’s cultural fit
- Assessing their ability for remote work fit
- Conducting skill-related interviews differently
Let us go through each of these sections in detail.
Remote Interview Tips And Best Practices
Here are some remote interview tips and best practices to ace your remote interview process:
- Assess cultural fit.
- Assess remote work fit.
- Go through prior work experience, especially related to remote work.
- Assess their verbal and written skills
- Make sure that the employee can thrive in a remote working space
1. Assess cultural fit
What Does a Cultural Fit Look Like?
In a remote interview process, many companies these days don't have an initial in-person interview anymore - especially tech companies. The first step in the remote interview process goes right into dissecting the CV and seeing if there is a fit within the company. It will then be seen if the person’s qualifications are in order to evaluate whether the remote interview process should be continued.
It is important to note that company culture is 100x more important in a remote team than an in-house team. The person that you will hire will represent your company and it is important to try and gauge who they are as a person during the online session. A proper cultural fit should be assessed prior to looking at skills alone - it is absolutely vital.
When organizing the first interview, try to schedule a 15-20 minute chat that is quite casual, either with a team member, or possibly even with a founder. Try to talk about their goals, aspirations, motivations over skill, studies and other similar things. It will give you, as the interviewer, some initial signal, as to whether online communication and collaboration will work out with this person – an incredibly important point to consider.
2. Assess their ability to work remotely
Why A Remote Work Fit Is So Important
As part of this initial meeting in the remote interview process, it can be a good idea to bring up some common issues or problems that have arisen in your remote team.That way you can see how they can tackle it and respond to a situation that is both true and practical.
Don't put too little pressure on this one; a potentially great and skilled worker is essentially rendered useless if they can't function in a remote setting and sort out issues as they arise.
It can be a good practice to check for the following things:
- Any prior and relevant remote work experience
- The ability to effectively communicate using async tools
- Have a good environment to work from (stable internet, calm & quiet, desk space)
- A motivation as to why they are looking for remote work
- Their expressiveness and skills in communication
3. Go through Prior Work Experience
This is arguably the most important thing to ascertain when having an interview regardless of it being remote or not. Having someone who is capable of fulfilling the role that you have available is essential. You need to be able to identify whether the person applying for the role is actually suitable for it. And the best way to judge that is by finding out whether they have done the same role before - or at the very least, something similar.
As we are dealing with a remote work situation, it would be more likely that that person could function well within your company if they have had previous remote work experience. This relates back slightly to the company culture aspect of things.
It is also possible that by hiring someone with great experience in remote working you can improve upon your productivity goals that you had in mind for them. A major study by American Express found that people who fulfilled their work remotely increased their productivity between 15% and 45%.
Why wouldn’t you want that in their work experience?
4. Effective Communication
For any amount of work to be done well, effective communication is going to be key. This doesn’t mean that the communication has to be instant. It just means that the relevant issues are dealt with in a way in which two or more parties understand what the other is saying and requesting.
This type of communication is also known as asynchronous communication. It simply means things like emails or virtual post-it notes. It allows people to have some time to think about a response to a situation or communication received from someone else. It also helps the person to think clearly about what is being communicated to them - they can respond instead of react. This makes a big difference in the workplace.
5. A Good Remote Workplace
What does this look like exactly? It’s simple. It should be a place wherein the potential hire can complete the tasks set before them without having any distractions. Each person is unique and that means that they function in different ways. Some people thrive in having a messy desk whereas others need to have a completely tidy station at all times. This is what remote work offers people - a way to work in a place that they are comfortable in.
These are only some essential remote interview tips and best practices that you must assess, but they are not the only things that you should be looking out for. As there are a lot more things you should be aware of. With a few purpose-directed questions, you should be able to get a good idea of the person that you are interviewing.
Assessing Their Skills Remotely
Whiteboard Interviews? Live Coding? Pair Programming? Your usual and favourite skill assessments are going to be difficult to hold up in a remote setting. Instead of applying your usual bag of tricks to evaluate a potential hire, you can try out the following strategies to assess their skills:
- A Take-Home Assignment (either short and unpaid, or something more extensive and paid)
- A detailed Technical Discussion (bringing up current issues, how would you solve it?)
- An in-depth presentation about prior work complete with a showcase of their skills and their application
- Trial Work (Paid) - a good and trusted method
And while these are great guidelines, they should be applied with a specific purpose in mind. We have an article with remote interview tips and best practices on how to ask the right questions in the remote interview. However, there are online tools that can assist you in interviewing people remotely with these types of tasks in mind.
Remote Interviewing Software Tools
There are various remote interviewing software tools that interviewers can make use of today that will help make things easier and allow for better communication with the potential new hire. In this next section we will discuss some of the best remote interviewing software tools out there.
Just remember one thing, most remote workers should have a good grasp on how to use most of the common online meeting platforms. So you won’t have to worry about things from their side.
This might be the remote interviewing software platform that has been used more than any other in the last year and a half. But again, there is a reason for it. It works by fulfilling more than just a video call. It allows people to engage with other people in the chat while someone is speaking. It also allows people to share their screens with everyone.
If you are looking to hire someone and need to see them performing a task live, Zoom will probably be your best bet. You ask the person to have their camera on and have them share their screen. You can then assess how they do certain tasks on the screen while being sure that it is them that are doing the work.
An alternative remote interviewing software platform is Google Meets. If you just want to have a conversation with someone and see how they respond to your questions, you can’t go wrong with it. There is still a reason that many people use it as their go-to video app - everyone knows it and how to use it.
This is possibly one of the most interesting and out-there types of remote interview software tools. If you are specifically looking to find out what type of traits people have and how they react. Pymetrics is the software for you. It will assess future hires by looking at their responses by the way they play games. It sounds silly, but it works.
People cannot try and hide how they would respond to a situation with the way the platform is set up. It ‘s great for seeing how someone could fit into the company.
Many companies don’t require potential hires to email them for an interview. In fact, some companies like Twitter require that people fill out a specific form that will then allow them to choose a time that the interviewer has set aside. This eliminates the need for setting up appointments with a lot of back and forth in between. JotForm has eliminated that running about and come up with a way in which employers can have a form ready from the go.
Concluding Thoughts on Remote Work Interviews
It is certainly something that has been forced upon society in general thanks to recent events. But in a lot ways it has actually shown how viable of a concept that it is. Some people are happier and performing better than they did before they were forced home.
It is safe to say that remote work is here to stay. Companies will need to find a way to adapt their interview methods. We have gone through some of the most important points that a person will need to be aware of when performing a remote interview.
Depending on the company and the type of work being done, there are a variety of tools that you could use to make the process easier and less stressful on both parties. There are many tech platforms that can help, but be sure to choose the correct one. If you follow the advice above, you are sure to make things easier for everyone and also acquire the right people for your company.